Ripples of unease passed through the Manning Great Lakes communities this week when it was revealed an active COVID-19 case was located at Possum Brush, and then Darawank, and a service station at Coolongolook had been named an exposure site.
The month long lockdown in the Mid Coast local government area is very fresh in our memories. Closed stores and deserted streets - the impact was very visible. Our heart goes out to our city neighbours who have been confined by COVID restrictions for more than three months.
We want life to get back to normal but at the same time we are fearful of what that might mean, and questions arise about how our health system will cope. We have been told COVID will be with us for many years to come and vaccination is our way to freedom. Your can take it as a given that journalists are well read and the Manning Great Lakes newsteam is almost all fully vaccinated - read into that what you will.
The capacity of rural and regional communities to cope when the statewide restrictions are eased, and this is when vaccination rates reach a required level, has been the focus of a series of articles produced by a group of journalists selected from across ACM, published of this newspaper.
We have heard from nurses, GPs and paramedics, we have delved into the some of the horror stories being told as the ongoing NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into health outcomes and services in rural, regional and remote NSW moves around the State. We spoke to high profile journalist, Liz Hayes, who started her career with the Manning River Times and whose harrowing experience that led to the death of her father sparked her on a campaign to change the very foundations of our State's regional health system.
Health Services Union State secretary Gerard Hayes spelt it out when he said regional health won't cope post lockdown. "We won't be ready after a decade of belt tightening," was his takeaway.
Our series continues over the coming days as we speak to politicians on both sides - watch this space.