The headline of the paper on April 15 read "We cannot take another surge." This was a quote from Eric Deaton, Ballad COO during the COVID-19 press conference held on April 14. Underneath this article, I was disappointed to see a picture from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen forum sponsored by the Times News with the candidates seated shoulder to shoulder without masks.

I am confident those pictured have all been fully vaccinated, but we know the vaccine is not 100% effective and vaccinated people can be symptom free and yet still be contagious.

Please plan future forums with consideration to the 6-foot spacing recommendation between candidates. The forum guidelines should also follow the mask mandate currently in effect for Sullivan County. Sponsoring this forum without adherence to recommended precautions and publishing a picture of this nature is not responsible journalism in light of the increased cases of COVID-19 in our area.

Martha Blalock