As Gov. Ivey prepares to announce later this week whether or not to continue enforcing our current set of “Safer than Sticking Your Finger in a Light Socket at Home” COVID-19 rules, it feels like a good time to get back on the corona train and see where it’s going.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve opined about this Energizer Bunny of pandemics — mostly because I’m tired of hearing myself talk about it, but also because for most of us, life has just had to move on. That doesn’t mean any of us have been able to forget about CV19 for more than 30 seconds, but slowly and surely the rest of what’s happening in 2020 has won back some small percentage of what tickles our grey matter.
School, of course, has been a huge part of that. The question of whether or not to send kids back to school was hotly debated as many claimed it would cause an explosion of new cases and deaths. Those fears even led Mobile County Public Schools (MCPSS) to hold off on in-person classes.
Fortunately, as with most of the other death predictions that have been part of this crisis, those fears have proven to be overstated, to say the least. While there have certainly been cases, COVID has remained of most danger to those over 65 and those with underlying health problems.
I shudder to make these observations, as they will surely provoke angry letters denouncing me as a Trump stooge or a garden-variety moron and be accompanied by threats of subscription cancelations, but I gotta do what I gotta do. So for what must now be the hundredth time, I’ll ask whether the current course of action is better than the impending problems bearing down on us like a freight train?
As Ivey contemplates whether it is ultimately the best thing to keep so much of our economy in a stranglehold for another month or two, is she thinking realistically or politically? How much longer does she imagine the state’s restaurant/bar industry can hold on at half capacity and restricted hours, for instance? Has she gone to a bar (loaded question) or restaurant to see how these orders are actually being carried out?
Let me tell you a story: A man walks into a bar. He put a mask on just before he walks through the door and travels approximately 10 feet to a table, where he takes the mask off. Twenty minutes later he gets up and walks to the bathroom without his mask on. Later he goes to another packed bar where nobody is wearing masks, so he doesn’t wear his. But the bar closes at 11 p.m., so that probably did the trick.
Another story: A guy walks into a restaurant wearing his mask and stands at the counter to order. The waitress isn’t wearing a mask. He orders something to go, takes two steps to the left and sits down, takes off his mask and continues the conversation with the waitress. A group of men enter with no one wearing a mask. The entire bar is filled with people eating and not wearing masks. But every other table is closed off, so that probably did the trick.
Can we all just admit the “mask dance” has become rather silly in many circumstances as people feel less and less threatened by CV19? That doesn’t mean I think masks don’t help, it just means I’ve watched as most people who are out and about these days aren’t wearing them much. They’re hanging from an ear or down around the chin as accessories designed to stay on the right side of the law and moral outrage.
It’s almost the standard that when two mask-wearing people meet, they stay masked just about long enough to figure out whether the other person is going to freak out if they take it off. A lot of this has become a show of conformity rather than an earnest effort to stop the spread of the virus.
Is there a sense we’ve been through “the worst of it?” I’d imagine most of us tentatively feel that way, even as we listen to more warnings of new “waves” and states moving “in the wrong direction.” After all, MCPSS parents fairly clamored for in-class teaching to resume after just a couple of weeks of “virtually no learning.” I mean virtual learning. Clearly, there’s not a massive fear of death among the majority of parents of school-aged children.
Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis is being pilloried by left-wingers in the media (is that redundant?) for doing away with all his state’s restrictions and opening up while people are still dying from the virus. In many minds, restrictions should stay in place — including bringing back lockdowns — until what? Zero deaths? The inoculation of the entire populace?
Those are easy positions for some to take — particularly those who don’t have to make a living. If you make the same money whether you leave the house or not, then there’s not really a tough personal choice to make. But the rest of the city, state and country have businesses to run and jobs to do. Is it fair for the government to force millions into bankruptcy and eviction to protect at-risk people who won’t stay at home?
Slowly, the names of businesses around our own area that are done for good are leaking out. More and more all the time. Many more are struggling to stay afloat with government restrictions that almost ensure failure. Not many restaurants are built for 25 or 50 percent usage, for instance. The majority of business owners I’ve spoken with tell me they’re down significantly but trying to make it through. They also tell me they’ve cut back on employees, so jobs are disappearing.
And evictions and foreclosures are starting to ramp up as landlords are forced to try to find ways to forestall their own financial destruction.
Maybe there is a switch that’s flipped back on once all this is over and everything turns out OK. That seems less and less likely the longer the government treats individual financial destruction as being of no consequence. That’ll be a tough position to explain to someone who is evicted or foreclosed upon.
At this point, most of us have calculated how at risk we are personally of dying from coronavirus. What’s much harder to get a handle on is what happens next.
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