Feelin’ good! Just got the COVID-19 test result back, and it’s “negative.” Wasn’t sure at first. That also might mean it’s bad – as in “negative attitude” or “negative effect.” But after checking, it’s the “positive” rating you have to worry about.
I got the test after learning I might have been exposed at a community band practice that rehearses at a church one night a week. So far, one band member has tested positive. We’re taking a break and will be back at it in a couple of weeks. Don’t want to mess up a good thing. You get to play, and when you get home, you can honestly say, “Really hon, I’ve been at church all night.” Just great.
This is not the time to be casual about the need to take common-sense precautions to protect against exposure to the virus. Last figure I saw, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was 672,000 deaths nationally, as of Sept. 18, with more deaths expected during this current surge, and thousands more suffering the long-term effects of contracting the virus. This will be a long-term battle.
One positive experience in all this has been the work of the Frederick County Health Department and Frederick Health Hospital. The line of cars at FHH’s new facility — Frederick Health Village on Monocacy Boulevard — was long, but the drive-by testing was handled smoothly and efficiently. Thanks to all those health care workers who test seven days a week to keep up with the increased demand.
We’ve followed the guidelines about limited travel and contact, but broke out of our shell recently to visit our daughter and son-in-law in New Hampshire, since we haven’t seen them since the pandemic first hit. We were apprehensive about the flight, but it went smoother than we thought. Flying while masked was something we hadn’t experienced and weren’t looking forward to. Turns out, it wasn’t that bad. I requested a no fighting section, but the airline didn’t have assigned seats.
I did have to arm wrestle a nun for the last available overhead bin space. It wasn’t fair that she wouldn’t agree to a two-out-of-three match, but since it was a short flight, sitting on my carry-on bag wasn’t that uncomfortable. She was an extremely big nun and had obviously been working out.
You can almost sympathize with some of those passengers who have gone berserk and assaulted anyone within reach, including flight attendants and fellow passengers. You’re jammed into even smaller spaces as the airlines add more seats, the air is stuffy to begin with, it’s hard to breathe in a mask and even harder on a long flight. I agree, though, that they’re absolutely necessary in an enclosed space under crowded conditions, like on an airplane.
It will be a lot different in the “Live Free or Die” state, I was thinking before we landed. Not so. New Hampshire’s new motto has to be the “Mask Up or Die” state. Any of the indoor spots we visited required masks and fellow visitors all wore masks. We hadn’t seen a lot of New Hampshire before this trip and really enjoyed the forested rolling hills, picturesque small towns without the schlocky commercialism of too many tourist areas, friendly people, and lots of rocks.
This COVID-19 business is serious stuff and you’d think more people would take it seriously. But for whatever reason, too many people are skipping that simple step of getting vaccinated to protect themselves and others. What are they thinking and what will it take to wake up the anti-vaxxers?
How about hefty fines for refusing to get vaccinated? That probably won’t help. Paying people to get their shots hasn’t been a big incentive. Instead, we need a nuclear option for not getting vaccinated, the harshest penalty of all – a 24-hour ban on internet use.
When you hear about a pandemic, you know it’s bad, but you also rationalize that it can’t last forever. This one might be different. This invisible killer might be around for a long time. We might never get rid of it completely, but at least we can take common-sense steps to limit its effects – hand washing, social distancing, wearing masks indoors, and getting vaccinated. We know how to deal with it. We just need the will to do it.
Masked and vaxxed columnist Bill Pritchard, who has worked in community journalism for 40 years, writes from Frederick. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org