I miss baseball. It’s been a part of spring and summer for me clear back to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Not this year, though. In honor of baseball, I’ll try to turn a triple play here.
VISITORS: A recent letter to the editor from the owner of the Christmas Tree Restaurant (I miss the chicken and dumplings, too!) said that local residents want summer visitors to stay home. We may not like some things our visitors do, like roar through neighborhoods on ATVs, complain about what we don’t have that they’re used to, clog up the roads with their cars, have fires when they’re banned…but some of us do those things too. We like the visitors. They come every summer to be our neighbors, companions and friends again. They do spend the money that keeps our businesses going.
This year, however, I didn’t want the visitors to come until we had gotten past the worst of COVID-19. We don’t have the resources to keep store shelves completely stocked and healthcare needs completely covered at the best of times, let alone when a doubling of the population would put even more strain on such resources. I wanted visitors to wait where they had more resources and wouldn’t overburden ours. They may not have waited long enough.
MASKS: COVID-19 spreads almost exclusively from one person to another through the air in the form of droplets, spray, and breath from mouth and nose. If the virus can’t reach another person, it can’t infect them. Six feet is about how far a sneeze can reach. Therefore, stay six feet away from others at all times and the virus can’t reach you. Six feet isn’t always possible, so we have the mask.
People can be infected by COVID-19, not have any symptoms, and transmit it to anyone nearby. If everyone, when others are nearby, wears a mask that always covers mouth and nose, the infection can’t escape the mask to infect another. By wearing a mask, you are protecting others. You are also protecting yourself somewhat. The mask can be an impediment to virus entering from outside.
I’ve not seen more than 25% of year-rounders and visitors wearing masks at one time in a store. We have not done a good job of distancing and masking although most stores have tried to encourage it. We should still be distancing and masking now. We have not stopped the virus, so we can expect another outbreak.
Unless you are physically or emotionally unable to wear a mask, there is no good reason not to. It is a crucial part of the methods used to stop the virus. It has worked in many places to turn the curve downward. If you can’t tolerate a little inconvenience and discomfort in order to protect yourself and others, think it through again. If you still won’t wear a mask, go on out and infect each other.
TESTING: From the beginning, the federal government should have made and implemented a centralized plan to find and/or manufacture tests and protective equipment as quickly as possible. It didn’t and the result has been a chaotic and tragic disaster.
Arizona is about 50th in the nation in the rate of testing, yet testing is the way we can detect and isolate the virus and cut off its spread. If we test a large number of people one day and isolate those who test positive, we can then help them endure the course of the disease. We also trace their contacts with others and test those people, isolating as needed. Testing everyone two weeks later would catch new people with the disease. We would isolate them and test their contacts, isolating them as needed. Soon the virus would have nowhere to go and would go into hiding. We can all help to stop the virus by distancing and masking and washing hands and not touching face. Will we?