My suddenly dangerous journey to the outside world. (Spoiler alert: it's suddenly dangerous.)
My story begins–as all stories begin–with my wife telling me to fire up the grill last Sunday. (In the interest of accuracy, she may have used "light." instead of "fire up."
Moving on...with the grill reading 500º on the useless thermometer which must be touching the flame to read that high, I loaded it up with turkey burgers, corn, and potatoes.
(A short digression, I was advised by a writer once to avoid the word "suddenly," because as he said, all things happen suddenly. Suddenly lightning flashed. Suddenly the microwave beeped. Suddenly the propane ran out.)
Anyway, the propane ran out. It was agonizing in its suddenness. Cooking commenced in the traditional method indoors and nobody starved.
That wasn't the dangerous part.
The next morning it was off to fill the propane cannister, and that's where the story took a turn. I entered the establishment (which I shall not name because I don't want to harm their truck renting business) and was greeted by a woman wearing no mask. I was wearing mine. She told me to follow her to the filling area, which of course was outdoors. I went first, rather than trailing this person who could be spewing billions of coronavirus cells into the air. Then I waited at a respectable distance of 90 feet while she filled the tank. Of course I still had to return to the desk indoors to pay, where she and I were separated by a sheet of protective plexiglass. Even so, I should have asked her why she was willing to have me protect her, but was unwilling to return the favor. (I don't think she was a former student, although that would go a long way to explaining this.)
After that I stopped at a nearby home center (which I shall not name because I don't want to harm their selling-everything business) and again encountered three workers sans facial covering. They were in the distinct minority among masked employees, and two of the three worked outside in the garden center and were thus less likely to be lethal, but "less likely to be lethal" is not really a big selling point for me.
Suddenly I went home.
When Connecticut reopened, certain protocols were enacted, one of which was this:
All employees and customers are required to wear a facemask or other cloth face covering that completely covers the nose and mouth, unless doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety due to medical conditions.
If businesses aren't going to do so, they should probably not be open. I did not register a formal complaint—next time I will.
But there's a bigger issue here. The pandemic is not over. I don't pay a lot of attention to cases discovered because more testing will turn up more cases. But yesterday there were 43 Covid-19 deaths in Connecticut, double the number from Tuesday or Monday. Forty-three in one day! And we're on the "doing better" list. Spread that 43 out over the course of a year and that's 16,000 dead. Figures do become sterile and meaningless after a while, but bear with me for one more: 110,000 dead in America in what amounts to three months. I'll leave the possible yearly total to your imagination and math skills. Connecticut has already reached 4120 dead and that has been "achieved" in about 75 days, yet the feeling in the outside world is that we got thing licked—let's hug.
Remember the Trumpian pipe dream of churches filled on Easter Sunday, and remember the weeks after that with armed hooligans wielding their big guns and threatening clerks and custodians? Most Americans opposed that premature reopening, and most Americans today are reluctant to get a haircut, to visit a museum, even to shop for groceries. Trump "won" the presidency by minus three-million votes. He has never had an approval rating higher than half. He speaks only for his base and has no concern for the rest of the country, and yet his mania for re-opening has spread down to the states, and we're all forging ahead as if, like him, we believe the virus has suddenly disappeared.
It suddenly hasn't.