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  • Last modified 46 days ago (Aug. 5, 2020)

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What happens when idiocy goes viral

We’d much rather be talking about people fulfilling their dreams — a veteran mechanic finally getting to open his own shop, a police officer at long last following in the flatfoot footsteps of his family.

We’d prefer writing about the irony of a thousand-dollar bridge on lovers’ lane faithfully inspiring generations for 133 years — only to learn it needs $183,000 in refurbishing.

Maybe we could ogle at the oddities of passing counterfeit bills, of trying to break into as assisted living center when in need of a hospital, or of brazenly stealing vehicles and equipment then stupidly ditching one of the cars in a lagoon.

We could talk about promising progress with cess pools, with algae infestations, with neighbors who won’t mow their yards, or with peanut-thieving raccoons vanquished from Friend Mother’s backyard after a crackdown by police officers turned critter catchers.

Or we could ask who’s paying for last week’s inadvertent end to no-till farming of the asphalt of 190th Rd.

But we can’t.

The elephant in the room — and we’re not talking about the GOP — is showing absolutely no signs of leaving. So we — and you — are stuck within yet another coronavirus commentary, for which we can continue our alliteration by summing up the character of our crack county commissioners with a single word: Cowardly.

Contrary to what constituents with magenta-tinged collars might think (or, at least, opine), commissioners didn’t exactly model courage by watering down, waffling, then totally whiffing on reinstating a statewide mask mandate they earlier overturned.

COVID-19 isn’t some creature from the D.C. swamp. It’s not a myth made up by state-owned Chinese phone manufacturers. Nor is it a political correctness thrust upon us by leftist East Coast media. It’s real, and it’s still with us — not a whit more or less dangerous than it was when we threw half the country out of work to try to slow its spread.

To be sure, it’s not ebola. The death rate is — and always has been — somewhere around that of flu. Any deaths are too many, of course, but what makes COVID worse than flu is that we have almost no way to treat it and it can spread faster than a Kardashian rumor amped up by five shots of Five-Hour Energy, a dozen Nicoderm patches, and repeat helpings of a grande/venti/trenta ice cream sundaes masquerading as coffee.

Now is not the time to even consider resurrecting non-essential activities we temporarily paused. And now is definitely not the time to force business people to police public safety.

Business people need customers, especially after a long stay-at-home period. Expecting them to voluntarily turn away paying customers by requiring everyone — including those who don’t even suspect they’re carrying the virus — to wear a mask is unreasonable.

The whole reason government exists is to do things for the common good that private parties can’t or won’t. Requiring face coverings, with some teeth behind whatever mask rule is adopted, is exactly what government exists to do.

Rather than do their duty, however, commissioners fretted and fumed Friday about foolhardy fantasies invented by those who have isolated themselves so deeply in the propaganda of One American News and Falon Gong’s Epoch Times to continue to believe that masks are about protecting the wearer and, as such, are an unconscionable restriction on freedom and liberty.

Slowly but surely, we’re watching as sensible people postpone or cancel big events, from the annual Hett family reunion this weekend to Hillsboro’s Arts and Crafts Fair next month. Some events, like Marion’s Art in the Park, stupidly try to hang on, but at some point they, too, will be forced to realize that discretion is the better part of valor.

Nightmare scenarios persistently try to awaken us, the latest being confirmation of COVID-19 among workers serving some of the county’s most vulnerable at Hillsboro Senior Center. Days before that, it was COVID spreading like wildfire among the mainly undocumented immigrants jailed at Chase County’s profit-center jail — the type of facility Marion County rightly refused to build a decade or so ago.

Yet still we see every other person failing to maintain social distancing, failing to put off trips out of town, and failing to do something as simple and caring as pulling a piece of cloth over the face and mouth to prevent infecting others.

How long will we have to do this? Maybe it will last a long as the habit of handshakes always being done with the right hand. As with mask wearing, that habit originated as a sanitary measure. But it persisted even after the invention of toilet paper, for which left hands previously had substituted.

We understand parents’ need to get day-care for their kids so they can attempt to earn a living at least as good as what’s offered on the government’s dole. But the charade about re-starting school is mostly just that — a charade.

The only way to make school truly safe would be to test every child, teacher, and staff member once every four days, and even then to require six-feet of distance and a mask at nearly all times. This simply isn’t possible for most classes, activities, and sports. Spending trillions to try to make it possible, all the while knowing it’s likely to fail, is an insipid pandering to half-wits who demand a premature return to normalcy when absolutely nothing has changed.

All the silly charges and countercharges about how 911 would be overloaded by mask calls have not been borne out. And our neighbors, like Dickinson County to the north, which never overturned the governor’s mask order, have less than half the infection rate that Marion County has.

Watching county commissioners let a mask mandate die without asking even one question of its author and leading proponent — the expert in health they hired to protect us — was like watching a person attempt do-it-yourself brain surgery.

If they’re lucky, commissioners will have lobotomized themselves so they don’t remember what a grave mistake they made — assuming enough of our neighbors are Godly enough creatures to keep us out of the grave by doing what they know in their soul to be right: wearing face masks whenever in public.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Aug. 5, 2020

 

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