Scene from the dystopian pandemic
There’s an ice cream place just down the road from us. Its not a chain and its run by two local guys. They have a few standard flavors but a lot changes on a daily basis so you kind of don’t know what you’re going to get. They’ve got a limited amount of indoor seating and the place gets jammed on hot summer weekends. That’s really the only drawback – trying to navigate the crowd to select your ice cream. There are times when it kind of feels like I’m going to be crushed against the counter while trying to pay – really people if you let me take my ice cream I’ll get out of your way.
Needless to say, the ‘rona has changed how this place has to operate. They took out all the indoor seating so it is take out only. And, because it is in the middle of a strip mall, they only have one bench to sit on. And that bench faces right into the sun at night so it isn’t pleasant. A lot of people do just take their stuff and sit in their car. Anyway, since we’ve been doing the food delivery, we aren’t out and about after dinner and I haven’t been there this summer.
So, today, I figured it was about time and since I’m not working, I got in right at noon to get a couple of pints to go. It was weird. There’s a big cooler right as you walk in to divide the crowd so you have to head left. There are things on the floor to enforce proper social distancing and they have the flavor board prominently displayed to limit the number of people who have to spend time looking at all the choices before making one. The plexiglass shield is up to keep you and the people scooping mostly apart – the obligatory space at the bottom where we can hand money and they can hand ice cream. But it was something I wanted to do to support them. I wonder if they’ll be able to fully reopen this summer. Probably not.
Starting tomorrow, our brilliant mayor has decided that masks are now mandatory in any indoor space and in outdoor spaces where you can’t practice social distancing. Outside our city, the masks are recommended but not required. Is the number of cases increasing here? Ever so slightly but nothing approaching other places.
Ironically, I also saw the results of a study that concluded that the use of cloth masks by healthcare workers may actually put them at increased risk of respiratory illness and viral infections. Now, to be fair, this was a single study and it looked at people wearing cloth masks for a long period of time – like a shift at work. And it was healthcare workers who were likely around a lot of sick people. If you are putting on a mask to go to the local grocery store, these results likely don’t translate.
But I guess what really bothers me the most is that we can’t really have a conversation about this. Even the CDC only says cloth masks “may” help prevent the spread. Maybe I’m just a rebel at heart but this whole social pressure to conform and wear the mask simply because “experts” say we should just bothers me. We’ve certainly had long enough to run studies to get data to see whether there is truly a benefit or not. It is almost like they are just hoping that this pacifies enough people. It is kind of like airport security – the illusion of doing something whether it truly adds value or not.
Logically, it is probably better than nothing but I’m just not sure how much better. It is like the decisions to lock down which were based on the experience with the influenza over 100 years ago. We were just supposed to trust the experts and if you started to ask questions about the cost associated with the lock down, you got accused of trying to kill people. Even though there were studies suggesting that things like delaying “elective” surgeries did have a cost in lives. I really think a lot of it here was the whole political backdrop and why we couldn’t just have reasonable discussions about the various risks.
So what am I going to do? Well we don’t go out a lot as it is so it will be easy to only shop in stores outside the city limits where I can make a case by case decision. For Rocco, it means we will exclusively be visiting parks outside the city limits. Nobody can convince me that casually walking by someone is going to spread the ‘rona and that’s really been the situation at the parks we go to. Plus the idea of wearing a mask outdoors in summer is not appealing on any level. Again, if there were hard data suggesting this really did reduce the risk, I’d think differently.
But I have my ice cream and it was good. Its the little things that help.