This State is on Fire!

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Not literally but this was the scream headline in today’s paper. Guess we’ve quickly gone from being a hot spot to being on fire. I didn’t bother reading the story but there was another headline about how the response hasn’t been strong enough. I’m getting a little tired of the people who just want to shut everything down and keep us all trapped at home but more on that later.

Since our governor has taken what I consider a more measured approach, things haven’t been shut down which is nice because there are so many Christmas themed things to do in our city. It is very different this year of course. You can’t just show up at a museum and expect to get in. Everything requires timed tickets so they can control crowd size. Although, they don’t kick you out so it really just keeps the entrance line from backing up.

Masks are everywhere. One place required a temperature check and that we sanitize our hands before entry. Safety first y’all. For the one gallery that everyone wanted to see, they controlled the crowd so you couldn’t enter until the last party had moved on to the next exhibit. There were plexiglass shields and the path was one way through the exhibit – no back tracking allowed. The galleries without the Christmas theme had no such restrictions.

At one place, the bathroom doors were held open (less surfaces to touch and clean). At the other place, they had closed off stalls and sinks. The other museum we went does a festival of Christmas trees with local organizations/charities decorating trees in various themes. Again, they had arrows on the ground to direct you along a path but they weren’t as concerned with back tracking. In certain areas where there were smaller spaces, they had people around to make sure the crowds didn’t get too large.

The only things I felt was overkill was the gift store in one place that required you to put on disposable gloves before you went in. Understand that is probably done to make people feel safe and secure but I think the science is pretty clear that unless someone wipes their nose and touches something and you pick it up, it is highly unlikely that you’ll catch it from handling objects.

We did one outdoor light show at our zoo. They also limited access to the buildings and we decided to not wait in line. Wearing a mask outdoors in the cold was actually kind of a positive. On the one hand, it was nice that it kept crowds down. The downside is that in all these places, it kind of forces you to hurry through – well it does if you are the considerate type who thinks of others. After all, the longer you stand in front of something, the longer someone else has to stand in line waiting to get in.

To me, most of this was reasonable. I know other places have again shut down places like this and I’m sure there are those who feel that we should have done the same. Because we are “on fire”. Again, I’m not minimizing the seriousness of this thing but if our only focus in on the numbers, then we miss the big picture. There are costs to every action. For example, buried on the front page of the “on fire” paper was a headline for a story detailing the number of restaurants that have completely gone away during this thing. That is a significant number of lives that are impacted and there are going to be long term costs.

I guess because a lot of what is going on are things we don’t see. We can’t avoid the numbers and endless scare headlines. But if you keep people shut in and fearful for an extended period of time, I can’t help but feel there will be serious mental health issues down the road. Or perhaps happening right now. Just my opinion but we need things that feel “normal” just to provide some needed distractions. And I think they can be done safely and people can make decisions about how much risk they are willing to take. I’m sure others will disagree but that’s just how I see it.

Here’s what “on fire” looks like. The solid blue line is a ten day average of newly reported cases with the scale on the left. The dotted orange line is a ten day average of newly reported deaths. The dip is the Thanksgiving disruption. This is evidence that deaths lag cases. I really should have waited a couple of days because we had a significant number of newly reported cases from 12/2 to 12/4. The rest of this week will show whether that was a new leg up or just clearing Thanksgiving back log. But the high numbers give the media the excuse to stir up panic.

One thing we should start to see as well is hospitalizations going back up. There is less of a lag between cases and hospitalizations and if that bump in cases is a new leg up, then we should be seeing hospitalizations start another leg up. Right now, that hasn’t happened. But it is one of the signs I’ll be waiting for before concurring that we are actually “on fire”.

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