DY: In Just a Few Words (#59)
I admit it. It was a stupid idea.
We spent our Thanksgiving family weekend in Michigan. In fact, lots of people did that. I suspect most of them were there for the athletic contest between The University Up North and The Ohio State University.
Far be it for me to sit in the cold outdoors at the Big House with a bunch of unmasked Wolverines watching a football game. Hard to pick out on TV how many of the 107,000 people were masked at the open air game, but it sure wasn’t many. Why would they need to be? They are a tough lot, especially the shirtless kids from one of the local fraternities who convinced themselves they are invincible. On Saturday, their team was better than our team. But, just wait until 2022. We’ll restore order at The Shoe in Columbus next November.
Rather than fighting through the mob at the game, our family of five adults landed upon a great idea. Let’s jump in the car and motor a few miles north of Detroit to a really large discount mall. Now that’s a smart idea!
It’s not like we haven’t done something like this before. On multiple Black Friday’s we have gone to Frankenmuth, a German community upstate of Detroit with lots of good food and nice stores including Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store. There is never a shortage of shoppers in Frankenmuth on Black Friday, but frankly it pales by comparison to the crowds we experienced at the discount mall.
The mall was jammed beyond belief. The number of unmasked shoppers was astonishing. There were thousands upon thousands of Michiganders packed into tight indoor spaces with long lines waiting to just get into their favorite stores and lengthy waits to check out with bargains. When I think of potential spreader events, I will long remember this mall. People from all walks of life doing exactly what the scientists say not to do. Jammed into high foot traffic spaces where the very idea of social distancing was clearly intended for people from Mars.
I feel it is important to add here that the five of us ALL wore our masks. And we wore them over our mouths AND noses. Many of the other 15% or so wearing masks cannot make this claim. And, for sure, the 85% of open-faced shoppers cannot. Did I mention I heard a little sneezing and coughing along the way? Let’s just say this experience has me learning to enjoy online shopping. My computer tests negative.
Oh well, just like those shirtless kids at the football game in Ann Arbor, I thought I was invincible. When I was home again, I learned a startling new fact: A higher percentage of Michigan residents are fully vaxxed than in Ohio. Fifty-four percent fully vaxxed in the state up north vs. 52% in the Buckeye State. Not that either 54% or 52% are impressive stats. It sounds more like a basketball score. But, whatever it is, Michigan won the big football game and is also winning the Great Vax Race.
I don’t know about you, but everyone in our family is triple-vaxxed - two Pfizer's and a booster. One game nobody will win - be they from Michigan, Ohio or Mars - is the COVID Bowl. We have to start protecting ourselves and others. We have it within our power to knock COVID out, but too many of us are listening to the wrong voices or behaving like the pandemic is in our rear view mirror. It isn’t. Perhaps we need to adjust our behavior. And, that includes me. I’m not going back into what I refer to as house arrest, but I am going to recognize the ugly truth that COVID and its offshoot variants are going to be with us for a much longer time than any of us thought likely. I try to remember to wear my mask in public spaces.
No immunologist would ever advise going into a packed indoor mall on Black Friday during a global pandemic - especially without a mask. But, all the science deniers were out in fall force last week in Michigan - and I suspect Ohio as well. I plead guilty to my poor judgment. Going forward I’d much rather be the Grinch who killed Christmas than the Grinch who killed myself or somebody else.
On that happy note, enjoy the upcoming Holidays. But, like alcohol consumption, don’t get carried away.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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