Summertime, and the Living is Queasy

Mike Lawson • Perspective • July 15, 2020

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Well, remember when they were saying the summer heat would just about wipe this COVID-19 thing out because viruses don’t like heat? I guess none of the viruses in Florida and Texas got the message – or any of the other seasonally oppressively hot states, which is most of them. It’s a scorcher in Tennessee as I type, and we too are experiencing a surge in cases.

Why? Well, I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, but I suspect from simple anecdotal observations that too many people are not paying attention to science, or doctors, or are just listening to the ones played on TV.

Since my last trip to the convention of the American Bandmasters Association, the first week of March, held in Biloxi, Mississippi, I have gone no more than 25 miles each direction from my home exactly twice. One was a trip to Costco, where masks are “mandatory” and I saw, I am guessing, about 98 percent compliance with that. Everyone had one on, but there were a few people who seemed to only breathe through their chin. The other was a drive out to the Gibson Guitar factory, where I alerted the Repair and Restoration department contact via text that I was in the parking lot. Everyone was masked up, as the factory was partly re-opened and nobody was allowed in who was not an employee walking through their temperature-checking and other precautionary measures. I was met by the repair guy who got my credit card, walked back in to run it, then brought out my white Les Paul Custom that needed a chip of paint restored on the headstock.

Other than that, I have been about two miles or so each way to Walmart and our grocery chain Publix, and a small local grocery. When it comes to social distancing and masks and precautions, Walmart is trying and Publix is trying, but the small store, not so much. I live, as I guess most of us do, around a lot of people who think the virus impacts people based on their politics and religion. Very little concern is being shown by at least half, if not more, to the fellow humans shopping in the store by people ignoring the masks requirements, direction for aisles, or any other measures. It’s almost being done as a badge of honor. I don’t have that luxury. I care for my disabled daughter, and her personal assistant and she are both susceptible, so we take every precaution. Then I see the images of people at the bars in downtown Nashville, shoulder-to-shoulder, mask-less, living it up like this isn’t real. We all see the same thing in stores, on TV, and social media, along with videos of people going ballistic over being asked to cover their face.

Meanwhile, I am watching the calendar days whiz by like the blades of a fan. We are only four or five weeks away from schools re-opening. Four or five weeks with no real, good guidelines. Every district and state for itself. Children, teachers, parents, staff, all at heightened risk for exposure. Other countries that exercised self-control, wore masks, sheltered and didn’t open so quickly, and didn’t stamp their feet and throw a fit, are not facing this. Science does not care what we believe, or feel, or our anecdotes, or favorite talking heads from either side of an aisle say, and it doesn’t believe in conspiracies, either. Canada has greatly reduced its exposure. New Zealand pretty much eliminated this by now.

What did they do differently that is allowing their students and teachers to make more solid plans for their new school year? When will we ever learn?

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