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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: September 16, 2020

The Rock in the Pond

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

We are now at the six month mark since Mike and I started living our lives to avoid getting Covid. It hasn't been much fun. It has meant painful distance from our kids, our friends, our church family and many of our relatives. But we are both over 60, both have pre-existing conditions and tend to be naturally cautious. There have been long hospital vigils in our time together. We are enjoying our senior years and each other, and a trip to a bar or a festival isn't worth the roll of the dice to us. Besides that, I come to Marinette one day a week to have the privilege of hanging out with my Mom. (I won't aggravate her by telling you how old SHE is, but I am 64 so you can guess!) Obviously, I'd never, ever forgive myself if I gave her the virus.

I am cognizant not everyone feels the virus is a significant risk. Luckily, since I don't have to report to a workplace to earn a living, I've been able to stay home more, and adjust my volunteer work to working alone while still trying to do some good in this world.

But I am frustrated, and disappointed with a rock being thrown in my little pond. This rock will make a splash and then sink, but the waves of disruption from its abrupt entry into the pond will continue to spread for some time. The "rock" is a political rally in Mosinee, the nearest town/"pond" to my home.

I understand anyone going to this no-mask required, no social distancing event is making their own informed decision. And I assume none of them have a Mom, Grandpa or child in their lives with at risk conditions. But my problem is those rings on the pond. The crowd, with out of town attendees, security and safety workers, media representatives, and support staff, will enter our small pond, some of them carrying, perhaps unknowingly, the virus. (You can have the virus and be spreading it without having a detectable fever.) The virus will spread to others, and the spread will not respect the splash zone of impact at the rally. If it did, and it impacted no one other than those who voluntarily attend, it would be of less interest to me.

But no, the virus will spread. It may spread to the CNA who cares for your Mom at the nursing home. It may be the bartender at your favorite stop. Possibly your child's teacher, because his wife attended the event. Maybe your Mom attends, and she'll get it. She is a checkout at the local grocery store.

Perhaps this rally is critically important to the election, although my guess would be most who attend voluntarily have already made up their minds to support the candidate present. I kind of doubt too many undecided voters will be there. But perhaps I am wrong.

But no matter, I struggle to understand what justifies the consequences. What the entire final consequences are we will never know, because one person who contracts Covid and dies via her daughter whose friend's father attended the rally is unlikely to be tracked back to the original exposure at the event. But it is entirely predictable such things will happen and may continue to happen even after the election is over. We are still averaging 1,000 deaths in our country every single day.

What it reminds me of is some highly effective sex education I was exposed to in college. The gist of it was, if you have sexual contact with someone, you are having contact with everyone they've had prior sexual contact with. The intent was to stop the spread of venereal diseases and as you can see, it stayed with me. The spread of Covid works the same way. The person you have unprotected contact with may have had contact with someone else with the virus, and now you've been exposed, too.

The local community is struggling, like most others, to return to normal. They are trying to do in-person school. Businesses want to return to pre-Covid levels of foot traffic. Restaurants are still hurting. This event will not help. It may well set the community back significantly.

And yes, if you are wondering, I'd feel the same way about a local county fair, a local gun show, or a local concert. Large gatherings of any kind, regardless of any political affiliation.

This is unlikely to impact me. I will continue to avoid contact with most other people. I will avoid the community and travel further for groceries. I'll consistently wear my mask, wash my hands and social distance. But it will hurt my adopted "small pond" and some of the people who live there. How badly, we won't know for a couple of months. My frustration is on behalf of others.

Book I am reading: "The Secret Life of Trees" by Peter Wohllenben. A non-fiction deep dive into the biology, sociology and magic of trees " the amazingly complex and sophisticated organisms we share the planet with, and a delightfully upbeat read for me.

Unexpected good news of the week: Australian's winter flu season was surprisingly light. The predominant theory is the precautions we follow for Covid stymied the normal spread of the flu virus, resulting in many fewer cases of flu. Here's hoping we will also avoid a severe flu season.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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