Has anybody else wondered if we will ever return to normal? That is, the kind of normal we knew before COVID-19. Maybe we shouldn’t.
According to a news report I heard today, only 7% of the U.S. public has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. That means sheltering in place and wearing face masks may be working, but it also means we’re still in the first wave and the virus will likely be around for some time.
After some restrictions were recently lifted, we’re now seeing big upsurges of cases in states such as Florida, California, Arizona and Texas. So much for the idea that hot climates kill the virus. The United States is now seeing 35,000 new cases each day. Many of the cases being diagnosed now are in young people — the group that was first to start removing masks, ignoring distancing rules and heading out to beaches and bars.
A couple months ago, people seemed to be taking restrictions more seriously. However, recently I have been in retail stores where none of the employees are wearing masks and few customers have them on. Needless to say, I don’t plan to spend any time in those stores.
On the positive side, the virus death rate seems to be slowing down some. It’s likely that’s because medical personnel are finding better treatment methods to keep people alive and use of certain drugs that help in the process. Nevertheless, more than 124,000 have died in the United States so far and medical experts say that number could increase to 200,000 before the end of the summer, if current trends continue.
It was interesting to watch the recent Belmont Stakes horse race, with the horses running the track at their rapid pace before grandstands that were empty. Somehow it didn’t seem right, not seeing women in their elaborate hats and the white-haired horse owners cheering their colts to the finish line.
Professional golf has already started back, but they don’t depend as much on crowd reaction as other sports. In fact, people are expected to remain totally quiet as golfers tee off or shoot their putt shots on the green. I never did understand that. Basketball fans shout and wave their arms behind the basket as players shoot their foul shots and the crowd roar often prevents football players from hearing signals on an important play. Yet, golf spectators are expected to hold their breath as the golfers swing.
Major League Baseball has announced it will reopen with a shortened season, beginning in late July. Games will be mostly regional to cut down on travel. It’s going to be strange to see the Atlanta Braves at bat without the chanting crowds and tomahawk chops.
Football is a completely different situation and I wonder if we see a season played this year. Football is a contact sport, so there’s no way to avoid all players sharing the same air as their opponents. I read that 20% of players on one team tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. That means it wouldn’t take many plays before both teams and all their coaches would be infected.
There’s something called “herd immunity,” a situation when about 80% of a population has been exposed to a virus and they have either had the disease or developed an immunity. That was what happened with the 1918 flu pandemic. After nearly everyone had been exposed, the disease quickly disappeared. However, that was after more than 675,000 Americans and 50 million worldwide had died. That doesn’t seem like a good way to end our pandemic. Development of a vaccine is more promising.
Meanwhile, I’ll continue to shelter in place, wear my mask when I go out and hope medical science is making great progress on a vaccine.
Winston Jones is a former journalist living in Carrollton.