I saw, with sinking
heart and clenched gut, the demonstration in Michigan on Wednesday by those
opposed to the stay-at-home orders, which have slowed the virus spread and
reduced the death rate.
As a country, in
spite of the COVID-19 hot-spots, we are keeping the death rate lower than
was first predicted. This is not because the first predictions were
wrong--it’s because actions have consequences and we have prevented deaths
by staying away from each other and slowing the spread. But the number of
infections and deaths is still rising. On Thursday, the state of Indiana
reported it’s highest numbers yet.
I had a frightening
experience this week, the most frightening for me since the stay-at-home
orders and the state mandated closures of non-essential businesses were
I was in the front
office of the Chesterton Tribune when a large man lunged through the
inner office door, which was left unlocked by mistake.
This person ignored
multiple signs, on the front window, on the outer door and on the inner
door, instructing people to call the office with questions instead of
coming in, to email advertising and news items, etc., and requesting
customers drop subscription payments through the mail slot.
When told he
shouldn’t be in the office he became angry, and shouted, spittle flying,
that he “just wanted to pay a bill.” When I asked (while trying to maintain
6 feet of distance, not enough I feared to avoid the spittle), could he
please drop it in the vestibule, he angrily slapped money on the counter and
handed over his renewal notice, along with the envelope it had been mailed
in and the return envelope, provided to send payment by mail or for
drop off through the mail slot.
I explained we are
trying to abide by the CDC COVID-19 safety guidelines and he should not be
in our office since it was unnecessary, and that he ought to be wearing a
mask when out in public. He claimed, though he drove a very nice late model
car and was slamming cash on the counter, that he “couldn’t afford a mask.”
The encounter shook
me as I came face to face with someone, in my own community, in my own
office, who so obviously doesn’t care that he might be spreading the virus,
cared nothing for my safety (or his own apparently) and became angry,
verbally abusive and physically reckless when challenged.
As frightening as
that is, this person isn’t alone. I’ve seen people gathering together on
lawns, not maintaining a six foot distance; I’ve seen online posts about
‘hanging out with friends’, and other dangerous behaviors people are
engaging in because they believe the rules just don’t apply to them, or they
imagine, wrongly, that they are somehow immune to the virus.
The staff here at
the Chesterton Tribune is striving daily to maintain publication of
the news our community needs and wants.
staff, usually 8 or 9 on any given morning, is down to three people during
mornings, with a couple more in the afternoon who come in to write, help
answer phones and stuff advertising inserts. My world has contracted to
these few people, less than 10, and theirs the same. We come to work, and
are in lock-down; we go home and are in stay-at-home mode. Other Tribune
staff are working from home and we speak to them by phone and only see their
faces on Facebook. This is a strain for all of us, but we do this to protect
our community, our families, ourselves, and each other.
Why? Because we
believe in science. We read and listen to the news. We know the truth is
that we’re in a worldwide pandemic, and we are determined to do our part to
stop the spread of this potentially deadly virus.
We now have no
choice but to lock all the doors to the building, all the time. Because one
person would not read the signs, would not follow the rules, would not wear
a mask, and was willing to put others in danger, not caring who or how many.
A premature push to
“open things up”, from unconcerned citizens and politicians alike, means an
inevitable increase in infections and deaths.
This is how the
virus will rebound and even more infections and deaths will occur.
Until we have the
means to test everyone to determine who has an active case of COVID-19, so
that all those infected can be quarantined, we can’t risk lifting the
stay-at-home edict. To do so would be to lose all the advantage we have
gained so far.
To do so would be a
slap in the face to all the healthcare workers who have made such sacrifices
and faced such danger in treating those infected. It would be a slap in the
face for everyone who has made a sacrifice to reduce the spread.