While I’m Hiding Out, Others Are Just Going On With Their Lives


I’ve decided to hide out near my daughter in Missouri until “The COVID” dies down in Florida, mostly because I respect the odds, especially when it comes to gambling with my life. Missouri has had 43,000 cases of the virus since the outbreak started, with 1,200 people dying. Florida has had ten times that amount with 420,000 cases and 5,800 deaths.

But let’s not scare ourselves unnecessarily. It’s not like we’re living in Miami or St. Louis. If we confine ourselves to counties (and I literally mean “confine”), Jackson County (where I am) accounts for 2,500 of Missouri’s total with 50 of the deaths. In Florida, Palm Beach County has had 30,000 cases with 750 deaths.

It’s scary, and so we must ask ourselves, “Who can we blame for all this?”

Florida is roughly three times the population of Missouri (20 million people vs. six million) and hosts roughly three times the number of tourists as well (131 million as compared to 41 million). It is also interesting to note that Florida’s tourism numbers dipped only 10 percent in the first quarter of the year, while Missouri’s tourism industry didn’t even “open for business” until June. So it is easy to see where this rampant virus came from — outsiders!

Now, logic would tell you that if I was in Florida the early part of the year but then ran for my summer home in June, that I myself became one of Missouri’s “outsiders.” Guilty as charged. But I did self-quarantine. I hunkered down, alone and miserable, for 14 full days to see if any symptoms showed up. I was lucky.

And I want to stay “lucky,” so I wear a mask. And gloves. And have sanitizing wipes in my car, my purse and on the kitchen counter. I’ve used up several bottles of bleach and a few more of rubbing alcohol. I’ve entirely given up fun outings, interesting friends and any form of coughing. It scares people.

But I’m not bored. My new hobby is being judgmental. If I see you sneezing into your hand instead of your elbow? Shame on you! Not wearing a mask in a public place? You’re a pariah! Wearing a mask but letting your nose hang out? You must be in total denial!

To help myself stay on top of this fun game, I also collect scary stories. My nephew is an ICU nurse in Petaluma, Calif., where they are running out of equipment and their face shields are cracked. He’ll ask a patient if they want Jell-O, turn around at the door to ask, “Which flavor?” and they are suddenly dying. I know a minister who conducted a small-town wedding where not one of the 100 guests was wearing a mask. “But you were, right?” I ask. Nothing but guilty silence. Today, the lady behind me at the bank told of a “healthy 41-year-old friend of mine” who got seriously ill with the virus. “I’m currently waiting for my own test results!” she boasted. Then why are you at the bank? Why are you talking to me? With your nose hanging out!? Stay home!

Remember in high school history class, when we studied one plague or another? We all thought to ourselves, “Those idiots. If they had just taken simple precautions, they would’ve been all right.” But now we know why so many were afflicted… because they were only human, just like us.

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