There’s an old jazz standard entitled “Summertime” and it’s most well-known and oft repeated line is: “Summertime…and the livin’ is easy…” I love this song, but in the age of coronavirus, the livin’ isn’t easy, it’s complicated. Many of us during this season of picnics, pools, and patio parties are struggling with what we can, and can’t do now that the pandemic seems to be spiraling out of control again. I found ample evidence of this conflicted state of mind when my husband and I took a trip to get some needed medical testing done in another state.
Summer trips are usually a time to explore, have fun, and play, but the only game we played on this trip was dodging the spiky corona ball.
We drove through the corner of three different states and each had its own rate of infection, and consequent policies and restrictions. It made me crazy, and I longed for some consistency. Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease expert, spoke about the consistency issue. He told a skeptical senate committee the best way to fight the pandemic was with a coordinated and collaborative national effort—not disparate states creating their own policies.
I wish I could have stuffed some of those senators in the car with us on our road trip. Then they could see how scatter-shot our response to Covid-19 has been. At our Utah motel we had a “touchless” check-in and were asked to schedule pool time. But in Wyoming the pool was completely unrestricted and overrun with families having a party. The geology museum was closed in Wyoming though, and another plus, the convenience store clerk wore a mask. In Montana most of the motel staff went without masks, and the bars downtown were swarming with people. This, despite social distancing signs posted everywhere.
Actually, what really caused my head to spin on our trip was how few people wore masks. There was no need for a screaming Karen to have a melt-down over her “right” to go without a mask—because no businesses required them.
In general, I’d estimate less than 30% of the people we saw on our trip wore masks.
I became a little paranoid around all these bare faces, worried someone might spew a virus bubble my way. I started running and shunning people—in the grocery stores, on the sidewalks, down a bicycle path. I was rude and weird-acting—more than usual anyways.
Ironically, probably the closest I came to actually getting an infection was at the hospital where my husband was being tested. I walked right into a big, masked nurse coming out of the ladies restroom. I was as startled as she was, and we both let out a breathy yelp. She blew so much air at me I could smell her morning coffee through my mask. I hoped she was neither saint nor sinner, a church choir member or a bar-hopper, two kinds of known virus-spreaders.
By the end of our trip, when we finally crossed the Idaho state line, I felt relieved. Home is safe, right? Then I checked the local news on my IPhone. When we left Idaho, the infection rate was running over a hundred a day. The news on my cell said for the past several days, corona infections had climbed into the 200’s. As I write this, Idaho’s infection rate was over 400 yesterday.
But it’s summer, and after we unpacked from our trip I drug our big cattle tank into the back yard and filled it with water.
For a few moments, floating in the tank, I was able to relax. I thought then, the livin’ this summer hasn’t been easy, but maybe the fall will be better. Who knows? That’s the thing about the coronavirus, we just don’t know.
Image Credit: Road Trip Image Credit: Not Feeling Well by Diana Hooley Image Credit: Cattle Tank Dip by Diana Hooley