An email exchange with an old friend, and fellow newspaper reporter, still living in and working in Washington, DC, reminded both of us that we are not getting any younger.
Much of our discussion centered on aches of pains of age, along with the pain of dealing with an out-of-control government complicated by a discredited president who refuses to concede the election he clearly lost.
“Brings back memories of the 2000 debacle,” he wrote. “But this one is worse, much worse.”
We both covered the disputed election between George W. Bush and Al Gore and the “hanging chads” controversy that was decided by the Supreme Court.
Nine months after that, we would be caught up covering 9/11, the event that changed America and the world.
His wife contracted, but appears to have recovered from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“That was too much of a close call,” he said. “Helps bring things into perspective.”
Kem Kemp, a high school teacher in Houston, agrees.
A few weeks ago, she didn’t know anyone personally who had tested positive for the coronavirus, she told The New York Times in an interview. Then her roommate came down with Covid-19. So did her brother, a dentist in Amarillo. So did a neighbor and two did two faculty members at the private school where she teaches, followed by two students.
“Before, we were watching the numbers on the news,” Ms. Kemp, 62, told the Times. “Now it’s started creeping into my neighborhood, my school, my home — right where I’m existing.”
In rural Floyd County, the cases mount. Four were added in Sunday’s report from the Virginia Department of Health and Monday’s report brought another. At least 284 have the virus in our county and 15 have died. We know too many who have caught the virus. One died. So have friends we know elsewhere in the country and world.
In Virginia, 3,800 had died by Sunday’s report. So had 251,268 in America. Virginia has more than 200,00 infections. America reports 11.2 million.
Monday’s VHS report shows 2,677 new cases in the 24-hour period that ended at 5 p.m. Sunday. Gov. Ralph Northam has issued new restrictions and others are expected to follow.
The United States surpassed 11 million reported virus cases on Sunday, with one million of those tallied in just the last week. The daily average of new cases is up by 80 percent from two weeks ago. More than 69,000 people were in American hospitals with Covid-19 on Saturday; more than 1,100 deaths are being reported each day on average.
Those alarming numbers — the highest case numbers and death toll in the world — underscore a reality found in small towns, big cities and sprawling suburbs alike: The coronavirus has become personal.
Researchers estimate that nearly all Americans have someone in their social circle who has had the virus. About a third of the population knows someone — from a close relative to a neighbor to a co-worker to a friend of a friend — who has died from the virus, researchers say. But not everyone is hunkering down in fear or taking precautions as simple as wearing a mask.
While seniors with respiratory or other problems are considered most vulnerable, the disease kills young and old alike.
April Polk in Memphis lost her 24-year-old sister, Lameshia, this summer to Covid-19.
“I was one of the ones that didn’t take it seriously, and it took for me to lose my little sister to realize how real this virus is,” Polk told the Times. “Every day we’re suffering, and we have to be reminded of what happened and how it happened to her.”
Mike Weinhaus of St. Louis and his wife were hospitalized with Covid-19. Two of his children and daughter-in-law were infected too.
“When I see people that aren’t practicing social distancing and refuse to wear masks, I do not go up to them and say, ‘You’re making a big mistake,’ because you aren’t going to win that battle,” Weinhaus told the Times.
Jennifer Stacy, 57, a budget analyst living in Locust Grove in Orange County, Va., worried about the relaxation of restrictions over the summer by Gov. Ralph Northam. She worries about her mother, who lives in Charlottesville.
She was awaiting results from a test for the virus when interviewed by the Times.
“I used to mask up and go to the grocery store,” she said in the interview. “Now I am ordering online with curbside delivery. I still did not anticipate Covid would come into my own house.”
In Floyd County, we continue to see people without masks huddling close together. We’ve reached the point where we won’t enter a store that has people inside without masks.
The danger is real. So is the foolishness of too many who live among us.