Virus infections, deaths, and zombies

A sports columnist writes that those who support putting our young on athletic courts or fields are "zombies."

We hear a lot of excuses — good and bad — from those who say athletics could and should resume at high school, college, and professional levels in our pandemic-ridden society.

Are we fooling ourselves to think — even for an instant — that having sports events during a deadly pandemic is not stupid and dangerous? COVID-19 virus outbreaks have sidelined players, put many in hospitals, killed too many, postponed or canceled games, and brought chaos to anyone who tries to conduct a “normal” season.

High schools, with fall sports, pushed to late Spring of next year, are attempting to start modified boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons later this month with practice starting Monday in Virginia, but several localities have said “no” and others are expected to follow.

Sports columnist Sandy Jenkins called out the National Football League this week for allowing the “zombies” who run the current season to put players and staff in too much danger.

“Here we are, still living through this damn zombie movie,” she wrote Wednesday. “Only the zombies aren’t the living dead; they’re the incompetent braindead in living bodies, jerkily animated by their own impervious wants, sightless and hollowed out, incapable of self-preservation yet wreakers of havoc and destruction on others.”

Jenkins notes that “it took just one zombie on the Baltimore Ravens who neglected to cover his nose and mouth with a mask to thereby wreck his own team, and with a ripple effect of infection, plunge the NFL into organizational chaos.”

She continues:

They’re easy to spot, zombies: They’re the un-sentient, disconnected husks who walk around breathing potential hell on their colleagues and neighbors. They lurch clumsily into the midst of crowded rooms with their masks either missing or dragging around their chins, spreading their odorless danger mercilessly as they shout. Steve Saunders, strength coach of the Ravens? Clearly a zombie. Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Blake Bortles, Brett Rypien, and Jeff Driskel are a whole cohort of zombies, mobile in body but empty-skulled, lax, and evidently less than cooperative about their contacts. See, one thing about zombies is that they are not just unthinking. They are aggressively unthinking.

The invasion of COVID zombies is not limited to professional sports or even sport itself. The Hillstone Group that owns several restaurants in and around Phoenix would not allow employees to wear masks. One employee had to sue to be given the right to use protective gear on the job.

Result? Health officials in Arizona say a “new viral surge” is like “a major forest fire without an evacuation order.”

Too many of our government leaders urge people to “exercise their rights” to avoid masks and use anger, threats, and violence against anyone who tries to get them to take even minimal safety precautions.

Four quarterbacks for the Denver Broncos removed their NFL-issued tracking devices to hide their movements as they roamed others without masks. All tested positive for the virus and a wide receiver had to try to be the team’s quarterback this past weekend. Denver got stomped in the game. The action of the players shows they abandoned all common sense.

Defensive end Calais Campell of the Ravens suffers from asthma, which causes serious complications with COVID-19.

“This virus is brutal,” tweeted the seriously ill Campbell. “I pray no else has to go through this.”

One of the stupid arguments used to allow sports during a pandemic is the absurd claim that younger athletes are in top physical shape and can weather the virus.

Try telling that to 24-year-old Ryquell Armstead of Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s in the hospital for the second time for serious breathing problems brought on by the virus. Or Buffalo Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney, who is fighting for his life with myocarditis, a deadly heart disease given to him by COVID-19.

“The zombies inside the locker rooms suppose themselves pre-inoculated by their physical superiority and their privileged habitations, fortified by private laboratory tests,” writes Jenkins. “Zombies, as we know, are highly unemotional and unimaginative, so they are incapable of projecting themselves into a hospital bed.”

She concludes:

Maybe the scariest thing of all about zombies is their vacancy. They have a blank recklessness, with their assumption that no plague can touch them, and it matters not the least if it touches others. If there is a meaning to the zombie metaphor in all those horror films, it’s about a moral void in a culture gone badly wrong with carelessness.

Zombies don’t have to be bat-bitten, red-eyed raveners, sinister and recomposed. They can be stalkers, sleepers. Perfectly normal-seeming executives, colleagues, neighbors. And they can be real. The only tell is their utter smugness as they stare through evidence of exponential infections, ICUs at capacity, and skyrocketing death rates, and yet blithely go on trying to colonize your lungs. Don’t just avoid them. Call them out, so others can see them.

COVID-19 cases increased by 2,023 infections in Virginia in a 24-hour period that ran from 5 p.m. Tuesday until 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to the daily report by the Virginia Department of Health. Deaths stood at 4,147 in the Old Dominion and 279,971 have died nationwide with 14.3 million infected.

Floyd County added eight more cases on Wednesday for a total of 363. On Aug. 1, the virus count in the county was 33, about six cases a month. From Aug 1 to Dec. 2, we have added more than 75 a month — nine times the rate.

The zombies continue to roam among us.