Holiday Hodgepodge: Lights, Health, Pandemic Paranoia

Osakis Hosting Holiday Light Parade
AbbeyOnAir, 98.1 – Minnesota’s New Country (November 17, 2020)

“…Tractors, lawnmowers, golf carts, cars, any vehicle you can decorate is welcome to be part of this festive holiday event….”
(photo by Isaac Schweer)

The Osakis Chamber of Commerce parade sounds like a good idea. Provided that they take pandemic-related precautions to keep folks comparatively safe. I’m guessing that this year’s sidewalk watchers will be spread out more, and wearing face masks.

But I won’t be going. Even though Osakis is only 20 minutes down the road. Standing on a central Minnesota sidewalk after sundown in early December isn’t my idea of a good time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still around, and making a difference. Maybe that’s this post’s unifying idea:

Macy’s Parade

I’m not sure how Macy’s and NBC plan to have their Thanksgiving Day parade “live from 34th Street.”

Not in detail, that is. I’ve read that Macy’s will be setting up balloon-towing vehicles for a promenade around Herald Square in New York City.

The Macy’s website is long on assurance, short on details. What I saw of it, at any rate:

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

“…Since we aren’t marching down the streets of NYC this year, the only place to see all the performances, gigantic balloons & fabulous floats is from the comfort & safety of your home.”

News: Good and Sort-of-Good

The Masked Minnesotan Rides AgainI got good news this week. Lab results said that my A1c number is significantly lower than it was three months ago.

And, this is the good news part, it’s in the normal range.

Among other things, that means there will be no change in my medications.

That’s not exactly good news, since I’d prefer not having more than a half-dozen prescription bottles on my desk.

On the other hand, no change in meds means that my smorgasbord of health problems hasn’t added a buffet or salad bar.

Our family doctor said he wanted to keep me out of the clinic for the next six months. Seems that he’s expecting issues related to COVID-19 over the winter.

I’d say he has a reasonable concern. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped. Two promising vaccines may or may not be useful. And America’s holiday season will be interesting this year.

Rampantly Raging Death and Dramatic Drumbeats

(From Minnesota Department of Health, used w/o permission.)
(Minnesota deaths related to COVID-19, March 21-November 18, 2020.)

As of today, 2,961 folks have died from COVID-19, and 49 may have died as a result of the disease. That’s not happy news. Neither is what looks like the start of a second wave.

I think having the data publicly available and online is a good idea.

As for what public officials and Minnesota Public Radio are saying —

My hat’s off to Minnesota’s Governor Walz and MPR, for adding drama to my news feed.

Latest on COVID-19 in MN: ‘Darkest part of this pandemic’
MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) News (November 17, 2020)

“…the disease’s rampant, accelerating spread is forcing the hand of public health officials. By Thanksgiving, Minnesota could be seeing more than 10,000 new cases reported daily, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters….

“…With COVID-19 raging now, Walz and public health authorities made it clear that the current situation is worsening as the virus runs largely unabated across the state….

“…’It is no secret that the country, and especially the Upper Midwest, is in the grips of the darkest part of this pandemic,‘ Walz told reporters Monday, hours after the Health Department reported more grim data on the state’s accelerating pandemic.

“While the governor expressed hope of a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ amid news of effective vaccines on the way, he acknowledged the drumbeat of cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue….”
[emphasis mine]

Monday’s Death Toll in Rural Minnesota

In sharp contrast, Lakeland Broadcasting’s update had all the pizazz of a weather report.

COVID-19-related deaths reported in Chippewa, Swift and Stearns Counties
JP Cola, Lakeland Broadcasting (November 16, 2020)

“…Statewide there were 31 more deaths reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, putting the state’s death toll now at 2905.

“As for additional cases of coronavirus, there were 7559 reported in Minnesota Sunday. The state’s total is now at 223,581, and of that number, 172,873 have recovered. There was also a record number of test results reported, just over 60,300….”

I’m not sure what accounts for the difference in tone.

Speculation and a Serious Subject

Maybe Minnesota’s governor and other public officials figure we won’t pay attention unless they get us riled up. Or assume that we can’t act rationally unless we’re scared silly.

Or maybe the Governor’s and MPR’s rampant, raging drumbeat is simply the way city folks express themselves.

Living in an increasingly diverse country, I’ve learned to accept cultural differences. And that’s another topic.

Or maybe not so much. I’ll grant that emotion, particularly fear, is a powerful motivator.

But I strongly suspect, and hope, that most of us don’t want to spread a potentially-lethal disease. And I think many of us can understand common-sense advice.

I also think we can act sensibly. Which is arguably easier, if experts and authority figures aren’t trying to frighten us into using our brains.

Streaming Together for Thanksgiving

(From CDC, used w/o permission.)
(Here’s an idea, from the CDC: have a virtual Thanksgiving Day meal.)

Norman Rockwell's 'Freedom From Want' painting.I don’t envy public health officials.

Particularly when doing their job includes telling folks that a traditional family get-together is a bad idea.

The last I heard, Thanksgiving is still a time when many American families gather.

It’s a joyful and/or stressful holiday, depending on family dynamics.

It’s also, this year, a chance for college kids to infect everyone else. Or get infected.

Not that college students are more likely than anyone else to desire disease and death for those closest to them.

I don’t envy students who will be choosing between staying in a dubiously-disinfected dormitory and risking the welfare of their siblings, parents, grandparents and other kin.

This year’s Halloween was very quiet here in Sauk Centre. My guess is that Thanksgiving will be, too.

Sound, Fury and the Usual Paranoia

Great Seal of the United States, reverse side, colorized.Maybe I’d achieve fame, of a sort, by passing along fervent warnings that THEY are plotting to CONTROL us with face masks.

Or that COVID-19 vaccines are really a sinister means to REWRITE OUR RNA: no doubt with nefarious intent!!!!!!!

But I won’t.

Even though I saw ‘face mask’ and ‘RNA’ warnings this week.

There’s quite enough sound and fury online, without me adding to the mess.

The “RNA” thing has potential to become a popular conspiracy theory’s centerpiece.

Two promising COVID-19 vaccines actually do use messenger RNA. If or when they’re approved, they’ll be the first of their kind passed by the FDA.

I probably won’t take time to delve into the practicality of mind control through face masks. Honestly, that’d be weird even by Japanese monster movie standards.

But I might talk about the allegedly-malevolent messenger RNA thing. There’s interesting science involved.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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2 Responses to Holiday Hodgepodge: Lights, Health, Pandemic Paranoia

  1. Peggy Haslar says:

    I do appreciate your common sense approach! And the comparison between dire paranoia and “weather report pizzaz” is hilarious. Thanks for keeping us grounded.

Thanks for taking time to comment!