From the Desk of Dennis Richardson, Magic Valley Publishing: On Masks and Vaccine(s)

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   Like me, many of us were up past midnight Jan. 1, 2020 full of optimism and excitement to welcome the new year as well as a new decade. Those who went on to bed before midnight did so with the knowledge that if and when they awoke the new year would be here. Perhaps one of the biggest concerns might have been remembering to write 2020 on checks and documents instead of 2019.

   It was the dawn of the 2020s. Vacation and travel were made for the new year. Events were put on the schedule. Calendars were marked. Plans were made.

   Then the proverbial monkey wrench: COVID-19.

   Moments after 2020 had begun Executive Orders 1-29 and counting came down from our governor that determined what workers were deemed “essential” and what events were “acceptable to attend”. We were encouraged to “self-quarantine” staying “safer at home” while the virus seemed to have little announced effect on violent and destructive protests which were sanctioned as “OK”. Church services, even outdoor services held amidst the clean air from the confines of our cars, family funerals and celebrations were said to be dangerous. These are scary times. Welcome to 2020.

   Most small businesses were asked to close, yet crowds flocked to the large box conglomerates Walmart, Costco, Target, Lowes and Home Depot. Their parking lots bulged while Mom and Pop business parking lots remained empty. And the lights were out.

   Come on. It’s “just a mask” and “social distancing” is not too much to ask, they say.

   We were somewhat happy when along came stimulus money to replace lost paychecks because of the closings and furloughs. Many Americans were given $1,200, 2,400 and more depending on family size. The money was welcomed and we were encouraged to spend it to stimulate the economy. Where was there anywhere to spend it? The only reasonable answer: Walmart, Costco, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot.

   Mom and Pop store owners full of envy about the larger retailers remained closed, stayed home, out of toilet paper of all things. And the store shelves were empty.

   Many businesses received Payroll Protection Program (PPP) “loans” to discourage full-scale layoffs and more unemployment applications. Most of the PPP Small Business Administration loans will be forgiven.

   Then we were told that “cash may have the virus on it. We can’t give change.” News arrived of a coin shortage and we were told to use plastic. It sounds good but those level-headed thinkers deduced that eliminating cash does not work. Using plastic-only, every buy we make can be traced.

   Public schools systematically closed. Proms, graduations, spring festivals and other time-honored events cancelled. Even baseball season. There were no spring sports.

   Drones with facial-recognition technology kept track of who we saw and where we shopped and dined. Even toilet paper disappeared. Quickly,

   Hate grew between compliance hawks and those who refused to comply.

   Prayers went up for COVID-19 to dissipate and if that wasn’t possible then that a vaccine would be found.

   The vaccine!

   If we get a vaccine, expect long lines to form with more social distancing. Most will comply. Like a mask mandate, many will not get a vaccine and therefore open new avenues of protest.

   Will we be required to show proof of a vaccine to enter stores or in order to book travel? Are we really no more than a number?

   The new school year begins in less than a month. Some say that will be better for our children while the other side says that because of public school the virus will escalate. Teachers are nervous. We are in “uncharted waters” at best.

   While most of us have had enough and are weary of those who have turned the whole debacle into political platforms while those in control are turning us into socialists.

   “More stimulus money” is the battle cry.

   More control is the answer. Our grandchildren will pay the bill.

   When will enough be enough?

   Time will tell.