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Yesterday I went looking for a painter and it led, as most things do these days, to covid-19.

I don’t need a painter, particularly, but I bumped into my business landlord on Saturday, and as we were talking outside the building he owns that I rent, we both appeared to be noticing the crumbling trim paint. When it comes to building maintenance, we have this weird dynamic where I source the necessary help and he pays them, then gets mad at me if he doesn’t like the bill.

You’d think at least one of us would learn, but there I was, telling him I’d check with the guy we used last time part of the building needed painting. (That part was on my dime, and we used Bryan, who does odd jobs for us — that job led to him painting my landlord’s home and a building across the street. I should have asked for a commission.)

But Bryan has a different job now, plus a gig coaching soccer, which currently means mostly drilling and him running four months of covid fat off the eight or so teen players who signed up for summer soccer.

Since he passed on the job, and I was out running shop errands, I headed down the street to get contact information for Gregg, who is a painter by vocation, and much more affordable than Gunnison’s most visible commercial company.

Gregg’s significant other owns a gallery on Main Street, and on my way there, I passed one of our two breakfast cafés. First I noticed the new red, white and blue neon “God Bless America” sign, and then I noticed the typewritten paper (this may not be a word-for-word quote, but I’m close):

“Our lovely county public health office has mandated that you must wear masks inside. People with health conditions are not required to wear masks. Due to HIPAA and the Fourth Amendment [which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, however that fits with medical information], we can’t ask you about your health condition. If you aren’t wearing a mask, we will assume you have a health condition.” Wink, wink.

The other day I watched an Arizona doctor on the news discussing a recently deceased patient who had contracted the ubervirus after attending a “covid party.” I’m not 100 percent sure what exactly one does at a covid party, although I’m guessing attendees purposefully share a lot of breathing space, laughing all the while.

This particular person, whom the doctor watched die, was near death when s/he said, “I think I made a mistake this time. I thought it was a hoax.” You could just see how this had crushed the doctor, and it would be lovely, to borrow a word, if people could figure out this isn’t a hoax long before hospitals get entangled with bedfuls of non-believers.

Last week I read two opinion pieces offered by doctors, both of them trying to encourage people to wear masks. One surgeon talked about how he wears one all day every day, and he does this not because the masks are so comfortable, but because his focus is on keeping contaminants of any sort from his patient, which could be your relative, or maybe even you.

The second spent more time objecting to the health hazard you bring upon medical personnel, including the author, by not taking basic health precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing. This really should not be about you and your civil liberties when it means people like this emergency room doctor run a high risk of disease contraction for trying to help you when your civil liberties give way to viral reality.

But it’s very hard to make people see that when the national approach seems, by the day, to become more and more a war against science. This is anti-intellectualism taken to an extreme, and at any other time if I wrote a sentence like this: “The president of the United States is listening to a game show host rather than the doctor who has advised presidents since Ronald Reagan appointed him,” it would likely strike you as a sad attempt at a joke. Who on Earth would believe crap like that?

Well, some larger percentage of Americans than you would like to think, which is even sadder. It’s one thing for an unhinged, possibly demented president surrounded by fearful sycophants to make this kind of noise, but to have people on the streets take it up as their “cause” is cause for great concern. And death. Let’s try not to forget the death this virus is bringing.

It’s been pointed out numerous times recently that mask-wearing is a cultural shift, and getting people on-board with such a shift requires time and patience. At one point, someone noted the other day, restaurants were sure they would lose lots of business if they banned smoking.

And while that might have been true in the 1950s, what restaurants didn’t realize by the time a smoking ban became probable was that they were losing business from non-smokers who didn’t care for the noxious, toxic atmosphere.

Championing freedumb from mask wearing is a short-sighted goal that may bring a certain clientele in now, but it’s also going to cost you customers who aren’t going to eat where they don’t feel safe. Some of that sense of safety probably rests in how many people around you are getting sick and perhaps dying.

Right now in Gunnison, while we’re in the blue, it probably seems a safe bet to sneer at mask requirements, even if that note, starting with “lovely county public health,” cost that restaurant all my future business, effective immediately.

If we look to the states south of us, which spent months sneering at the virus, and in many cases are still continuing to do so because no less a light than Chuck Woolery is telling us this is a hoax, we can see how quickly it all goes south.

Despite a preponderance of people in hospitals from Florida to California (and note the color shift, red to blue — this virus just doesn’t care which patriotic stripe you wear), the top-down solution right now is to belittle and sideline the scientists and medical people, which has to be extremely frustrating for people who have spent their lives dedicated to studying, learning about and fighting disease.

I don’t know why the “obvious” solution seems to be to disregard any evidence you don’t like, just because it’s the answer you like better.

The White House’s smear attack on Dr. Anthony Fauci appears to be based exclusively on the notion that he has changed his mind and made statements in opposition to what he said earlier this year. If that’s all it takes to get rid of people, well, then check out Trevor Noah’s Fox News compilation, and let’s start getting rid of the real menaces this virus has brought to the fore.


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