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Disaster hangover

Tim Croft

Have you felt it yet?

Are you feeling it now?

Will we ever recover?

I am quite sure that this corner of space in this tiny newspaper is hardly alone in pondering such questions.

Times before Oct. 10, 2018 seem like such a quaint memories of lollipops, unicorns and rainbows.

First, catastrophic hurricane followed by a pandemic.

Not exactly the double-decker sold at McDonald’s.

And I am also quite sure I am not the only person in this county of, cough, cough, 16,000 that is beginning to think they have come down with a permanent emotional hangover.

That no orange juice or coffee, taste of the dog or whatever is proper for the drinking hangover will remedy.

It is written all over the faces of county officials, from the school board to the Board of County Commissioners as well as folks on the streets.

There is more Samsonite under eyes, more smiles that feel forced to the individual forcing it, less “how you doing” because everybody is doing about the same.

Hanging on.

County commissioners even devoted a portion of their regular monthly meeting Tuesday to a presentation, complete with video, about why things must get back to normal.

When we start comparing deaths from COVID-19 to deaths due to abortions during the same time, we have arrived at hangover time.

When a video presentation about re-opening the country is part of a county commission meeting, it is hangover time.

Contributing to the sense of feeling harried is this ongoing debate about face masks.

Would it be possible, just for a few minutes, to consider not the nonsense on social media but what public health officials, the CDC, are saying?

This seems like a non-debate.

Instead the issue regarding face masks has been twisted tighter than a Twizzler with none of the satisfaction.

According to the CDC, wearing face masks provides protection from spreading the virus.

And early studies indicated that had the world donned masks at the same time, we might already be out of this mess.

Public health officials, from the federal to local level, encourage the wearing of face masks.

As one local physician, when asked their opinion, said, “It couldn’t hurt.”

But somehow a public health issue has been turned into another front line in the partisan battle that divides this country.

Nobody loves wearing a mask, they are not comfortable and they are not remotely enjoyable in July Florida heat and humidity.

And, yes, the lives, the positive COVID-19 cases, one could be preventing are not of those wearing the mask.

There is a bit of selfishness in refusing to wear a mask; it is not a constitutional right as some espouse, it is common humanity during a pandemic that has killed nearly 150,000 Americans.

Nonetheless, there are those who will stand in public forums, express their own expertise in the matter and weigh in on the relative ineffectiveness of wearing a mask.

Without a medical degree.

That is just not responsible.

And, in practice, local officials are not precisely performing that “leading by example” thing so well.

Two government meetings this week.

During one, two masks were observed and social distancing treated as a mere suggestion.

The other, not a mask was in sight other than Hinds and a department staff member with her though there was some distancing.

Port St. Joe commissioners meet for the first time since their emergency declaration requiring face masks Tuesday, so we shall see.

And the point isn’t to embarrass, but only to note that it is tad difficult to convince people, or children, to wear masks if those in charge take the requirement as, well, not a requirement.

Barely a thought, in fact.

Let us pause here for a word of praise for Hinds and her staff: a Category 5 hurricane followed by a pandemic; what that department has accomplished should make all county residents proud.

And those kind of folks, and there are so many in this community, provide sustenance and the hope that all of this one day will pass, masks or not.

Until then, however, anybody with a foolproof remedy for an emotional hangover?

Right now, there is a gold mine to be made.