How seemingly innocent we all were back in March, when the Covid-19 Pandemic began spreading across the United States. We watched the news as New York, New Jersey and other states began its fight against the virus.
The March 19 edition of The Record featured the Page 1A headline “County reacts to virus threat.” The story discussed businesses, sports and governmental operations that were shutting down. Senior centers in Huntsville and Elkins were closing for normal activities. Visitors were no longer allowed at both Countryside Assisted Living and Meadowview Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Huntsville.
A few weeks later, on April 9, we reported that the Madison County Health Unit, as well as others around the state, closed because most of its employees fell in the highest at-risk category. The same edition reported that Gov. Asa Hutchinson closed schools in the state to on-site instruction.
The April 16 edition of The Record reported that Madison County had its first two cases of the novel coronavirus: A Hindsville woman who tested positive at a Springdale hospital and a resident of Meadowview.
From that week’s edition until this one, The Record has worked hard to keep you informed about how Covid-19 has affected the county. When the first positive case appeared at the local Butterball plant, that added a weekly layer to our coverage.
I was glad to see that Butterball as of last week had fewer than five cases.
As this is written, there have been more than 17 million cases of Covid-19 around the world, along with more than 667,000 deaths. The United States has seen more than 4.4 million cases, with more than 150,000 deaths.
Arkansas has seen more than 40,000 cases with more than 6,500 active. More than 400 people have died.
As this is written, Madison County had 246 total cases with just 12 active.
Still, there are some in this country who firmly believe Covid-19 is no worse than the common flu. Some governors have invoked a mask ordinance, including Hutchinson, but even that is being fought by some folks. Retail giants including Arkansas’ own Walmart finally made it mandatory that customers wear masks. There was so much backlash, however, that the retailer had to tell its employees not to have conflicts with customers who refused to wear masks.
Some very prominent Americans, including President Donald Trump, have sent mixed messages from the start of this mess. Although Trump reluctantly said Americans should wear masks to protect themselves and others, he himself has worn a mask just once or twice in public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you know, scientists, have said wearing a mask can help stop the spread of the virus.
Still some fight the mask mandates.
Herman Cain, a one-time Republican presidential candidate, died from the coronavirus last week. The 74-year-old was hospitalized earlier this month.
Cain was involved with Trump’s rally in Tulsa back on June 20. It’s unknown when and where he caught the virus, though he tested positive on June 29. He and many others involved with the rally were staunch anti-maskers. He even said Americans were “fed up” with efforts to put a mask on everyone.
Also last week, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert – a Texas Republican who was walking around the Capitol without a mask – tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gohmert was tested last Wednesday because he was scheduled to fly to Texas with Trump.
“[I]f I get it you’ll never see me without a mask,” he said in June. Oddly, however, Gohmert said he caught the virus because he has worn a mask. Seriously, he blamed the mask for causing him to catch the virus.
The White House coronavirus task force named numerous states, including Arkansas, “red zones,” states that had more than 100 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people.
All of this comes as schools are preparing to re-open for on-site instruction in a few weeks. Our eyes are more opened now, but have we learned enough?