I don’t believe any of us imagined a year ago how different Decatur and Macon County would look and feel in 2020 — along with our nation. Here we are, nearly half-way through our summer and the focus of daily attention is on the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the debate over wearing masks, tearing down historic statues, landmarks and names, economic distress, Black Lives Matter marches — and defunding police departments. Plus, we have a presidential campaign that has become so toxic I’m surprised that it doesn’t kill off the coronavirus!
The nerves of many are frayed and intolerance for the opinions of others seems to be at an all-time high! In all of my years of being a businessman in Decatur and editor and publisher of this newspaper, I’ve never seen anything like it — and it is not nearly as tumultuous and stressful in our area as in other communities across the nation. We are fortunate that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Macon County has remained low, compared to outbreaks in other parts of the nation. That has not happened by accident but with the effort of many to practice safe routines and habits during the pandemic.
We are also fortunate that community leaders have been working together for years to foster better relationships with all residents who want to work together for a better Decatur. I believe any effort to defund our police department, or alter our local government’s basic formation, will fail. We have our shortcomings, the same as any other community, but those shortcomings are being addressed, and will continue to be addressed as we move forward.
• WITH the number of COVID-19 cases setting record highs in other parts of the nation on a daily basis, it is evident that the pandemic is a long way from being over. The need to wear a mask when around other people, social distancing and practicing good hygiene is still necessary because the infection rate in this community could spike almost overnight and we would be back to where we were at the beginning of the pandemic. That would be disasterous in terms of human illness, life and economic loss!
A reader let me know that she was in a business the other day that had a big sign posted that indicated people should not come inside the store if they were not wearing a mask. She said about a third of the people she saw were not wearing a mask and, apparently, nothing was done about it.
I believe that several stores that have the mask sign are not enforcing it and still let people shop without any face covering. Kroger in South Shores was pretty firm a few weeks ago that anyone going into their store should wear a mask as I mentioned in an earlier column, but, like some other stores they are letting people shop without a face covering. I believe most stores’ management fear losing shoppers, bad public relations and physical confrontations and that’s the reason employees are often told not to confront anyone without a mask, which about makes the “must wear a mask” sign ineffective. Some people just don’t like anyone telling them what to do.
Of course, some people still believe the coronavirus pandemic is just a big political hoax which is totally counter to what’s happening in our nation and around the world.
• I DON’T think there was any shortage of fireworks in Decatur over the Independence Day weekend, even though the annual fireworks show over Lake Decatur was cancelled because of the pandemic. I heard privately-bought, and set-off, fireworks going off for several days before July 4th, on July 4th and after July 4th — some after midnight!!! Maybe that was those residents’ way of letting off a lot of steam and pent-up frustration!
• SOMEONE broke out windows in the Transfer House, The Salvation Army Building and the Decatur Civic Center Saturday evening. What was all of that about? As I’m writing this column the person or persons have not been caught.
• GOOD NEWS: Our Sports Editor J. Thomas McNamara writes about some really “good news” on page 10 of this week’s print edition: — “prep football has been cleared to begin 20 days of contact Monday.”
That’s a good sign that schools, football teams and some semblance of “normal” is starting to return. For many years, the word “normal” in any way it was used, depicted “boring”, but it will never be looked on that way again. “Normal” is an exciting word, even if the old “normal” will never return.
• FINAL THOUGHT –Demonstrators who are expressing legitimate concerns about injustices in their nation have been hijacked by those who have no connection to what they advocate — and that’s the reason more and more people are turning a deaf ear to their “demands” and are sick and tired of the violence.
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Paul Osborne discusses the issues of the day with Brian Byers every Thursday morning at 7:00 on Byers & Co. on WSOY.