It’s been 75 years since the combined efforts of our armed forces, our allies and millions of civilians brought an end to World War II following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9. As indicated on the front page of this week’s print edition and in our “Scrapbook’ feature on pages 4 and 5 of that same edition, during World War II, workers at the Decatur plant of the Houdaille-Hershey Corporation played an important role in the building of the atomic bomb.
There was something special about Americans 75 years ago, as everybody pulled together, whether overseas or back home, in the effort to win the war. For people my age, they were our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, who were united in defense of our nation, helped each other out and supported our nation’s war effort with patriotic fervor. Do we still have that “can do” spirit in our battle against a terrible, invisible enemy that lurks all around us, ready to infect and even kill, anyone regardless of race, gender, age or social status?
Unfortunately, there is a division in our nation that is hampering our efforts to win the battle against COVID-19 that has already killed tens of thousands of Americans and given permanent health issues to many more. We continue in a defensive mode where prevention of the spread of the disease is our only option, until a cure is found.
The best possible defensive position is recommended by nearly all medical and scientific experts, plus our community leaders, and it is a simple formula: social distancing yourself from others, wear a mask when you are around others and wash your hands frequently. Abiding by these three simple prevention steps doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to never be infected with COVID-19, or pass it along to others, but it is a formula that reduces the likelihood of becoming infected, or passing the virus on to other people.
I’m amazed that we still have a substantial number of people who will not abide by the defensive formula because no one is going to tell them what to do. There is no question, this attitude will lead to more infections, permanent health problems for those who are infected and survive and, even death — not to mention economic disaster for many businesses and agencies.
We are a better people than to allow others to be hurt by careless dismissal of the problem and a refusal to follow any prevention guidelines, or, make something so horrible into something political. Buried deep in this nation’s heart is that “can do” spirit that has brought us through some rough times in our past and can get us through this bad time.
• MORE and more people I know are being impacted by the reality that family members and friends are testing positive for COVID-19. For some reason, “fraud”, “fake” and “politics” are words that seem to have disappeared from their vocabulary.
• AS I related on Byers & Co. last week, a business woman I know told me that she stopped at a convenience store to pick up an item and the store had a sign posted that a mask was required to shop inside. This woman and the cashier were the only two people in the store who were wearing a mask. When she asked the cashier “I thought everyone was suppose to wear a mask in this store?”, an unmasked male shopper standing within a few feet of her replied: “Mind your own business!” “I wasn’t even talking to him,” she told me, “but I didn’t say any more.”
• COVID-19 has certainly brought out the best in people — and also the worst. I am inspired by all the unselfish acts of caring about others that I see and read about, even to the point of risking their own lives, and even dying, in trying to keep others alive. That’s America at its best.
• OUR MACON County State’s Attorney Jay Scott and the Better Business Bureau have been warning residents about all of the phone and internet scams that are taking place. I’ve written, in part, in my Viewpoint column this week, about my experience with a Social Security scam call I received. Be careful, anyone who receives a call from someone who claims to be from Social Security, the Internal Revenue Service or other such agencies, is bound to be a little concerned because most people are honest and certainly don’t want any trouble from any of those agencies. The dishonest make a lot of money fleecing honest people, who want to do the right thing. That’s a virus of another kind.
• PLEASE do all you can to protect yourself and others from the virus. As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Right now, the “ounce of prevention” is our best weapon against COVID-19 since there is no cure.
• IT’S OFFICIAL — The Decatur City Council voted to officially adopt ordinances related to a recent COVID Emergency order. They are now part of the city code. There are two ordinances because one was for bars and restaurants that serve liquor and the other for those restaurants that don’t serve liquor. Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe issued an emergency order last week that contained the power to revoke the liquor licenses of bars and restaurants not following health guidelines. Monday evening, the city council voted 4-2 to adopt the guidelines and make them city ordinances.
Councilmembers Lisa Gregory and Bill Faber voted against the ordinances because they, essentially, felt that what was already in place was enough and they would hurt local businesses.
Included in the health guidelines: • A minimum of six feet between tables, bar seating or other designated patron service areas. • No more than 10 people in a party shall be permitted at a table. • Standing area capacity may operate at maximum of 25% of standing area capacity • Employees shall wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while on premises within six feet of others. • Patrons and visitors should wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while on premises, including while waiting for a table, standing in line to order, pick-up or checkout, while ordering all other times, except while eating and drinking at a table. • People should not congregate on licensed premises in a number greater than allowed by guidelines set forth in Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity guidelines.
The emergency order allows Decatur leaders to pull a liquor license from a business if it fails to follow Phase 4 guidelines in the state’s “Restore Illinois” plan.
The message is clear, or should be: “Take the pandemic seriously” because the City of Decatur leaders are taking it seriously and have the power to close down your business for failing to follow the guidelines. There is no question that some businesses have not been following the guidelines and, if this doesn’t get their attention, I’m not sure anything will.
• ANOTHER? Former Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman sent me an email this week about my comments regarding the race for the Illinois House in the 96th District (which includes most of Decatur) between incumbent Sue Scherer (D) and Charlie McGorray (R). Cahnman wrote that it was more than a race between Scherer and McGorray as “Green Party candidate John Keating is also running. While his petitions were challenged, he is still on the ballot as of now.”
• RESIGNATION CALL — State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) is calling for Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan to resign. (See article elsewhere on this site.) Two weeks ago ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine for a pay-to-play scheme that involved Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. Caulkins joins many other lawmakers calling for Madigan to leave office.
Madigan says he won’t go. Will he go? I will believe it when I see it.
• MAIL DELAYS — According to the AP, “The House Oversight Committee has invited the new postmaster general to appear at a September hearing to examine operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service that are causing delays in mail deliveries across the country.
“The plan imposed by Louis DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser who took over the top job at the Postal Service in June, eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and orders that mail be kept until the next day if postal distribution centers are running late.”
I wrote about those mail delays in last week’s “Viewpoint” column and what impact they are having on newspaper and magazine publishers, not to mention deliveries of medicines, etc., that are critically needed by many Americans.
Of course, it is also a nightmare for me in wondering if the Decatur Tribunes are going to reach our subscribers on the usual day after we always mail them out on mid-day each Wednesday. So far, we’ve had a few complaints from subscribers about not receiving a certain week’s edition at the usual time, but, considering how many thousands we mail out each week, it’s a relatively small number.
However, I want everyone to receive the Tribune each week in a timely fashion. When we work hard to meet our publishing deadline each week and deliver (plus prepay postage) our bundled and sacked newspapers to the USPS on time, it is very frustrating for me for it to be delayed for any reason — unless it is the pandemic that slows it, which is somewhat understandable.
I don’t think I have to explain that, when the present volume of mail across the country is not now being handled in rapid fashion, I don’t have any confidence in any plan for mail-in voting to take place.!
• NOT CERTAIN — Even after our offices have been closed to the public for the past 20 weeks, I’m not exactly sure when our newspaper office will open up so the public and staff will be able to return as before the pandemic.. Although we have published and mailed the Tribune every Wednesday since the pandemic began, as you might imagine, it hasn’t been easy just as it has been difficult for most businesses to operate.
I certainly want to keep staff and the public safe, but with the rising COVID-19 infection numbers in our county and state it is difficult to know when our office will reopen to the public. Thanks so much for your patience and support during this difficult period. Your understanding and help are appreciated and I’ll keep publishing the Trib this way for as long as it takes.