A week from this coming Saturday is Christmas Day — a time when families gather to share a meal, presents, a lot of conversation… and love. Family gatherings have been tough to plan since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic because of fear of infection by the virus — an unwelcome visitor at some traditional events.
As I’m writing this column there is a surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Macon County bringing with it uncertainty in again planning family gatherings for the holiday. Many people have grown weary of practicing COVID-19 prevention tactics such as wearing a mask, social distancing and being encouraged to get vaccinated — and that’s the main reason COVID-19 infection numbers are heading in the wrong direction. Hopefully, those infection numbers will be going down this week and traditional family gatherings can once again be full of love and togetherness without being overly concerned about the virus.
We live in a nation, and world, beset by political division and uncertainty and the celebration of the birth of the “Prince of Peace” reminds us that the greatest gift of all is the answer to a troubled world. I see light at the end of the “virus tunnel”.
• PRICES are going up about everywhere! Last week I was told that the “Dollar Tree” stores are now charging $1.25 instead of $1.00 on their items. I wonder if the stores will have to change their name to “Dollar Twenty-Five Tree”? That doesn’t have quite the same impact, does it?
• I DON’T understand how unemployment figures for Illinois keep going down when there are so many businesses in Decatur that are begging for applicants to fill jobs. An abundance of unfilled jobs across the state is shocking a lot of people — yet the statistics we are fed show that less people in Illinois are unemployed these days. That’s a head scratcher — along with a lot of other statistics we read about. I’ve never seen so many “help wanted’ signs in the windows of local businesses.
• STATISTICS that show how many (or few) people are wearing a mask to protect themselves and others from contracting COVID-19 don’t show how many people are wearing the masks properly. It seems to me that a mask worn on the chin, or left dangling around a person’s neck, has the same protection as not wearing a mask at all! Is there any other article that a person “wears” that needs instruction on how to wear it properly?
Does new underwear come with instructions as to where it should be worn? Does a new pair of gloves come with instructions that point out the pair should not be worn on feet, but on hands? I’ve never bought a bra (obviously) but I assume it doesn’t come with instructions about where on the body it should be worn. Why then, in the realm of common sense, do so many people not know how a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should be worn? How many bank robbers who wear a mask to hide their identity, just wear it over their chin?
The interesting aspect to “mask wearing” is that we’ve printed public service ads (along with other media) in this newspaper to show “the proper way to wear a mask” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I think people who wear the mask improperly know the right way it should be worn — but they are just not going to wear it that way because it is “inconvenient” to do so.
• THE Decatur Park District owns and controls Nelson Park. The City of Decatur owns Lake Decatur. That’s made for some interesting and confusing conversations over the years and some debate over how much the City should be financially responsible for the replacement of roads, etc in the park and what should be paid for by the Park District. Although it was a point of some contention years ago, today the City and Park District have a good working relationship and that is a benefit to the whole community. There are several taxing bodies in Decatur and Macon County and it is of great benefit to the taxpayers when all are on the same page and working for the betterment of the area through the most efficient use of funds available. •
I JOIN Brian Byers for the “City Hall Insider” on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00. I always enjoy our conversations about the people and issues that are making the news in our community and beyond.