Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The new normal in City Politics

Exactly what in tarnation just happened?

We sure went through some crazy bull honky, didn’t we peeps? Recommendations and mandates coming atcha so fast ‘n furious it was impossible to keep up. Groups of fifty, then ten, then only immediate household members. Social distancing, six feet away, without masks, then with. Oh wait, shelter in place. Which sounds like something straight outta the zombie apocalypse.

A virus that had never been known to science before, always a coupla steps ahead of that science. Does it only affect the old and infirm? Is it no worse than the flu? Or more contagious, and more deadly? It’s a respiratory disease. Oh, wow, it sometimes causes weird blood clots. And sometimes deadly inflammation in young folks.

We gotta bend the curve. But how far, and for how long? As knowledge and understanding grows, yielding sometimes conflicting results, the pandemic is ripe for the ubiquitous internet misinformation and conspiracy troll campaigns.

Is it any wonder we are all left a little winded and woozy by it all?

So here we are. The quarantine is slowly being lifted, bit by bit. Which leads to the ultimate question in City Politics. Just what the hell is going on?

Let’s break that down a bit further into two simpler questions. Where are we, as in, what are the rules for this “new normal” we’re supposedly entering? And who, if anybody, is gonna enforce those rules?

From a distance

By the time you read this, much of Ohio’s economy will be well on the way to reopening. Offices and manufacturing are back. Ditto construction. Restaurants can now serve on open patios, with in-house dining by May twenty-one. The same date that bars can open. Schools remain closed, but day-cares can reopen by the end of the month.

All this reopening comes with a whole lotta caveats, though. We are reminded that the virus is still among us, and we need to act accordingly. The state has issued a complex set of guidelines for each economic sector to keep said virus at bay. Groups in public spaces are still supposed to be limited in size. And still separated by six feet, or by physical barriers. Many employees are mandated to wear face coverings.

If these guidelines aren’t followed, the health experts tell us, we could be right back into the deep doo-doo. Meaning the formerly bended curve could straighten back out, and head straight back up.

Who is in charge of keeping us on the bent straight and narrow? Will the State of Ohio police every public and private space to make sure the guidelines are followed? Impossible. Will the county health department rise to the challenge? Fat chance. What about local governments? Nah,we’ve heard nary a peep from ’em about this new normal.

Will local establishments risk life, limb, and consumer anger by enforcing the guidelines? Yeah, no.

For the health of it

Which leaves it up to each of us. The basic guidelines are simple. Don’t congregate in large groups. Maintain six feet of space as much as possible. If you are sick, stay home. Whether you’re sick or not, wear a face covering to prevent spreading the virus to others. Wash your hands often. These are all matters of life and death. Not necessarily for you, but for those with whom you come in contact. And, frankly, maybe for you, too.

The extent to which we all take this seriously will determine whether we actually beat this damn thing. If you think we’re going back to the way it was before, think again. And if ya don’t, guess where we’ll end up?

That’s right. Deep doo-doo.

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