Gov. (Roy) Cooper recently stated that not wearing a mask is acting selfish and infringes on the life and liberty of everyone else in the store. While this is correct, he really should have gone to some of the other acts that we witness. Events continue to be held or planned in violation of the massed gathering orders. Some, such as racing of vehicles and horses, are solely for personal gain while events such as weddings and funerals are steeped in honoring people — however both can have dire consequences.
First let us look at what the governor’s orders state. Gatherings are limited to 25 people for outdoor venues and 10 for indoors. However, because of the First Amendment, peaceful marches and demonstrations can have unlimited attendance. Wedding and funeral ceremonies are exempt — note this is the ceremony only. Events leading up to and following the actual ceremony must adhere to the gathering limits. So that means if 200 people go to a wedding, with social distancing and masking being recommended, after the actual ceremony ends, many people have to leave before the reception as the only people who can remain must be within the limits stated. Obviously, this changes from a massive party to a tiny celebration of closest family and friends. Robeson County has addressed several instances where violations were to occur and have legally remedied them at the moment.
Most of these attendees are not going to get the virus, but if just one or two carry it back to the grandparents or sickly relatives, death could result. Think of the fatalities that have occurred in the long-term care settings. The patients did nothing wrong but there is nowhere to hide if someone brings the virus into the facility.
People continue to reference this whole thing is overblown. The number that should jump out is the seasonal flu resulted in three deaths last season over eight months in this county. Compare that to the 51 that have died in four months and one can see there is no comparison. Several states are strongly considering a mask-wearing requirement. If we can get the coronavirus under control we could go to 3-feet social distance, which really opens up businesses and other activities.
What would “Seinfeld” look like in these times? Kramer would have his mask on top of his head covering his ears. Costanza would refuse to wear one until a pretty girl tempts him. Elaine would have a mask with fashion flair, and of course Seinfeld would be terrified that the “Close Talker” was entering his space — it could really be rich. Unfortunately, it’s not as much fun for those fighting COVID-19, and our hope is they bounce back.
Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.