The “Home of the People Lovers” is going to kill us

I just had to make a harrowing trip to our local grocery store — harrowing, because no one wears face masks around here, I’ve seen one employee routinely wear one, and as I run my errands I see old people, middle-aged people, young people milling about, often stopping for annoying chit-chat with Ole and Lena in the aisles. I swear, when the pandemic comes swirling back into this county, the central locus for infection will be this store…and the churches. This community simply does not take the threat seriously. Except for the bubble of the university, this is also a county that went for Trump, by the way.

The headline on the Minneapolis Star Tribune right now is “Walz might mandate face masks”. Might. This is madness. The entire country was pretending that the pandemic was over, opening businesses, encouraging everyone to get out and shop and drink and celebrate, when nothing had changed, and now that the numbers are starting to rise again, there is this dull, dim glimmering that gosh, maybe we ought to do something to prevent the spread of disease. They’re going to be dilatory about it all, of course.

It’s not just Texas and Florida. We’ve got these indecisive, dishonest weasels working behind the scenes up here in Minnesota, too.

And goddamn, Willie’s SuperValu, get your act together. You’ve got a “coronavirus alert” link on your web page that hasn’t been updated since early April, and you haven’t taken a single responsible action to limit the spread of disease in your store, other than raising your prices.


  1. says

    FYI the daily case rate in Minnesota bottomed out on June 19 but it’s been rising ever since. Average was down to around 300 now it’s 400. That’s likely to accelerate. It’s a low prevalence state but presumably you’d like to keep it that way.

  2. says

    Exactly. That’s my concern — we don’t have an effective treatment, so the only thing we can do is emphasize prevention. We’re not.

  3. hemidactylus says

    Could pricing, in Hayek fashion, merely be an effective signal that problems abound upstream in food making and packing facilities and distribution networks? Shouldn’t that be a wake up call that shit will be hitting the fan soon? Could pricing not be a nefarious thing foisted by the store (they need to clear shelves so may not be jacking prices much on their end), but an indicator of larger market failure in that customers oblivious to such indicators cannot be trusted to do the right thing as they screech in Braveheart fashion for “FREEDOM!!!!” yet wear seatbelts and abide by speed limits on way home.

    Another market failure is the one on perfect information. The consumer is plugging their ears and not covering their face with a mask. The Hayekian price signal is trying to tell them something but they are not prepared to hear despite all their rhetoric about markets and such. In this one very subtle way the market is saying something.

  4. weylguy says

    Face masks have become a well-known indicator of conservative v. liberal political mindsets here in Amerika, a phenomenon that other advanced countries have avoided.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—William Tecumseh Sherman’s greatest mistake was that he didn’t reduce the South to ashes, exile its inhabitants to the South Pole, and turn it into a vast green park, and we’re now dealing with the consequences.

  5. says

    William Tecumseh Sherman’s greatest mistake was that he didn’t reduce the South to ashes, exile its inhabitants to the South Pole, and turn it into a vast green park

    Or turn it over to the people who built it. Which, they tried to do, but that was quickly mooted under “reconstruction”

  6. springa73 says

    I’m fortunate that where I live (in Massachusetts) pretty much everyone is still wearing masks in stores, because the state and local authorities and the stores themselves require them. There are some people going on about how this is an evil government plot to take away individual freedom, but I think that they are very much in the minority. On the other hand, the state is gradually letting things open up, so there may be a rebound of Covid sickness rates even with people wearing masks and trying to keep their distance.

  7. Bruce says

    Maybe now that you’re vegetarian, you can find most of what you need at Pomme de Terre? They have Beyond burgers, and can special order things for you from their wholesalers if they don’t have it. They are only open Tuesdays through Fridays, starting July 7. How long has it been since you tried them? They might not be any better with masks, but they’re probably kinder to vegetarians than the big store. It might be a safer place during pandemics.

  8. hillaryrettig says

    @8 Bruce – assuming you’re talking about a smallish health food store, those around here (Kalamazoo MI) have been fantastic with precautions. I think it’s worth preferentially supporting a business for that reason alone.

  9. wzrd1 says

    Over the past 24 hours,+23,802 positive cases have been detected. The virus is in no way contained or under control.
    We’ve been lucking out over the past week, with a lower death toll than in past months and alas, the maladministration seems willing to trust luck.
    Pennsylvania is masks are mandatory when out and about, compliance is relatively low. Some, because masks are a nuisance, to which I agree, but dying is a really big nuisance, others, well they’re Trumpites and their worshiped misleader refuses to mask, so they follow their god-king.

  10. raven says

    I swear, when the pandemic comes swirling back into this county, the central locus for infection will be this store…and the churches.

    That might well happen.
    It is happening all through the rural parts of the USA right now.

    Oregon’s biggest coronavirus outbreak yet is linked to Union … › coronavirus › 2020/06 › coron…

    Jun 16, 2020 – Union County’s COVID-19 case count is now ten times what it was on … At least 236 coronavirus cases have been linked to an outbreak at the church, which … The city of La Grande holds more than half the county’s population of 27,000 people

    Union country is in the eastern part of Oregon, the middle of nowhere.
    They had almost no cases of Covid-19.
    And then one fundie church had an outbreak of 236 people.

    Now they are up to 342 cases and one person has died. It is likely more will die in the coming weeks.
    PZ’s county in Minnesota is one church service or student house party away from a major cluster of Covid-19 cases.

  11. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Here in Lake County, IL, we need to wear a face cover when you can’t stay socially distanced, which you can’t in grocery stores. I went to two this week to restock my cupboard, which was almost bare (no one store carries all the items I purchased). Everybody, including the store workers, had on some type of face covering. Some don’t wear them well, exposing their nose while keeping their mouth covered, and a few pull the mask down to talk. On top of that social distancing is encouraged, but some folks crowd you occasionally. Not quite everything I would like to see.

  12. says

    I live in upstate (central) NY. We’re maybe 5 hours from NYC by highway and the problems here are nothing like they are or were in NYC. In spite of that, since early April I have never walked into a grocery store or essential business and not seen every person in there wearing a mask, and most wearing gloves. Heck, our mailman wears a mask and gloves, and he’s driving his route, not walking.

    Granted, if there wasn’t a directive from the governor to wear a mask, I’m sure there would be some percentage of dolts around here not wearing them. In fact, you can read the whining from some of the local conservatives about it, on the local web sites and such. It’s the usual “masks will drown you in CO2” BS. This may be NY, one of the bluest states, but out in the rural areas you’ll find more than one or two confederate flags and Trump flags.

  13. says

    @#4, weylguy:

    Yeah, I’d say that that “with malice towards none” idea turned out to be a real failure, even for the guy who came up with it, unless of course the play at Ford’s Theater was so bad that he didn’t want to see the last act. Right-wingers are always treacherous, evil liars, and always have been, and if you try to negotiate or compromise with them, you will regret it. (Note the deliberate avoidance of “you will live to regret it”, because oftentimes you don’t.)

  14. davidc1 says

    @3 I saw something on the news about potato farmers in Montana and Idaho dumping all the spuds they can’t sell .
    @7 I have got a book called “Lost White Tribes ” ,it mentioned the confederates in South America .
    Over here in GB the Pubs are set to open this coming Saturday ,won’t that be fun for the NHS ,having to deal with drunks ,and people who have been in fights .

  15. hemidactylus says

    Just returned from supermarket. Subjectively it seemed mask wearing has increased. Maybe 40-60% in store amongst customers. I think all employees were masked. Wish it was mandatory but covidiots like Duhsantis let market and ‘Merkuh bill of rights ideology Trump reality.

    Sad thing about surge in cases versus death count is the latter has a built in delay. It takes a couple weeks to die, right? So in places where the two measures seem mismatched the grim reaper will be along soon to set the scales right.

    I had read somewhere about COVID parties where youngsters want to get infected. Is that some sort of sick “OK Boomer” thing where younger folk don’t care that they are walking time bombs for those who will eventually succumb? My already jaded view is getting much worse.

    I kinda wondered if this level of callous disregard was possible. Look at the Covidiot in Chief. Yes it is.

  16. leerudolph says

    @16: “I had read somewhere about COVID parties where youngsters want to get infected.”

    So far I am filing that in the (deliberately propagated) Urban Legend category, alongside the old infamous “rainbow parties” and “gang initiation” ULs. I will continue to believe so until some really compelling evidence shows up.

  17. hemidactylus says

    @17- leerudolph

    You could be right. This cursory wikipedia article indicates similar parties with varying intentions (from defying authority to tempting fate a dare to deliberately wanting to get infected) with a European emphasis.

    I haven’t sifted the alleged reports to decide how much weight to give the phenomena.

  18. komarov says

    Re: hemidactylus (#16):

    Between the lack of effective treatment beyond life support and the long-term effects some of the infected in every age group seem to suffer, anyone trying to get infected might well end up regretting that decision. Among the daily corona news there’s always the odd story on [someone] who had serious compiications over the course of the disease and now hss to deal with the aftermath, e.g. respiratory problems among other things, which may or may not go away at some point in the future.

    To be fair, in a country which appears to be going for blithe indifference you might consider it a reasonable gamble to get the disease early* before your local hospital is overwhelmed or shut down. Boris Johnson tried that and, small justice, got a taste of his own disease, though without any permanent damage, it seems. He’s changed course since and one wonders what it would take for Trump to do the same.

    *A second gamble, namely that immunity actually lasts for a useful amount of time, of which there seems to be some doubt.

  19. says

    Cloth masks protect the other person. If everyone wears cloth masks then you are in an area where the protection is pretty good. But if everyone around you is maskless, then get an N95 mask and NOT a simple cloth mask.

    And if it says it is a non medical mask, don’t get it. Again, that mask would be fine if everyone wore a mask. But if not, you need a well fitting N95 and only a well fitting N95.
    And if any mask you use clouds up your glasses then that mask is leaking. And when you inhale, air takes the path of least resistance so a lot of air will come in thru that leak.
    So not only do we need a mask for the virus, we need to focus on what type mask to treat the stupid.

  20. hemidactylus says

    @19 komarov

    I haven’t read much on it but the serum or plasma treatments seem to have been of some benefit so antibodies could help. But I had read of some rare cases that seem to indicate people have contracted COVID twice but unclear on it that was the case or something else like not truly clearing virus or recovering before symptoms returned. Out of my league.

    Had thought being an early adopter might be preferable to being late in surge that overwhelms hospitals and if surviving the ordeal being done with the anticipatory stress. But no I really don’t want to tempt fate and battle the dragon of cytokine storm. Hope to make it through until a vaccine comes out, but uncertainty on effectiveness and length of immunity lingers. Maybe vaccine could make it milder and CIVID itself then act as a booster to increase immunity. But for how long and define “milder”. Could there be “cowpox” scenario where infection from a less dangerous coronavirus makes one better able to survive COVID?

  21. raven says

    Deliberately getting Covid 19 virus is a really bad idea.
    This virus is like polio, a few deaths, a lot of asymptomatic cases, and a lot of permanently disabled people.

    Here’s What Recovery From Covid-19 Looks Like for Many Survivors

    Continuing shortness of breath, muscle weakness, flashbacks, mental fogginess and other symptoms may plague patients for a long time.
    NYTimes By Pam Belluck July 1, 2020

    Hundreds of thousands of seriously ill coronavirus patients who survive and leave the hospital are facing a new and difficult challenge: recovery. Many are struggling to overcome a range of troubling residual symptoms, and some problems may persist for months, years or even the rest of their lives. Long article but free from NYTimes

    A huge number of survivors are disabled and that is likely for life.
    The targets are lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain.
    The data shows it is about 16% of the survivors.
    These patients will need a lot of followup and rehabilitation for months or years.

    This is showing up a lot in younger people.
    While the virus will likely kill an 80 year old, a younger person is more likely to survive with permanent organ damage.
    Over half the people in Houston hospitals are under 50 right now.

  22. hemidactylus says

    @24- robertbaden

    Gives new meaning to ‘don’t mess with Texas‘ I guess. Hey I commend Darth Cheney and Moscow Mitch or any Republican who takes a saner stance on masks. So I wish Duhsantis would take his cue from your governor however flawed he may be otherwise.

  23. hemidactylus says

    I think I’m gonna go retch:

    “Gov. Ron DeSantis would not take any responsibility for Florida’s skyrocketing coronavirus numbers Thursday, just hours after the state recorded its highest single day of new cases with more than 10,000.
    “Well, do you give credit for Florida for having much lower fatalities per 100,000 than all the states you just praised?” DeSantis told a reporter who asked about Florida and other Southern states’ case numbers compared with the Northeast.”

    Nero fiddles. OMG. Death follows the surge. Give it time bozo. Stop focusing on a snapshot in time and patting yourself on the back for a well done job. You will regret that if you are capable of such feelings. He’s personally responsible…for every death coming down the road. He broke it he owns it.

    And just behold the arrogance of this fool called out aptly by COVID survivor Cuomo:

    Florida is governed by a misfit. Yeah the alternative choice (Gillum) wound up pretty bad too (egads man, really…and I voted for him) but still. Can we recall Duhsantis as he poses a public health threat?

    Trainwreck of a state governed by Voldemort then Duhsantis #floriduh #becauseflorida #floridaman


    Oh dear

    Time for me to play chess with Caesar’s bust right about now.

  24. rrutis1 says

    Nerd @12
    I am from Lake Co IL, my mom and other family still lives right next door in McHenry. I’m glad to hear most people are wearing masks because my sister has fallen to the rwnj side and is posing on Farcebook how using a mask is an infringement of her rights and rebreathing CO2 is the most dangerous thing ever!

    Jimf @13
    I currently live in Utica and work in Syracuse. I see a few people every day not wearing masks where they should be, but then again Utica is known for steamed hams and stubborness.

    Funny how 2 comments in a blog can tie strangers together across half a country.

  25. says

    Had to go grocery shopping today after a medical appointment. The only social distancing I saw was between the Kens/Karens and their brains — which had obviously been left at home as irrelevant.

  26. psanity says

    I can offer a bit of marginally scientific anecdotal evidence about CO2 and masks, if it comes in useful. I have been wearing a well-fitting, 3-layer cloth mask full-time for several days, because my daughter is here, having driven across three states for a family emergency. Per the local Health department’s assistance, she has isolated for two days before being tested for Covid-19, and continues to isolate until we get the results – this is to protect me, since I am high-risk. I use an oximeter several times a day, and my blood oxygen level is perfectly normal, even when I feel like it’s not. So there.

    People can be such whiny-ass idiot jerks.

  27. hemidactylus says

    @29- psanity

    If you could forgive my snowflake whining wearing a mask all day sucks. Upon reopening I donned mask and face shield and that really sucked. I now wear mask and safety glasses all day every day. Gotten used to it. Later in day I am so over it. But continue still. Did I say it sucks. Steamy. Guess I don’t have halitosis. Fogged my face shield and sometimes safety glasses.

    BTW are hypoxia and hypercapnia same thing? I feel something at end of day and have equivalent of afterimage for mask and eyewear at end of day. Shower routine with 20 second OCD handwash rituals normalized now. So over it. But will continue consistently. Actually gotten used to weirdness and end of day creeping stifle.

    My dad had COPD/emphysema. I better understand that feeling now, especially after trying the coffee filter thing I gave up. And I cannot see him wearing a mask given his struggle with basic breathing.

    But preferable to struggling with COVID symptoms.

    Oh and weird fact. My oral temp fluctuates from high 97s early morning to mid 99s. Latter mid-afternoon spike freaked me out a couple times. Accepted death first time it happened. Scary space to be in really. Not ruling out that feverish spike that tells me I am on downward spiral. Might happen anytime now.

  28. Kevin Karplus says

    At only 3 cases and no deaths in Stevens County, the pandemic is not real to them—and there isn’t a lot of point being careful when community transmission is so low. The county will get hit hard, though, when students arrive in the fall from areas with higher case rates.

    Here in Santa Cruz, I’m not looking forward to July 4 weekend, as we have one of the only beaches open within about 100 miles. The beach had been closed 11am to 5pm, to keep down the number of tourists, but enforcement turned out to be almost impossible, so the ban was lifted. Locals are recommended to stay away from the beaches if they don’t want to get sick—the tourists are certainly going to bring in a lot of virus.

  29. Nes says


    Oh and weird fact. My oral temp fluctuates from high 97s early morning to mid 99s. Latter mid-afternoon spike freaked me out a couple times.

    I’m not a doctor, this is not medical advice, etc., but I don’t think there’s anything to worry about here, as this looks perfectly normal to me. Your body temp fluctuates during the day, more or less following your circadian rhythm, with the lowest temp usually occurring a couple of hours before you wake up and the highest temp usually occurring in the late afternoon (assuming that you follow a more or less typical schedule; otherwise, roughly 10 hours after your normal wake up time). 98.6F +/-1F is probably fine.

    Now, if you’re in the mid 99s shortly after waking up, or break 100, then you might want to worry a bit :-)

  30. hemidactylus says

    Just finished Quinn’s Ishmael inspired by:

    Are we merely doing the evolution. Oddly enough Quinn seems against Bulldog take on evolutionary ethics and fuck that. Huxley made sense.

  31. says

    @27 rrutis1

    We could be neighbors. I don’t get the “steamed ham” reference, though. What Utica is famous for is Utica Greens, tomato pie, half-moon cookies (not the same as “black & white” cookies, folks), Saranac beer and the Boilermaker 15k road race (which, for the first time since its founding in 1978 will not be run, although there will be a “virtual” race. I guess the nearly 20,000 runners plus friends and family packed together at the post race party could be seen as “somewhat problematic” these days).

    I would also say that some areas surrounding Utica are known for their stubborn conservatism (hence, traitor flags).

  32. R. L. Foster says

    It’s just the opposite here in Williamsburg, Virginia. People are taking this very seriously. When I venture out to the supermarkets and hardware stores I’ve been seeing near universal mask compliance. According to the Johns Hopkins Covid website there have been 6 fatalities in town and another 15 in the surrounding county. Any death from this virus is bad, but compared to other states and counties I’ll take those numbers. Of course we have a sane Democratic governor who is also a physician and his approach throughout this crisis has been scientifically sound. The fear now is that Virginia does not exist in isolation. The academic year is fast approaching and we’re all waiting anxiously for the arrival of the students in August, a quarter of whom are out-of-staters.

  33. KG says

    Over here in GB the Pubs are set to open this coming Saturday – davidc1@15

    Not in Scotland or Wales. In Scotland outdoor cafes and beer gardens can open on 6th, pubs I think on 15th.

  34. captainjack says

    I’m in the liberal bastion of Denver, Colorado, so most customers are wearing masks inside the stores I go to here, but there is some variation. Employees are all required to comply, though there’s some variation with them, too. The best compliance overall is Trader Joe’s. The worst is Home Depot. I’ve taken to insulting the most obvious bare-faced Trumpkins, who are almost always white men. (I think a lot of their resistance is racist.) It’s a balance between feeding their aggrieved entitlement and showing social disapproval. Some get belligerent but walking away usually shuts that down.

  35. wzrd1 says

    Here is Snopes taking up the Alabama student COVID-19 parties.
    Verified by the health department.

    In one state, the health department had trouble with people not wanting to answer during contact tracing and resorted to subpoena to get it, with a $2000/day fine for noncompliance. The stubborn promptly answered when they received their subpoena.

    Here in Pennsyltucky, I’m seeing 2/3 of the folks in the convenience store without a mask on, despite prominent signage from the company itself requiring it. When I mentioned it in Twitter, the company says that they cannot enforce anything on their property, which is distilled bullshit. Property rights are quite strong in PA, they just want to make their money without angering casual customers and giving lip service to the orders of the governor.
    A governor that the GOP is trying to make noises of impeachment for “exceeding his authority” in the epidemic, not realizing that Commonwealth code supports the governor. More likely,they do realize that, but pandering to Trump’s base is cheap.
    50000 per day are now infected, but Trump wants a crowd and fireworks at Mount Rushmore. Maybe we’ll be lucky and a forest fire will weaken the “sculptures”…

  36. says

    @#40, wzrd1:

    Maybe we’ll be lucky and a forest fire will weaken the “sculptures”…

    The Lakota Sioux, whose sacred site Mount Rushmore was before we decided to take it and deface it (no pun intended), is pretty solidly against any further destruction, although they would like the site back.

  37. KG says

    Face coverings are to be compulsory in shops in Scotland, although only from 10th, and weakly, retail staff will not be expected to enforce the rule. Currently, only a minority (of customers and staff) wear them.