A report from the America down-under

March 6, 2012


I hope you will take what follows as an attempted report of facts and not my opinion. It is a personal statement, to some degree, because the reporting is not comprehensive or verified. Please think of it as an observation. I was born and raised in the American south. I have worked and lived in several southern states since graduation and have never lived outside the region, to my admitted ambivalence. I love to get out of the south whenever I can, to visit other regions, other countries. I wish I had discovered the pleasures of travel at a much younger age than I did. However, for myriad personal reasons, the south remains home. And it is a bit saddening when someone on television implies the people of the south have their heads in the sand when it comes to COVID-19 and are thereby endangering the nation as a whole. I don’t believe that to be true. In my hometown, the bars and cafes have been closed for weeks. Parks are closed. Festivals have been postponed, and most citizens have chosen, upon encouragement of local authorities, to self-isolate out of a dual sense of obligation and self-preservation. The local hospital, a first-class regional facility where a member of my family works, has even asked citizens not to attend church. Five people, by the way, died at that same hospital from the virus in a 48-hour period. I have a neighbor who is a respiratory therapist. He has a young family and slouches home every evening well past dark. I know that many cities and large towns in the south are experiencing similar circumstances. My point is, this region does take this crisis seriously and is approaching it much like any other. OK, this is the spongy part. It is no secret the south is a deep “red” region. I think it is safe to say, a lot of state officials have taken their cue from Washington and have been attempting an optimum balance of epidemiology and economics, a pinpoint which can only be guessed at from our present perspective; state officials undeniably prefer words such as “directive” and “guidelines” to words like “order.” I think this reaction at the top has been the focus of some outside the region. Like the nation, a lot of what is happening in the south has emerged at local and county levels, and it is not insignificant. I just want to reassure others. We got this. As much as anyone does.   


30 thoughts on “A report from the America down-under”

  1. I posted this on the Saturday blog post:

    Something that I wondered about last week is happening in comics today. The first couple of strips that I have looked at today (A&J first) have addressed the COVID-19 virus and quarentine.

    I doubt if Popeye will address it…..

    In regards to the South, they have historically received bad press. The truth is that stupidity knows no boundaries. Some really smart and accomplished people are just plain dumb, while some folks were just born a bit ignorant. I love many who hail from the South. They enjoy simple values that include giving you the shirt off their back even if it has holes in it. We stand with you Jimmy. God Bless you and stay safe.

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    • Todays A&J was the first I’ve noticed to mention the virus. I was wondering if the artists were purposely avoiding the subject. Of course, those of us that still read it in print too, see different selections of cartoons.

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  2. We no longer have Walter Cronkite to tell us the truth every evening. As such, we must all realize that what is presented as “news”, from any source, should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Hugs to our southern friends. Y’all got this.

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    • @Otis – Agreed about so-called “news.” I live in one of those big coastal cities that supposedly looks down its nose at the South, all hoity-toity like, if you believe what certain networks say. You will hear the same story from national politicians seeking campaign contributions. It’s nonsense. The truth is that our cities, even the supposedly élitist ones on the coasts, are full of people from all over the nation. I’m from Pennsylvania and I live with a Georgia Peach, and our loved ones are all over as well.

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  3. I live in Washington state. My wife is a nurse. Our prayer is that she doesn’t bring it home to us, as they are low on adequate protection.

    We were staying home about a week ahead of everyone else, washing our hands and “handitizing” like crazy. The week after the stay at home rule went into effect the weather was really nice here(it’s usually cold and raining) Crowds of people were out along the river.

    Our store shelves were barren after everyone in the county went to the store at the same exact time to hoard. We stayed home.

    My point is no matter where you live some people understand, you have to act like you have it and don’t want to spread it to your loved ones, and some people don’t.

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  4. JJ-Just to show there’s bad decisions everywhere – Back when this was just getting started the bars and restaurants here in Boston were going to close except for take out on March 17 -St. Patrick’s day. So many of the good young folks jammed the bars on March 16. Well the word got back to the mayor and shut the down ASAP. God Bless us all!!

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  5. Blessings and be careful, all. At “75+”, I’m housebound. I miss people. My volunteer station got closed; later, “they” decided to lay off [not dismiss] all volunteers. That won’t make the jobs of working staff any easier, but may stem the rate of spread. Just in case you thought “Luann” was behind the times, here’s the latest from her college dorm.
    https://www.gocomics.com/luann/2020/03/30
    Peace,

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  6. Well said. It is interesting to look at the data on age groups. Nashville currently has 443 confirmed cases and Tennessee has 1,884 confirmed cases. In Tennessee there are 380 cases in the age group 21-30, and the numbers go down as the age groups go up. Looking back on my lack of interest in news when I was 21-30 (years ago, long before the internet) it makes me wonder. I probably would have ignored the warnings at that time in my life. Joe d, Nashville has become a go to city for tourists, and the mayor had to close all the bars restaurants and clubs. Lower Broadway remained packed as news became more dire and I have to believe it was the younger uninformed/invincible crowd. Everyone stay safe.

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  7. I grew up in Chicago live in Nashville. I always tell my students prejudice is not only present in the south. Also to your point, there are stubborn people everywhere. What I do think is different from the north to south is the sense of community and taking care of your neighbor. Stay well everyone!

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  8. I don’t know what is going on in Mississippi, where you are, Mr. Johnston, but Governor Lee of Tennessee has responded very inadequately to the Covid-19 crisis. As a result, cases & fatalities are increasing greatly. Here in Nashville, the mayor has responded much better. Our cases are still rising, of course, but counties with much less population are seeing greater increases.

    This is a time for mandates, not just suggestions, and for realistic and full information, not Trump’s idiotic speculation, misinformation, and baseless predictions.

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    • Perhaps I was too diplomatic. It was not my intent to defend the response of top officials. It was my intent to praise the efforts of those who are trying to get it right, whether local in origin or not. We’d be in a much bigger mess without them.

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      • The local officials have been doing most of the work in Texas, too. The state-level officials seem to be focused on currying favor nationally– leading to things like Lt Gov Dan Patrick encouraging (my paraphrase) seniors to be willing to die for the economy. Local mayors and county officials have been working much harder to protect, serve, and defend their constituents. After all, it is the local structure that has to do most of the cleanup from any potential disaster.

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  9. At last report (that I’ve seen, anyway), the Mayor of New York City (not exactly a bastion of the “South”) still hadn’t closed down the city’s parks. This, by the way, was the same Mayor that was telling his constituents that “we wanted people to go on about their lives” (in other words, business as usual) as late as March 13th.
    So, no, it’s not just a regional issue.

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  10. I’m really starting to worry about the overall situation. It sounds as if the fear and sadness have only just begun. God bless us, everyone.

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  11. While I’ve lived in several states in the South and elsewhere, I’ve always lived in “flyover country” surrounded by “deplorables.” I found a site that allows us to view, by state, COVID-19 cases, deaths, and changes over time. The only thing lacking is the total population by state and the resulting per capita infections and deaths. Are any Villagers willing to do the research and tell us how we’re really behaving relative to the virus?
     
    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

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  12. Just read an article about police reporting a marked increase of drivers being ticketed for driving at 100+ in 65 MPH speed zones, even with much less traffic on the highways. In Oklahoma, I believe they call that Tuesday. 🙂

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    • “Dr. Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College London reiterated Friday that his figure for potentially more than 500,000 deaths from the virus in the U.K. is unchanged, although that figure is tied to a nightmare scenario in which no mitigation steps are taken against the virus’ spread.
      Given the virus-aversion policies that have been adopted, Mr. Ferguson told Parliament the actual death figures for the U.K. would most likely be less than 20,000, and said that is consistent with previous studies.”
       
      In other words the data in his projection was sensationalized by the media choosing to only report the worst case situation.
        
      https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/28/british-epidemiologist-colleagues-insist-coronavir/

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  13. Success has many Fathers, Failure is an Orphan. Who would have thought that 2 months ago that the US economy would voluntarily shutdown? Regardless of politics, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have done an admirable job. We are fortunate that this did not start to happen 3 months ago during the Christmas season. It is unfortunate that it started in Red China as I find it hard to believe that they have/had less cases than the US or Italy. Granted they live in a society that is used to these type of restrictions, but so much of it is third world in nature.

    My son had some aches and fever last week and his wife has a fever of 102° today. Praying that IF she has it, that it will be a mild case and that our 4 year old Grandson does not get it at all. They came out to the park and waved at me during my Marathon on Sunday. However they kept a very safe distance away.

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  14. I have heard many women who loved Janis’ reaction in today’s strip. Personally I now only shave once a week. While many of the heroes on the Hallmark Channel and the Romance Novels like my wife writes have that “stubble”. My wife does not think that it is sexy at all. I think my record was 3-4 weeks and that was because I was on blood thinners after my operation. My attempts at growing a beard is pathetic anyway.

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