‘There’s a lot of stupid floating around’

I wasn’t planning on writing about the coronavirus pandemic anymore, unless there seemed to be an urgent need for it.

After hearing the latest reports, it’s clear to me that there is.

Most people around Pickens County seem to be taking the attitude that, well, we did the shutdown, so we took care of the problem and now we need to go back to the way things used to be.

Unfortunately, things, as I write this, are worse than they have ever been, even before the shutdown.

In fact, South Carolina is one of three states that some experts say needs to go back into shutdown mode, or else it’s going to get completely out of hand.

Look at these facts: At the time of this writing — which, admittedly, was last Thursday to meet an early deadline for the holiday weekend — Pickens County has had 893 cases of COVID-19 confirmed. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control estimates that 5,486 people have actually been infected with the virus.

That’s more than the population of the city of Pickens. Or Liberty. Or Central.

What’s most troubling, though, is the rate at which this thing is spreading. Only Arizona and Florida have had a sharper spike, according to an analysis done by the Harvard Global Health Institute. They based their findings on the number of new cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day moving average.

South Carolina had 27.7 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people as I write this. That’s more than twice the rate of murder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you go to, you can see a lovely multi-colored map of the United States, with each county colored green, yellow, orange or red — from safest to most dangerous risk of catching the disease.

Large swaths of the country are yellow. New York City, which had a rough time of it a couple months ago and took very serious measures to control it, is yellow. All of South Carolina is either orange or red. Pickens, with 24 new cases per 100,000 people, just barely makes it into the orange. Greenville is in the red, with 28.5.

Now, I don’t want to go back into shutdown mode, and I don’t think we’ll have to if everybody would just do their part. Gov. Henry McMaster is loathe to put out any orders requiring people to wear masks or to start closing businesses down again, because he’s counting on South Carolinians to do the right thing.

I’m not sure his belief that South Carolinians will do the right thing is well founded, however, considering — well, reality.

There are too many pundits out there who are doing all they can to convince their believers that this is still being overblown by the news media and that wearing a mask means you’re a “sheep” following the dictates of a bunch of people who want to control your life.

Those who listen to these pundits and repeat what they’ve learned from them while closing their minds to other sources of information somehow don’t see themselves as sheep.

“There’s a lot of stupid floating around out there,” our governor has said.

I heard one United States senator say that the medical experts don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about, and everybody should just make their own decision about whether to wear a mask or not. America was founded on individuals making their own decisions about whether to believe science, he seemed to be saying. Remarkably, this senator is a doctor.

Perhaps the Earth really is flat and we never sent a man to the moon.

Remember this before you decide to go strutting around in Walmart with no mask — it’s not you who these masks are primarily designed to protect. It’s your neighbor. I think you should love your neighbor, even if it makes you feel foolish.

Not wearing a mask is like driving drunk. You might survive, but you might kill somebody else.

Well, I’m trying to do my part by staying home most of the time, and when I do go out, I wear a mask. And when I get back, I wash my hands and sing a verse of “Jailhouse Rock” to make sure I get the full 20 seconds in. And I try to stay at least six feet away from everybody — except my darling wife.

It’s hard staying away from my grandkids, except for visits out in the front yard at a distance, and from even visiting my mom. But it’s what we’ve got to do, for now.

Some of you may think you’ll be in the lucky majority who can survive the infection. Some of you who think that are going to be mistaken. It’s already happened too many times that people who were radical about ignoring the warnings have ended up succumbing to the disease.

It’s going to be impossible to avoid all possibility of catching it. But there’s a lot we can do to keep from letting it run wild. Please, please follow the basic guidelines so we can move Pickens County into the yellow zone, at least.