Dick Tracy: Getting back to ‘square one’ | TheUnion.com

Dick Tracy: Getting back to ‘square one’

Like you, I yearn for our nation to go back the way it was before the COVID pandemic.

Recent announcements by vaccine developers are heartening, but there are many unanswered questions about application, including: “How long will they last?” and “Are there side effects?”

A surprising number of Americans (up to 55%) still don’t trust traditional flu shots, which have largely proven their effectiveness. How many will go for COVID vaccine?

And now COVID infections are overwhelming here, as they are abroad.

A close friend since college days was with family in France, planning on staying through winter, when the virus hit hard. He flew home to Idaho before travel restrictions were in place because he didn’t want to infringe on the family’s privacy in case of a lockdown.

The other day he told of a talk with his son in Paris, which is under lockdown:

“I called my son this morning on Facetime,” he said. “He was walking outside. I asked him how he could walk around outside during a lockdown. He said he had a pass for one hour. Everyone is allowed one hour outside every day to buy groceries, go to the pharmacy, etc. So, I asked him how that was controlled?

“He told me the government had an application accessible via any mobile smart device. You log onto the site, get your space via your national ID number, request one hour outside for that day, and the site sends you a permit with a time stamp. You can be outside within the hour of the time stamp. You carry that permit outside on your smartphone. If challenged by a policeman, you show the permit on your phone.”

And, he continues: “This is just one example of how the French are very serious about getting this pandemic back under control and they’re succeeding. Daily infection rates have dropped 20,000 just in the past week.”

Could Americans tolerate such restrictions? It’s very doubtful. For rural residents like me it’s an hour round trip to our pharmacy and preferred grocery stores. And imposing such restrictions would bring a blizzard of lawsuits, if not civic disobedience.

Similarly, our friends the Albieros (who migrated from Grass Valley to Italy several years ago) tell of COVID restrictions in the village of Schio.

“We are currently listed as a ‘yellow zone’ and hold our breath that it doesn’t turn to an ‘orange zone’” Lynda wrote. “In reality, cases are soaring with children back in school. Public transportation is overwhelmed (school buses are the public transport here),

“Hospitals are now being shifted back to a few being used only for COVID patients, with other patients being shifted to other hospitals. Barber shops, hairdressers, spas and gyms are all closed until mid-December for assessment of case numbers.

“Shopping centers are closed over the weekends. Shopping at IKEA requires an appointment. We currently have a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and bars and restaurants have limited hours. Higher education students are now back home studying via the internet, but younger students remain at school so parents can go to work.

“Yesterday morning our neighbor didn’t go to work. He said his son’s preschool class had four students who tested positive and the entire class — and parents and the teacher — needed testing. The other classes at the school had no positive cases, so it remains open.” 

It appears we’re all in the same boat. Suppose Donald Trump advises his loyal followers: “Get a shot. I had one!”

Together with other voices of reason, that might push us above near 50% compliance. Is that enough? Would the virus go away?

Stay tuned. Stay masked. Stay healthy.

Dick Tracy, who lives in Grass Valley, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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