School Reopens. Masks Still Optional. Where is the Love?


By Kevin Seraaj, Publisher, The Orlando Advocate

Kevin Seraaj, journalist, Orlando Advocate
Kevin Seraaj

On Tuesday, August 10, Orange County students returned to school.

Just saying it ain’t so doesn’t mean it isn’t.  The amount of people who dismiss the danger of coronavirus infection is simply incredible.  We have grown comfortable in our acquiescence to irresponsibility.  Dick Farrel, the rightwing TV and radio host is a good case in point.  Farrel railed against the idea that the coronavirus was a real heath threat.  He regularly criticized Dr Anthony Fauci and preached to his listeners they should not get vaccinated against Covid-19.  Just because he said there was no danger didn’t mean there was none. 

Farrel became infected, became ill and was admitted to the hospital where he died on August 4.  He was 65 years old.  

His close friend Amy Leigh Hair wrote on Facebook that Farrel “texted me and told me to ‘Get it!’ He told me this virus is no joke and he said, “I wish I had gotten [the vaccine]!” 

The virus is serious business and it is still killing people.  Nay-sayers die, too.  

The delta variant is even more aggressive than the original Covid-19, so it is surprising that Florida governor Ron DeSantis is still ignoring the facts.  Despite the fact that hospitalizations due to the coronavirus have jumped some 50%, in July, DeSantis argued that mask mandates were restrictive, and issued an executive order telling all state’s education officials they may not issue school-wide mask mandates. 

To many observers, DeSantis’ actions were irresponsible.  After all, Florida leads the nation in the number of children currently hospitalized with COVID infections.  Between July 24 and 30, Florida saw 32 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations per day as the Delta variant pushes up infection rates among kids and teens. 

How many infections or deaths must Floridians suffer before DeSantis decides our children need protecting– even if they don’t undersea nd that they do?  

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, himself a DeSantis philosophical look-alike, also refuses to step back into reason and issue another mask or vaccine mandate, saying Texas is “past the time of government mandates [and] into the time for personal responsibility.”

That kind of talk might make for a good local news soundbite, but sometimes common sense ought to be the rule of thumb.  Personal responsibility has always taken a back-seat to governmental regulation– both Dem and GOP.  Stop wearing your seatbelt and see how far that personal responsibility argument gets you the next time you get pulled over by police.  

Best VPN

How much sense does it make to require me to wear my seat belt– which is solely for my own protection, but leave masks to the whim of personal decision-making?  Wearing a seat belt protects no one but me.  Wearing a mask protects both me and– more importantly– people around me.  I may not care about how my behavior affects you– there are a lot of a–holes like that in our country– so some responsibilities are better left for government to shoulder.   Requiring people to do something as simple as put on a mask while in public is such a minor inconvenience when compared to the risk.

Here in Florida the delta variant is the center of the new case explosion as a record number of new cases (28,317) are being reported to the CDC.  I’ve heard younger people pooh pooh the idea of Covid-19– perhaps because they have not yet had any personal experience with the virus’ death-dealing.  But just ask the nearly 600,000 families who grieve the loss of loved ones dead from the virus.  No matter what the conspiracy theorists tell you– this pandemic is real. 

It is downright disrespectful to the families of the dead to even suggest that this pandemic is a hoax.

It is true that lies, distortions, fabrications and subterfuge do not belong only to the right, but I’m STILL waiting to see the tail I should have sprouted by now after taking the evil vaccine younger people and conspiracy theorists warned each other about.  I was also warned by a well-intentioned millennial that the vaccine was being used to create a race of sub-humans who could be turned into a permanent underclass of slaves. 

Sound ridiculous?  Of course, but not to him.  When you have no information other than what is spread by the ignorant, unscrupulous and sometimes evil people who frequent the unregulated internet, the ridiculous can begin to sound plausible over time– especially when all you use is Facebook to do your research.

During my 30-plus years of ministry, I have consistently tried to impress upon young people that once you start having children– “it’s not about you anymore.”

Shame on every mother or father who makes a conscious choice to ignore the possibility of getting sick and dying from a Covid infection and placing their children at risk.  If you want to be distrustful, try distrusting the conventional wisdom that says children don’t have to worry about this disease.  The hospital beds are filling up. Err on the side of caution when it comes to your children.  Put on a mask, for heaven’t sake.  Wash your hands.  Socially distance.  Use hand sanitizer.  How much effort does that take? The price of taking precautions is infinitely small when compared to the possibility– however slight you perceive it– of you or your child ending up a cold, hard slab in the morgue.

Where is the love?