Jim Woster

Jim Woster

It was approximately four months ago that Gov. Noem began her subtle but forceful effort to encourage “social distancing” and everything else associated with staying safe during a pandemic. She applied those guidelines especially to the older folks, such as myself, and rightfully so.

As a point of perspective, Jim, Penny, Bob and Elaine Yackley and other members of the clan, along with 8,000 other fans, attended the women’s Summit League Championship basketball game between USD and SDSU. The date was March 9, hardly any time in the life of a person soon to be 80. However, the four months which followed often feel like four years.

Later that week, the high school basketball tournaments were canceled, the NCAA post season was canceled, as were hundreds of local events such as the Central Plains Dairy Expo and the highly anticipated PBR. Schools, church services, elective surgeries and most everything else were put on the shelf and we began a new world order. It took a few weeks, but most of us began to understand the stay safe guidelines, and more importantly, adhere to them.

I would be remiss if I didn’t toss in the fact that for the first time in many years, our annual Woster family summer gathering at Thunderstik Lodge has been canceled. Dang it! The good news is that we are already on their books for July 2021.

It would seem that our little part of the world is doing OK, even in the face of what appears to be a bit of an “uptick” in the number of COVID-19 positive cases. If we keep doing what we are doing with masks, social distancing and hand washing, we will someday – soon I hope – return to a “normal” routine.

OK, I’m going to wander into the world of medicine and epidemiology for couple of sentences. Why is anyone surprised that we have seen a “surge” in the number of COVID cases when for about a month in almost every city, hundreds of thousands of people were shoulder to shoulder, participating in the various protests? It appeared that the majority, perhaps 70%, were wearing masks, which was good. However, if the estimated crowd in a particular city was 300,000, the unmasked participants totaled 90,000. That’s half the population of Sioux Falls. Also, we are told that the majority of those hit with the virus this time around are between 20 and 45 years old, which would seem to mirror those involved in demonstrations.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, the right to gather, demonstrate and attempt to make change is what our country is about. The right to burn, loot or shoot another person is not.

Many of our nation’s leaders and most of the media, condemned anyone who reopened a family owned business, returned to church services or stopped for a beer and burger at their favorite spot, all the while cheering on the protestors and in some cases even joining in. Hard to make sense of it all, but then I spent my life in South Dakota. What would I know?

I did a bit of reading about the epidemic of 1917 in an effort to determine how it ended, realizing that there was never a vaccine. The bottom line is that people either died – 675,000 in the United States – or became ill, survived and developed immunity.

We are blessed to be involved in this battle in the year 2020 in no small part because of highly skilled research scientists in our region and around the world who will, I’m certain, produce a vaccine. Those in the know talk about a vaccine by early 2021. They also talk about the development of various pharmaceuticals with the potential to mitigate the impact of the virus should a person become infected.

Idle time has resulted in personal reflection upon what was, as I recall, referred to as the “hard measles.” Dr. Marie dealt with four little ones ill at the same time, no air conditioning, big heavy army blankets covering the windows, plus the plethora of daily chores which were a part of life for a farm wife in the early 50s. Because it was July, I suspect wheat harvest was going full throttle, which meant Mother had little help from her hubby. She did what it took and came out on top.

As I think about Mother, the Dirty Thirties and World War II, the impact of COVID-19 in the year 2020 could be an awful lot worse for most of us. Be safe and thanks for what you do.

Jim is associate editor of Tri-State Neighbor and also works with the SDSU Alumni Foundation.