People are dying faster than a columnist can cite the number of deaths, that is to be sure. Whatever number I might cite today will be obsolete by the time you read the paper, but I will give you a few numbers, anyway.
As of this writing, which is taking place on Tuesday morning, the CDC has reported 2,405 deaths in the U.S. — 102 in Georgia. As I said, that number will be greater by the time you read this. If it is 10 times greater it will equal the number of Americans killed at Antietam in three hours in 1863. Of course, the population of the U.S. was about 30 million then, not 360 million.
Not making light of our current situation, understand. Just offering a little perspective. We’ve been through tougher times, and we will get through this. We will get through this quicker and with less hardship if everyone will follow guidelines.
It’s pretty simple. All we have to do to save the world — and college football season — is to stay our fannies at home if we possibly can. It is so simple. And we are screwing it up.
I got in my car and rode around the other day. I kept the windows up. I didn’t stop or get out. I just wanted to see what was happening.
I confirmed what I already suspected. The most ignorant among us will flock to a Walmart quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson.” Now don’t hear something I didn’t say. I did not say that if you shop at Walmart you are stupid. I didn’t say that at all. Lots of smart people shop at Walmart. But people who pull up to a Walmart in the current environment and have three adults and four children pile out of a vehicle and head through the door and scatter in all directions are a special kind of stupid — and are totally missing the point.
I saw that. I saw several incidents of that.
And I don’t have anything against home improvement stores, but grass seed and fertilizer aren’t essential, y’all.
It doesn’t matter if you think the whole coronavirus thing is being blown out of proportion. It doesn’t matter if exponentially more people die from seasonal flu, alcoholism or suicide every year. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the decisions the government authorities are making. The more we all stay home, unless we absolutely have to be somewhere, the safer we will be, the sooner this will be over and the quicker we will recover. And we will all get to enjoy college football season. That’s motivation enough for me.
In Seattle, Wash., a church decided to have choir practice and the good of the country — or the group — be damned. Sixty folks got together. “But we used hand sanitizer!” they said. Fifty of the 60 are sick with COVID-19 and two are dead — so far. Just stay home.
In Tampa, Fla., a preacher defied the order to shelter in place in his community and encouraged everybody to come to services Sunday. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne hosted not one, but two large services and even sent buses around to bring folks to his fold.
He was arrested Monday and charged with unlawful assembly and reckless endangerment. He needed to know what had happened to the Seattle choir.
More than 1,200 people showed up for church at Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge on Sunday. Eighty-one miles down the road is Ground Zero South for this vicious disease we are fighting. Those folks aren’t glorifying God. You can do that from home. He’ll hear you from anywhere. They are just selfish.
Again, it doesn’t matter if you think this thing is overblown or not. If we all cooperate, it will be over much sooner. That’s what is really pertinent.
But it’s only 2,405 deaths in a country of 360 million. That’s well and good, until one of those people is someone you know. Take Robert Hebert Sr. (pronounced Ay-Bare) for example.
I met Mr. Hebert 18 years ago, aboard a cruise ship in Alaska. He was a big gregarious man, a Cajun fellow who was larger than life. He seemed to be everywhere on the ship at once. If I went to play sports trivia, he was there, inviting me to play on his team. If I went to the piano bar, he was there, holding court and regaling everyone with stories between sets. If I decided to visit the hot tub or sit by the pool, he was already there. He was truly one of the most unforgettable characters I have ever met.
We exchanged information and for a couple of years after that cruise we stayed in touch, talking by phone every now and then and exchanging cards and letters. He lived in Cut Off, Louisiana on Bayou Lafourche, and was always inviting me to come down and visit. He promised to take me fishing and cook me a meal that I would never forget. I never did visit, and we eventually lost touch, as people do.
Sunday, I read that Robert Hebert Sr. — father of former Falcon’s quarterback Bobby Hebert and grandfather of LSU lineman T-Bob Hebert — had died from complications of the coronavirus.
Mr. Robert was in an extended care facility and hadn’t gone anywhere for a while. Somebody who had been somewhere — maybe church, maybe Walmart or maybe the grocery store — brought it to him.
Y’all stay home for a little while longer. The life you save may be your own. Or mine.