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No virus farewell just yet

There, there. That wasn’t so bad after all, was it?

Oh, yes, it was.

So, 470-plus days into this gawd-awful COVID-19 thing, the governor has declared that, as of June 22, all of those restrictive restrictions she slapped on most of the state’s population have gone poof.

No more news conferences with the governor advising the citizenry to mask up, social distance, get tested, stay at home if you can, don’t let your guard down, and don’t get looped at your favorite pub on Friday night.

That was the new normal after March 10, 2020, when Michigan and the rest of the nation waded into uncharted waters hoping against hope that we would not be drawn into this thing they labeled COVID-19. Unfortunately, in our state, close to 20,000 went under and never came up for air, while 893,000 caught the bug but escaped with their lives intact but definitely worse off for the experience.

Now, the end apparently is nearer than it’s ever been before, as underscored by the 162 cases reported on one day last week, which was the lowest head count since June 2020. It took a long time getting here, and, now, for reflection and the writing of the final chapter …

Not so fast.

Given all the twists and turns this germ played on us, reinventing itself at will just to keep the world engaged, you are a tad hesitant to declare victory, finally let down your guard, and truly get back to normal, even as the Delta variant raises its mutated head.

It’s one thing to say it’s normal.

It’s quite another to feel it and actually believe it.

Even getting out of the car two times last week and forgetting to mask up was not a joyful feeling, but one of, “OMG, where’s the mask?,” one weary citizen confessed.

True, thousands of Michiganders were never worried in the first place, thinking this was a grand hoax. We learned of confrontations at the entrance to stores as the hearty non-maskers were told to either mask up or stay out, and they didn’t much cotton to that, did they? Shots were sometimes fired, there was at least one death, and the state dashboard never tried to list the number of shoving matches and punches exchanged between the willing and the not-so-willing.

Nor did the state database track the number of times Gov. Gretchen Whitmer advised us that “we are all in this together,” when she knew darn well that was not true.

Yes, we were all in this together in the sense that each person was subject to getting sick, but what she was really referring to, while crossing her fingers behind her back, was the notion that, if the entire state participated in the safety protocols to defeat the virus, lives would be saved.

But, alas, this pandemic was not like World War II, when the vast majority of citizens were in this together. Sure, there were the isolationists who wanted no part of the battle against worldwide fascism, but the average lug on the street did his or her part, including obeying food and clothing rationing, which meant every man, woman, and little kid living under the American flag.

This time, rallying against a common viral enemy never generated that “one for all, all for one” sentiment. In fact, it turned into yet another “us vs. them” seminal moment that has played out in the voting booth for over a decade.

Now, it was playing out in our everyday lives.

So, being reluctant to put this coronavirus puppy to bed just yet, one is left for the moment to weigh not only the public health implications of this deadly experience, but, as with most things in this town, the political implications will continue to be sifted by those who do the sifting.

Yet to be answered is: Will the relentless GOP attacks on the governor on how she handled all this, warts and all, cost her a reelection invite from the populous next year?

If you know the answer to that, send it along.

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