112. The bus

Wednesday November 11 2020

The school bus pulls onto my street, then passes by as I wait at the end of my driveway to join those commuting to their obligatory destinations this morning. A child looks from one of the windows and we both assess each other for those three seconds or so, until I only see the bus exhaust that is left in the wake.

The image stayed with me, this child’s eyes, even now at the end of the workday. The young boy was wearing a black face mask, which covered all but his eyes. I really haven’t seen many kids wearing masks; it’s not required in public for children under ten years old in Ohio. But I understand that face coverings are mandated for in-person schooling, and apparently, the buses share this ruling as well.

I’m not sure if this moment in time struck me so because the mask was black, or that is was oversized for the task, leaving no clues to the kid’s expression. But it left me with a vague feeling of being off balance.

The image brought to mind of a child forcefully silenced or otherwise subdued by coercion. Maybe a symbol of innocence violated. Like something you’d see in a movie about an altered futurescape.

Which wasn’t what it was at all, of course. Just a kid social distancing on a school bus and wearing a face mask. Probably a little bit bored by the ride through the suburbs to the elementary school that’s just around the corner from us. Nothing more or less.

I suppose I’ll get used to seeing little kids wearing masks on a school bus, like everything that’s becoming a new normal in these weird times.

Ohio is moving into its third spike in COVID-19 cases. Schools are struggling to meet both educational needs and those of the families with kids. Classes here are alternated between in-school and distance learning, which in turn is alternated with the grade levels. And we’ll be hitting the regular flu season in the next few weeks, which will continue until next spring.

It feels overwhelming and I don’t even have a kid in school.

In Governor DeWine’s state briefing this afternoon, he continues to encourage Ohioans to wear face masks, social distance, and avoid events of more than a few people. He’s concerned with the rising number in cases and is considering another temporary closing of restaurants and bars.

Those businesses who have somehow survived so far would hit another financial challenge. Bars are already losing money with the 10pm curfew imposed. Restaurant operators were knocked to their knees just trying to keep serving their communities this summer. It will already take months to recover what they’ve lost so far.  

It feels like the hard-working small business owner who’s been following the rules all along is getting punished, doesn’t it?

And we can’t forget the workers who’ve been furloughed or lost their jobs.

DeWine is doubling down on the mandate that a face mask must be worn in any indoor location that is not a home. Not said, but seems kinda obvious, that you don’t need to wear a face mask when in your car, unless you have non-family unit people with you. (Why some people wear a mask while driving alone in their car is a question for minds greater than mine.)

Governor DeWine has three provisions for businesses to follow:

  • Each business will be required to post a face-covering requirement at all public entrances to the store.
  • Each store will be responsible for ensuring that customers and employees are wearing masks.
  • The state’s new Retail Compliance Unit, comprising agents led by the Bureaus of Workers’ Compensation, will inspect or ensure compliance.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Cases: The state recorded 5,874 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, the second-highest daily total of the pandemic. Ohio logged its highest-ever number – 6,508 – on Tuesday, obliterating Saturday’s record by nearly 1,000. Ohio raced past the 4,000-case mark to north of 6,000 in only a week.

Positivity: The positive rate on tests for the latest available day (Monday) jumped dramatically to 11.9% — the highest since late April when testing generally was restricted to suspected infections and the vulnerable. The seven-day average positivity average rose to 10%, four times the figure in late September.

Columbus Dispatch, November 11 2020

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