pandemic

Forget Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is critical this year

Spend your money wisely, and locally:

While local businesses often rely on Small Business Saturday as the 'shop local' alternative to Black Friday, this year's event might be the most important one yet. Many small businesses faced a bumpy year and are still straining in the COVID-19 economy.

Around 60% of virus-related small business closures became permanent this year, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Of course the moral argument for doing this is important: Small businesses don't have the reserve capital or resources to sustain themselves for very long, and Federal government assistance seems to always gravitate to larger and/or more influential companies. But shopping locally, for goods manufactured (or crafted) in the region, has a profound impact on your carbon footprint. You should always take a "miles traveled" approach when you open your purse or wallet. Granted, some items (appliance, electronics) are now only manufactured overseas, but that just means you have to be more careful in selecting other goods. There are many options to shop locally, supporting artisans and sustainable farming. But today I wanted to highlight Benevolence Farm, which gives newly released women prisoners a sanctuary and fresh start:

Nix those plans for a big Thanksgiving dinner

Or it may be the last one for some of your family:

Hunt said the county will continue ramping up COVID-19 testing and educating residents on best practices. A large part of that is avoiding small gatherings with friends or extended family, he said, because many people forget to wear a mask and social distance while among people they knew well.

"Our contact tracing in Wilson County is showing that our current uptick is definitely from small family gatherings and small group gatherings," Hunt said. "We see no links to schools, churches, large venues, none of that. It's all small gatherings."

Your extended family is not a quarantine pod, and there is no magical formula that will protect you from the least responsible members. The virus has spread to the point where your exposure to it is not just possible, but likely. That's under normal circumstances of going grocery (or other essentials) shopping a couple times a week. Bring in 16-18 people, from 5-7 different pods (that's assuming they all actually tried to quarantine properly, which is a stretch), and your exposure becomes very likely. Just a quick detour while the dinner rolls are baking: It looks like the rats were falsely accused of spreading the Black Death:

Quarantine Pods: Your isolation doesn't have to be complete

This is either a brilliant idea or a recipe for disaster:

One idea that some families are considering — and that infectious disease epidemiologists think might be a smart way to balance mental health needs with physical safety — is to create quarantine “pods” or “bubbles,” in which two or three families agree to socialize with one another but no one else. In a pod, families hang out together, often without regard to social distancing — but outside of the pod, they follow recommended social distancing rules.

I will freely admit, I only clicked on this article because of the odd name. I've never been one to explore trendy lifestyle changes, or self-help guru advice, and if Marie Kondo tried to pack up my books, she would be escorted out of my house somewhat rudely. But we're all living this quarantine nightmare right now, and some form of social adaptation is going to be necessary. But before you pick up the phone and call your favorite family, explore these recommendations:

COVID 19 and nursing homes: The perfect storm

As you have probably heard, the City of Burlington has the highest increase in death rates doubling in the entire country. I've seen several folks try to connect this with the Ace Speedway incident, but it really is just an unfortunate coincidence. Burlington's numbers hail almost exclusively from a large nursing home:

White Oak has reported 103 cases in 66 residents and 37 staff members as of May 26, according to data the state released Tuesday. At least 19 people have died, all of them residents. Those 19 account for nearly all of Alamance County’s 24 recorded deaths.

County officials first reported the outbreak May 1, according to the Burlington Times-News. At the time, 120 residents had been tested and 12 were positive. By May 21, WFMY reported White Oak had the largest nursing home outbreak in the Triad with 80 cases and nine deaths.

I have some personal experience with this facility. These stories are rarely uplifting, and this one is no different:

Is Art Pope Behind #ReOpenNC?

Earlier in the week, we saw a ragtag group of shrill evangelicals, right-wing “Don’t Tread on Me” freedom mongers, and air-headed anti-vaxxers and multi-level quack health promoters create a stir on Facebook and lobby the NC legislature to “reopen” NC for business in the middle of a pandemic - a call for reopening that is coming at a time when the US has been hitting new records for daily deaths from the crisis - 4,591 people died Thursday, bringing the US total to more than 33,000 killed by the pandemic.

As the week unfolded, it became clear that #ReOpenNC wasn’t some local grassroots effort - similar right-wing groups in Alabama and Texas, for example, and Fox News pundits rallied a drumbeat for “getting back to business, with President Trump announced a “plan”, if you can call it that, for “reopening America” on Thursday.

Buried in an NBC News story about the protest in Michigan, was a clue on what might actually be going on here.

ReOpen protestors at Michigan state capital

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