Tag Archives: masks

The West Stays Weird

New Orleans      We humped the highway back home through Texas.  It was a great trip.  It was time.   We have some observations for what they are worth.

We read that the governor of New Mexico is angling for a job in a potential, hoped for Biden administration as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services.  Good for her.  She was head of New Mexico’s public health department before rising to win the governorship.  She has been on the Sunday talk shows and had a brief moment as a prospective VP candidate on the Democratic ticket based on her leadership on the pandemic response in New Mexico  Our experience for what it’s worth is that the 14-day self-quarantine that is widely touted for any visitors is only a press release to outside news sources to discourage visitors.  There were no signs anywhere in the state that suggested quarantines for anyone.  Nor did anyone anywhere in New Mexico raise a peep about any such requirements.  Though the Navajo Nation’s has been a widely reported national hotspot and their website indicated a requirement that even drivers through the reservation should mask, this was also pretty much a dead letter as well from our experience.

Coloradans in the general Four Corners area were better masked then Texans and New Mexicans with Texans being the worse.  Walmart, where masks are supposedly mandatory, showed improvement and compliance by the staff, but their unwillingness to actually enforce the requirement meant that some walked around unmasked and in Pagosa Springs, one fellow was clearly only intent on testing the ban from what we could tell.  He wasn’t alone.  A fly shop covered half their door with a broadside against the Colorado governor’s requirements.  A popular Natchitoches gas station off of I-49 in Louisiana, where people line up for area’s popular meat pies, took a similar shot at Governor Edwards.

In restaurants, the only clear line was dine-in or takeout-only.  Once it was dine-in, there seemed to be no real limits or, if any, only in the most cursory fashion in the states we visited.

Trump support was largely invisible in these red-alert areas.  We saw two or three Trump signs around in Childress and Chillicothe, Texas on the Amarillo to Dallas stretch and only in the towns.  We saw one or two Trump-Pence bumper stickers over several thousand miles.

Passing under a highway overpass in Canton, Texas, found us looking up at about thirty maskless Trump folks rallying in full MAGA-gear with big Trump banners and signs hanging over both sides of bridge to catch all traffic going and coming.  The whole scene was wild, weird and, frankly, scary to see.

I’ll say this.  If Trump is trying to juice up his base with pictures of folks in Portland and other cities demanding justice exuberantly, Biden folks might achieve the same level of incentive from their voters with footage of wild “no-maskers” cavorting for Trump in Texas.


Will Masks Become the New Class and Race Divide?

New Orleans        It is no secret that opening versus stay-at-home from state to state and nationally has now, somewhat amazingly, but unsurprisingly as pandemic combines with polarization in the United States, become equally politicized.  Having recently returned from my monthly commute from Louisiana to Mississippi to Arkansas and back, I can’t help but reflect that this experience may be more divisive than simply red states versus blue states, although that is going to be hardcore as well, no doubt.  There is every sign that we will be able to see the masks as new markers of racial and class division.

In Greenville, Mississippi as I drove through this small delta city on the way to WDSV, the noncommercial radio station, we help manage, I saw literally no one wearing a mask in this working-class, agriculturally-based, largely African-American town.  At the station, my partner and programmer there was wearing a homemade mask, and that was the first I observed.  A woman up the hall from the station had one around her neck.  In Mississippi, the stay-at-home and shutdown had already been lifting.  Restaurants in some cases had two lines for customers, one that said take-out and the other separated by a rope in one case I observed, indicating eat-in.  Tables were spaced out from each other.  I had a mask on as I looked in, and I noticed, as I was leaving, that the counter server had put on a mask after seeing mine.

In southern Arkansas on the other side of the Mississippi River, fewer restrictions had been lifted, but the same no mas no masks seemed to exist.  Stopping for gas from place to place, there were some changes.  Plexiglass shields had been hung with string.  Workers weren’t wearing masks behind the shields though.  Customers weren’t either.

Lake Village, McGehee, and Dumas, Arkansas, black and white, no masks.  Lake Providence, Tallulah, and Hammond, Louisiana, black and white, no masks.  I saw one family waiting to get in the restroom at a gas station in Vicksburg, Mississippi, who were all wearing masks.  I’m afraid, they, like me, were just passing through.

Even in New Orleans, peeling my eyes along St. Claude and Franklin Avenues and out in East New Orleans, people were lining up at snoball stands and walking the streets.  Very, very few masks, if any, from what I could see.   Across from the office recently a group of twenty young, African-American men on the corner.  No masks.  No distancing.  Riding bikes along the Crescent City Park in New Orleans next to the Mississippi River, a haphazard spray of masks here and there.

I think we can see the future weeks pretty clearly.  There’s a geographic, racial, and class divide emerging.  It is hard to believe that masks for the masses is going to be part of the post-pandemic.


Please enjoy “Your Love Is to Blame” by Don Bryant

Thanks to WAMF.