Letter to the Editor: Is this the ‘real life’?

Does anyone else feel as if they are living in two different realities at the same time right now? We walk into one store and see everyone acting perfectly normal, no masks, no sign of anything out of the ordinary. We think, “Oh good. Things are getting back to normal.” Then we walk into the restaurant right next to that store, and they have a sign at the entrance telling you to wait here. The dining room is closed. All employees are wearing masks and gloves. There is Saran Wrap covering the entire front of the counter where you order, and you wonder where your food will even come from. You begin to think, “OK, things are not so normal after all.”

Okeechobee County commissioners announce that you must wear a mask in order to enter any county building, but then in their own live broadcast meeting taking place in a county building, the only people wearing masks are the health department official, Tiffany Collins, who has begged them repeatedly to please continue having virtual meetings, and Commissioner Kelly Owens.

At the city council meetings, no one seems to have a mask on either, and their buildings have the same mask requirement as the county.

We listen to officials tell us we need to take it seriously, but on the other hand, it is business as usual, and everything is fine, and we are planning a Fourth of July gathering for the town. Hundreds of people can be in Walmart or Home Depot at the same time. People can even go to the theater. The governor says children’s camps will be starting soon, but on the other hand, the CDC tells us this is our new normal and children should be prepared to wear a mask to school next year, and buses should only carry a sixth of the students they carried last year.

Nursing home residents have not seen their families in months, but families take their small children into the grocery store just for something to do.

Is it any wonder people are confused and rebellious? People in Okeechobee are confused by the seeming double standard or double talk. They watch officials talk about masks but not wear them. They watch them talk about social distancing and then see them post on Facebook pictures of themselves with their friends and coworkers not social distancing. “Why should we take it seriously, if they are not? they ask. “Is the sheriff’s office, police department, fire rescue, county commission, etc. immune to this virus, or is it not as serious at you said it was?”

Every day I wonder if I will wake up to hundreds of dead bodies in the street or will there be a barbecue in the park? Both seem to be very real possibilities based on health department reports and actual every day happenings here in town.

Is life going to be like this forever?

Anne Linehan

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