Thursday, November 5, 2020

New Update From What Is No Longer The Trailing Edge of the Pandemic

It has been just about two months since I told you that if anyone had a shot of starting school up without major Covid consequences, it would be my little corner of the world. I'm here to report that things are not going well.

Back on September 7, the number of cases for the whole county, since March, was 70. People were not panicked, but cautious, with the usual outlying groups of deniers and total freak-outers. Okay, lots of deniers--this is Trump country, and at this point locals know that there are some stores you avoid if you take masking seriously. Our four school districts went ahead and opened, with two choosing a sort of gradual "soft" opening, and the other two just going for it. 

By October 15, the number of cases had doubled. Two of the four high schools had had two cases each. One shut down to clean for 48 hours; the other sent forty students to isolation. Everyone's sports are still going on, but with limited audiences. 

Yesterday, the state said we had our highest single day total--46 confirmed cases. I'm sure that's nothing in major cities, but we've got fewer than 50K in the whole county. And our totals are probably lagging because there is no place to go get tested in this county. 

That brings our grand total to 359. As you can see, we're escalating quickly. 

In schools, things are going poorly. At my former district, somehow, they managed to expose the entire administration team, so all administrators and most of the main office staff have been in isolation. This week the district has gone to virtual school. Two weeks back, an entire fifth grade team was sent into isolation. In another district, three teachers have just tested positive. The state has met with several local superintendents, and schools are going to the hybrid model next week; one administrator has already told his people that after a week of hybrid, they'll be going virtual. 

Districts had protocols in place before the year started, but those aren't always being followed. Teachers are largely on a DIY basis for PPE. Plenty of folks, including some teachers, are pretty sure this is much ado about nothing. In the state in general, there's some question about what the rules and guidelines actually are, particularly since the GOP-led legislature took the Democratic governor to court over all of this. 

And as is the case across the country, some of our districts are demonstrating the problems of bad or non-existent leadership in difficult times, not to mention the issues that arise when administration has built zero trust with staff. 

We only have one death in the county so far, and the hospital still has room for a few more Covid cases. We'll see how this goes, but if you've ben imagining that little small town rural districts can dodge the pandemic problems of larger districts--well, that's not looking good. I'll keep you updated.


  1. FYI, isolation is for positive cases. Quarantines are for people exposed to the virus and may be infected

  2. There are only 23k citizens, total, in my (also rural, also not the hub of anything) county. Back in May, we had 9 cases. There was a big uptick after July 4, with two superspreaders (both out of state college kids who got summer jobs in resorts here) yielding another 40 cases. Still--not so bad, and test-and-trace employees were doing a bang-up job.

    When schools resumed, three of the four districts in the county (and yes, that is too many districts for 23K people) were f2f, five days a week. The richest district started on-line, purchasing Verizon accounts and devices for every child, because our internet is COMPLETELY inadequate (getting cable internet costs upwards of $20,000 per household to install). In September, we were inching upwards, maybe 3 or 4 new cases per week.

    On October 2, the MI Supreme Court, in a case filed by our Republican legislature, cut the legs out from under the Governor's ability to set emergency policy. Since then, we've risen by 25 cases per week. We're now at 205, including schoolkids, and the other three public school districts have gone online (w/ that terrible internet) until January.

    There is no hospital in the county. And like your corner of PA, there are stores where I will no longer go. I worked an election where the Township Clerk and a large majority of voters were unmasked.

    Everyone has their little story to tell--a tiny piece of a greater mosaic of community spirit vs. heedlessness and greed. We will be analyzing this pandemic, and its impact on public education for decades, but I don't like what I'm seeing, right now.

  3. One death is one too many. If it were a member of your family, a dear friend, a close neighbor, a beloved colleague, it would hit home to most.
    I honestly believe that part of the reason it45 did so poorly in AZ was due to the daughter of her otherwise healthy father, who went public with her heartbreaking story.

    We cannot say "only one death." It could be anyone you know, next.