By KAREN PARKER

County Line Publisher Emeritus

Even though I have been acquainted with the Internet for nearly 30 years, I’m still amazed by how content boomerangs around faster than you can say “Facebook.”   

Call me a slow learner, but I was surprised when a reporter from the Wisconsin State Journal called me to inquire about the possibility that I had acquired the Covid-19 virus at an Ontario Village Board meeting and about the Wilton Village Board’s recent, bizarre discussion on whether masks should be required at board meetings (the proposal failed).

As I explained to the reporter, there is no way to know where I picked up the virus, but since I stick close to home for the most part and because two of us at the meeting came down with it, well, who knows?

I do know that I can look back to late spring and early summer, when I was ranting about the seriousness of the disease and the importance of taking precautions. I am quite certain I influenced absolutely no one. I really don’t get it. We do all sorts of things in the interest of public health: obey speed limits, wear a seat belt, and not smoke in public places, among others. But somehow a piece of cloth became a political statement instead of a public health measure. And it really is political.

According to AP News, “An Associated Press analysis reveals that in 376 countieswith the highest number of new cases per capita, the overwhelming majority — 93% of those counties — went for Trump, a rate above other less severely hit areas. Most were rural counties in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Wisconsin — the kinds of areas that often have lower rates of adherence to social distancing, mask-wearing and other public health measures, and have been a focal point for much of the latest surge in cases.”

This is nuts. Do these people watch only Fox News? Do they listen only to Donald “It Will be Gone by March or April or Easter or Summer” Trump?

And then when it did not go, he declared it gone and went golfing.

I was one of the first in the area when I picked up this nasty disease in September. Stuck full of needles and tubes, I wrote a column from my hospital bed. This ain’t fun, I told you. Take it seriously and protect yourself.

But I was whistling in the wind. Since then, experts have warned that this will be a very sad winter, while hospital staff are nearly on their knees begging people to protect themselves and stay out of the hospitals, which already are stuffed full of Covid patients.

When I was in Mayo, it had one floor with nine rooms dedicated to Covid patients. This past week, it was reported it had between 22–34 patients, so I am guessing it already has taken over the other four floors it had set aside in the event of a rush. Meanwhile, Gundersen reported 50 some Covid-19 patients.

And I would not recommend Ontario as a safe place to hang out these days, as folks seem to be dropping in droves.

Over the four-day weekend, Monroe County reported 159 new cases and 17 more on Monday, whereas Vernon County saw 149 new cases for Saturday through Monday, with 18 cumulative deaths reported since the start of the pandemic. More telling, 17 are hospitalized. This virus does not produce “hello and goodbye” hospital visits; at minimum, you will be there for days, if not weeks or worse yet months, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in bills.

My little five-day vacation was in excess of 15K.

Folks in our neighborhood aren’t just catching Covid-19; now they are going into the hospital, and some are dying. How much more proof does anyone need to put on a mask and relinquish your Constitutional right to infect others with a deadly disease?