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America's now fluent in pandemic language terms

Tim Hearden Margaret Jensen
Margaret Jensen of Good Work Farm in Shingletown, Calif., sells plants at a farmers’ market in Redding, Calif., in May. She said the popularity of plants for fresh gardens skyrocketed amid the pandemic.
Phrases such as 'flatten the curve,' 'social distancing' and 'shelter in place' are part of the national lexicon. Will business survive?

It has been almost a year since we first heard the phrase "coronavirus." It is one of several words and associated phrases I want forever struck from our lexicon and memory. If the word is never used again it would be too soon.

In February, the U.S. media were already talking up a "pandemic" coming out of China and by March we were told to confine ourselves for 14 days to "flatten the curve" – another phrase to never utter again.

"Social distancing" continues to be the buzzword of the day. This came with the "stay at home" orders we were told more than 200 days ago would be short-lived. If we were just willing to "shelter in place" for 14 days after stocking up on pallets of toilet paper, mountains of disposable disinfectant wipes, and gallons of hand sanitizer after being frightened into a frenzy, we could nip this in the bud.

Try as folks have to frighten us into believing the virus would soon end the human race, our reaction to it has far-exceeded that of our annual cold and flu season, when public school classrooms became breeding grounds for everything from the sniffles to strep throat. We survived those annual bouts without mask mandates or orders to "stay six feet apart" that included tape markings and other barriers on the floor and sidewalks of "essential business."

In mid-March, California Gov. Gavin Newsom was first to issue a "stay at home order" until further notice, which in government speak could be translated "forever." Businesses were ordered closed, except essential ones like Walmart, Costco, and Target. The rest were shuttered by politicians self-appointed as the arbiters of all things essential.

Facial coverings became the new norm and continues to be as PR slogans like "Mask Up Arizona" emblazoned on billboards with similar calls on sheets of paper plastered to doors and windows of businesses allowed to be open. Masks that were difficult to find unless you were explicitly looking for one to protect against stray dust during a DYI project now come in fashionable colors and adorned with sports team logos.

People are burnt out on COVID-19 and all its assorted impacts. The California Farm Bureau Federation estimates that pandemic-related losses to California farms, ranches and agricultural businesses will range between $5.9 billion and $8.6 billion this year. The loneliness fostered by this pandemic, enforced by government threat, has been blamed for increased suicide rates. In an ironic twist just a few weeks ago, the World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19 urged world leaders to stop using lockdowns as their primary control method, although he does recommend the other precautions. No kidding!

How will this play with Thanksgiving around the corner and our cultural practices of family "gatherings" while watching football games. Then again maybe these games won't happen because too many players tested positive for the illness.

Can Black Friday coexist with "self-isolation" and "quarantine" orders?

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