The “mask” was tucked in a side pocket of my 2018 Elantra, ready for store entry, police stops or trying to enjoy an outdoor restaurant. Months of use added a pallid grey to its white interior, but the outside remained green and legal in the eyes of Covid enforcers.
That was life for more than a year as a Hatfield, Pennsylvania resident.
Despite two vaccine jabs and a disposition that doesn’t recall cold or flu, I obeyed the mask mandate like a cowboy in the O.K. Corral.
Our state health boss, Rachel/Richard Levine never let up the forced disguise regime, and the sylvan state public obeyed, promised some safety from a terminal illness.
The same breath suppression was forced in neighboring states like New York, where the governor won an Emmy for scolding citizens, and in New Jersey, where beaches were closed because no distance was far enough to stop the virus.
Life changed for me with a sigh of relief in September.
I moved to Florida.
Everything viral was upside-down. In PA 99% of people wore masks, and in FL 99% didn’t wear them.
In a week I counted one couple wearing a mask. They scurried away from other store shoppers, seemingly hoping to distance themselves from the unmasked danger around them.
At first I was nervous, but then wondered if 20 million sunshine lovers could be crazy? Or could it be the folks in charge up North were just maniacal control freaks.
Today, I haven’t used a mask for 94 days, and I feel better than I have since March 2020. Call me a recovering masquerade abuser, a victim of government-forced addiction.
What I learned is that places like New Jersey , Pennsylvania and New York unnecessarily forced citizen compliance to multiple restrictions, even closing churches, schools and businesses.
Meanwhile, Florida generally has stayed open for normal activities, allowing residents to decide if they like masks or jabs, but not forcing them with laws and threat of force or fine. .
Folks have been allowed (?) to attend church, football games and school. In short, life is virtually normal here.
The result of this decision in Florida to live free and ignore hysteria must confound overt regulators.
On Black Friday, Florida was tied for the lowest daily COVID-19 cases per capita in the United States. A Nov. 26 update showed the state reported a daily average of 1,393 CCP virus cases, or about six per 100,000 people.
Hawaii tied with six, and Puerto Rico topped the list with just 2 cases.
Many states with the strictest regulations fared very poorly in the report. Michigan had an average 85 cases per 100,000, highest in the nation, followed by New Hampshire (73), New Mexico (67), and Vermont (61).
Checking the statistics for yesterday, Florida, since the inception of the epidemic, has fared as well or better than the most cautious states.
For example, lower population New York reported 71 Covid deaths and 8,194 new cases on Monday, compared to zero deaths and 1,293 cases in Florida.
Total cases and deaths among all the states are about the same level for the duration of the epidemic with no statistical advantage for strict controls.
The sobering thought for me is that if I had moved a year earlier, I would have enjoyed an extra year of living like a normal person without a Governor Wolf ruining my life.
And for someone born two months before Pearl Harbor, every year has immense meaning.