I’ve been retired now for about six months and I have to admit it, after 40 plus years it was mighty nice to not have any real deadlines to worry about.  I didn’t stop work completely because the paper and I decided I’d still cover a few events, some local meetings and hammer out this column.  But that isn’t the same as having to rush out and cover news events and having the stories and pictures and things ready by a certain time each week.  My new schedule let me keep my hand in but still have plenty of time to do the things I wanted to do.  

I was always a big reader and over the last few years I’d gathered a pretty large pile of books I was waiting to read.  I’m a big movie buff and I can always kill a few hours watching classic movies.  I played in bands, off and on, for years and I could always pick up a guitar and learn a new tune or work on a stray guitar that happened to be laying around.  Then, since the wife still works, I could always find something around the house to do.  

I did most of the grocery shopping and I actually enjoyed it.  

In a small town, grocery shopping is as much a social outing as it is a shopping trip.  You run into just about everyone in a small town grocery store.  It wasn’t at all unusual to run into your 6th grade math teacher in the produce section, a member of the Town Council in the frozen foods, an old high school buddy in the bread isle and someone you used to work with in the checkout line.  It was all too easy to go into the local grocery to pick up something for dinner and spend an hour and a half catching up with your friends.

All in all, the first couple of months after retirement were pretty great.  All of that changed with the virus outbreak and the lockdown.  

I’ve taken the lockdown pretty serious because I’ve had to.  Unfortunately, I have health issues that class me among the folks they call “at serious risk.”  Fourteen years ago I had a double lung transplant so I have pulmonary issues.  As a transplant patient I’m on anti-rejection drugs that weaken my immune system.  Back in November I had a heart attack and, I’m over 60.  Odds are good that if I did catch the virus I wouldn’t do too well and so, I don’t take a lot of chances.

For the last month or so, I’ve stuck pretty close to home and frankly, this lockdown stuff is wearing a bit thin.  

I don’t go out often and when I do, I wear a mask...which is pretty uncomfortable.  I carry around a small bottle of hand sanitizer...which I use...a lot.  

That “large” pile of books I’d been meaning to read didn’t last long.  I’ve watched my favorite classic films...some of them two or three times.  I’ve gone back and learned songs on guitar that I haven’t played in 20 years.

What I’m getting at here is that this self imposed exile gets a little hard after awhile.  The days start to run into each other and yes, there have actually been times when I’ve lost track of what day it is.  It does get frustrating...but, I am NOT complaining.  In fact all things considered, I’m very grateful.  Which is why I have problems with all these folks demanding that the state dump the social distancing restrictions and demand that we reopen the state...Right Now!

Right now, we don’t have a vaccine for the virus and we don’t have any treatments.  If you get the virus, it will run it’s course and unfortunately, people will die.  Right now, as of Monday morning, the Virginia Department of Health is reporting 98 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our county, 19 people in the hospital and 9 dead.

So, we don’t have a vaccine or a treatment.  The only effective means we have is social distancing.  Social distancing simply means staying away from anyone who might be carrying the virus.  Since some carriers have no symptoms, that means staying away from just about everyone because anyone could be carrying the virus.

We will find treatments for the virus.  The best medical minds in the world are working on the problem and sooner or later, they will find it.  Then we can all stop worrying about this pandemic and get back to semi-normal.  Until then, I don’t look at the lockdown restrictions as a violation of your rights.  I look at it as a way to protect my right to keep breathing.

If the state does suddenly decides to yield to pressure and lift all the restrictions, I’m not going to immediately jump on the bandwagon.  I’ll keep waiting for them to find an effective treatment of that vaccine.