It’s been a week, y’all. I’m just trying to muddle through like everyone else.
The heat and humidity that is summer in Virginia is really wearing down on me. It’s not fun to run all these miles in this oppressive heat. I almost cried on my 6 mile run today when my NBC12 Weather app alerted me that a heat wave begins tomorrow. What??? As if it wasn’t hot enough already! So far this week, I’ve run 10 miles Sunday, 3 miles Tuesday, and 6 miles today. All painfully slow. Today, though, at least the baby trails I run didn’t feel like a sauna, and my typical trail companions of giant horseflies were not out in abundance today. There was actually a bit of a breeze, too.
As part of my route, I ran the beginning of the Ashland to Petersburg trail. They are actively working on updates to the path, and I asked one of the construction workers what the plan was. He indicated that the path will be paved. He also said that major structural changes will begin Monday, so I’m looking forward to seeing what that will look like! So far, there are steel supports in place, and they are placing what appears to be weed blocking/soil retention barriers around these. This is good news!
We’ve had some other good news in Hanover County, too. In an unexpected move, the appointed school board voted 4-3 to change the names of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School. Never in my lifetime did I think this would happen. And in what seems to be very active measures to reassure the public that they are serious about the outcome of this vote, they removed any reference of the confederate names from the county website and are removing the signs on these buildings. We do not know, as of yet, what the new names will be. More symbols tumbling… we’ll revel in the victory for the moment. So much more work needs to be done.
In other news, COVID-19 continues to spread exponentially as states reopen. Some are still holding on to the theory that the virus is not as bad as the media portrays it. I have friends who are epidemiologists and healthcare professionals with feet on the ground who beg to differ.
Our county has announced its plans for instruction for the new school year. We can choose 100% virtual or 100% in person, 5 days per week. There is no in between. And this decision is binding for the fall semester. There are so many unanswered questions about the plan, but so far, they have applied for a variance in social distancing guidelines, and will allow 3 feet between desks instead of the recommended 6. And rumors are floating that you cannot get pre-IB curriculum if you choose the virtual option, and this would affect my daughter. All I do know is that last year, there wasn’t even soap or paper towels in the bathrooms consistently. I am very concerned that the schools will not have sufficient supplies just to cover basic hand hygiene. At the rate that cases are increasing right now, I’m wondering if the choice will be made for us in the coming weeks before the semester starts.
Some people think this virus just a bad flu. Really? According to the Centers for Disease Control, annual death rates from influenza, all types, are between 3,000 and 61,000 per year in the US. Deaths during the 2018-2019 flu season totaled 34,200. We’ve had over 133,000 deaths from COVID-19 in 4 months. I’ve never seen the flu tear through a long term care facility and wipe out dozens of residents. This is not quite the same. And speaking of the CDC, the White House is stripping this essential government agency of its rights to collect and analyze data. This should raise red flags for everyone. So far, the US has failed epidemiology 101.
This brings us to a new job opportunity. Apparently one of the only sectors of growth right now is in contact tracing. Contact tracers interview people who contract the virus, then investigate the possible path of spread of the virus, contacting those exposed and counseling them about their next steps. This job only requires a high school diploma. Those with higher degrees can perform more supervisory roles in this process. Sound interesting?
I found a free class available from Purdue University Global that teaches you the basics about pandemic containment and contact tracing. I got a little certificate and everything! And if you just want to learn more about the pandemic itself and the science behind the decision making, the World Health Organization has a very well done series of presentations online that are part of the Purdue course.
The Virginia Department of Health is hiring contact tracers through temp agencies, so you have to reach out to one of these to represent you in the hiring process.
Cross your fingers that I will get one of these jobs! Have you thought about becoming a contact tracer? I hope these resources are helpful! As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.