Yes, I got out of bed this morning intending to write my weekly column about anything but covid-19 and the variants that are sweeping Northwest Arkansas, our state and our nation. But, somehow, I cannot focus on much else.
I was hoping to write about the Washington County Ice Cream Social's 49th event, which was to be held last Saturday, but sadly it was canceled due to the covid resurgence.
The same could be said, and words written, about the upcoming Cane Hill Harvest Festival, but it was canceled due to the uptick in covid cases.
One could harangue on how Arkansans need to pay attention to what our legislature is doing in Little Rock these days. The recent results of their work making the news is how badly the 135 members screwed up fixing a previous law on banning needed and official actions during this pandemic.
So, let's think about the most popular getaway down south and out of state on the Gulf of Mexico. How about a trip to the Gulf Shores region, commonly called the "Redneck Riviera?" Well, sadly that area is now a national "Covid Hot Spot" and is under both state and federal review.
While back home, we all are glad for the first days of school in Northwest Arkansas and the state of Arkansas.
The number of covid infections of public-school children has risen from 450 on Monday to a total of 1,797 new cases noted in all the schools in Arkansas as of last Tuesday, a week ago.
Good news is that eight of the 15 school districts in Washington and Benton counties have instituted some form of mandate for face masks to be worn indoors, to thwart the spread of the infection during the school day.
Pair that news with the sad statistics that seven of those same 15 school districts are taking a "wait and see" approach. They are hoping to not have to halt school if an infection in the district becomes necessary to suspend in-person school activities.
Oh, wait, I can write about high school football. Ah, finally something positive. Or is it?
If the local team has a covid outbreak, due to not wearing masks on the sidelines or in the local classroom and cannot compete on Friday night, is it no big deal?
Yes, it is a big deal. Cancellation of a game without a coordinated "makeup" date with the opponents equals a forfeit.
I can just see a local coach saying, "We had three wins, two losses, and, of course, those four forfeits, but we also won a game by a forfeit. So, all in all, a good year."
In standing up for "what's right, as in my personal freedom says is right," three parents in the Bentonville School District will sue the district for changing the mask policy. And while the lawsuit was being filed, the 18,779 students in the district have a known 113 active covid cases.
Bentonville also had an additional 194 students in quarantine.
Another 13 active covid cases were found among the 2,249 employees and teachers of the Bentonville district.
Do these plaintiffs in this case, should they appear in court, know they will need to mask up to enter the Benton County Courts Building to pursue their case?
Overnight from last Wednesday (Aug. 18), only 16 people in Arkansas died of the virus -- down from a high of 24 deaths during a day last week.
As of this writing, in this 18-month period -- 6,581 Arkansans have died from the virus -- that is more than the entire population of Prairie Grove from the 2019 census estimates.
Usually, this column is about the general assembly. This past week, Rep. Julie Mayberry announced she had tested positive, despite having a shot last spring. She was the 30th known state House or state Senate member to test positive.
So, let's look to next week. Mask up everybody and get vaccinated and even get a booster if you fit in that select group, and maybe, just maybe there will be good news to write about.
-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.