If you watched the NFL’s season opener on NBC last night, you might have been surprised to hear some fans in the stands booing when the Chiefs and Texans locked arms and spread out in a single line across the length of the field. It was a call for unity, but for too many in this part of the country, there’s no such thing. As I’ve said many times this year, we are not all in this together.
You see, I’ve lived in Missouri for more than 20 years, and know it has two distinct populaces. There are those of us who live close to the big cities, St. Louis and Kansas City, and around Columbia, where the University of Missouri’s main campus is located. These are the three areas that get colored blue in political maps, as they tend to be reliably Democratic. The other populace, which usually votes Republican — and pronounces the state Missourah — makes the rest of the map red, although they might as well make it white, since that’s the skin color of most of its residents. They’re the ones who were booing in the stands last night, for whom unity over civil rights and social justice is just another liberal hoax.
The differences between the two populations have become even more apparent during the pandemic. Both the city and county of St. Louis have mask mandates, but the bordering counties of St. Charles and Jefferson County — which exist because of the white flight that has taken place over dozens of years — do not insist you wear a mask when you’re out in public. The same thing applies on the other side of the state, with Kansas City versus its exurbs.
All of this was encapsulated yesterday in a conversation during my dental appointment. I’ve been going to the same practice for many years, and knew it would have protocols in place to keep both patients and staff safe. Everyone who works there wears both a mask and a face shield, and there’s plexiglass up at the desk to protect the receptionist, too. The front door stays locked so people can’t just wander in, no one’s allowed to linger in the lobby, and anyone allowed entry is met at the door and escorted in for their appointment — but only if they wear a face mask.
While in the chair, I asked whether the other patients have come back. The answer was that most of them have, except for a few who absolutely will not wear masks, so they’re going to other dentists. Of course, all of those refuseniks live in St. Charles.
Then the dentist told me about her daughter, who lives in the outskirts of Kansas City and has a young child who goes to a daycare center while both parents work. The administrator of the facility has told parents that it is regularly cleaned, and that no outside personnel are ever allowed inside. Yet none of the adults in the place wear face masks. Granted, it’s hard to make very young kids keep masks on, but it’s even harder when the adults don’t wear them, either — that whole role model thing — and there’s no mandate in place for anyone on the staff.
When asked why, the administrator said, “Little kids don’t get coronavirus.” If that’s true, then why all the exuberant cleaning?
By the way, it’s not true — not only can children get the virus, they can also spread it to others at home. Right now, there are hundreds of kids in hospitals all over the state suffering from the effects of COVID. But why let facts get in the way of policy?
Because it’s Missourah.