I made a spur-of-the-moment stop at the grocery store late yesterday after running an errand --- responding to a craving for something that resembled Indian fare. In Chariton, where balsamic vinegar is considered gourmet, that involves the Hy-Vee frozen foods case that offers a limited number of those subversive gluten-free and/or vegetarian/vegan products.
Traffic was light and I felt reasonably secure behind the mask, but as always was surprised by the percentage of those shopping bare-faced, perhaps a half to a third of the shoppers in the building.
Sunday also was the day the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 250 more deaths related to COVID-19, a one-day record. And two social media friends, one older with multiple health issues and the other younger with none, reported their positive status. She's hospitalized, he's at home sick as a dog.
According to the Lucas County Department of Public Health, two new cases were confirmed here on Sunday (we've been running a couple of new cases a day recently after double-digit increases during and after the holiday weeks). That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Lucas County to 684 and the number of related deaths to 12.
Looking back just five months, to Sept. 1, Lucas County was reporting 97 confirmed cases and five deaths.
Vaccines have been developed, of course, but in Iowa are exceedingly difficult to come by. And up in Des Moines, the Republican-controlled Legislature is in session --- without, as you might expect, either a mask or reporting mandate at the Capitol --- busy passing anti-abortion and pro-gun amendments to the state constitution, launching attacks on transgender people and fiddling with the authority of local school districts to keep their students safe.
And so it goes here in the heartland .... Not an especially promising start to the new year.