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Wayne's Words: Memorial Day is the first holiday in the new normal

Wayne Horne | 5/14/2020, 6 a.m.
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 continues to alter the way we conduct our lives. The first three-day holiday since the ...

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 continues to alter the way we conduct our lives. The first three-day holiday since the shelter-in-place began back in March will be the Memorial Day weekend that starts on Saturday the 23rd and ends with Monday the 25th. Connecting dates to the days of the week is important because it’s getting harder to separate when the weekend starts and the work-week begins, or is it the other way around?

In fact, in order to understand and deal with the new norm caused by the pandemic, we have been introduced to a set of terms used to provide accurate information, such as social distancing, shelter-in-place, COVID 19, asymptomatic and a glossary of 28 other key terms necessary to understand the uniqueness of the time everyone is experiencing. According to an article in the Yale Medicine website, similar words can mean different things. For instance, what is the difference between isolation and quarantine? Isolation occurs when a person with COVID 19 is separated from people who have not tested positive with the disease. A quarantine occurs when people exposed to the disease are separated from the general population to see if they become ill. You can find the list with definitions at https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/covid-19-glossary/.

Although there are those who continue to doubt the seriousness of the disease, the rapid rise in death rates occurring exponentially is a reasonable indication of the fallacy of that sentiment. In a recent comparison, from March 17 to April 28, COVID 19 averaged 49 deaths per day compared to heart disease at 71 deaths per day and cancer at 65 deaths per day. That contrasts with influenza, pneumonia and kidney disease at seven deaths per day. The source of the data is the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The COVID-19 has also caused an economic impact on two of Joliet’s major entertainment venues. Chicagoland Speedway has cancelled events for the rest of 2020, including events for the Route 66 Raceway, and it is looking doubtful that the Slammers will play many, if any, baseball games at the DuPage Medical Field owned by the City of Joliet. Neither venue should cost city taxpayers any substantial revenue loss since property taxes will still be paid on the Chicagoland facilities and the Slammers will still have to share naming rights revenue and pay their rent. There will be a small loss in sales tax revenue from both facilities, but the bigger losses will come from Joliet’s fire and police personnel who work at the venues when they are operating. They are paid by the venues based on the city’s overtime rate. The race tracks are only open a couple of weekends a year so the direct impact of revenue loss is minimal and sales tax revenue from the Slammers baseball games is also minimal.

One last thing…Memorial Day is the traditional time the summer season starts. There are usually parades, memorial services honoring deceased veterans, family gatherings, picnics, and other events typically associated with the start of summer. Not so this year. All or almost all Memorial Day events have been cancelled or relegated to “virtual events.”

There will probably be many more consequences to come from the pandemic than are known at this time. Many holidays will come up on the calendar before we edge back into whatever normal the future may hold. This Memorial Day Monday is a time to reflect on veterans and their sacrifices.

Just a few thoughts to help us remember soldiers who sacrificed for our country in previous wars. The purpose of Memorial Day is commemoration of soldiers who died in battle. The grateful phrase “Thanks for your service”, on this day, should be reserved for those service members who paid the ultimate price--they died fighting in battle for the United States of America. Since most of us will be unable to attend commemoration ceremonies there are two other rituals you can do on Memorial Day. One is to fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff from dawn until noon on Memorial Day this coming Monday. The other is to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m., local time.

Stay tuned…