John Anderson.jpg

Tyler Morning Telegraph Editor John Anderson.

Lunchtime is a safe time at many restaurants in East Texas. As I walked into one last week, the hostess smiled (you can tell smiling eyes behind a mask) and asked to take our temperature.

We obliged. We were asked to keep our masks on unless we were eating at the table. We were asked to keep our masks on when we ordered.

We complied to all of this because it’s a small price to pay to support a local business and local employees. Forget the holiday season — employees have bills to pay and would gladly take that guarantee of work over a new PlayStation 5 for Christmas.

But here is my issue.

Seven hours later, the same establishment has a door man taking a cover charge, a band is playing inside and there is not a mask rule or mask in site. As 14 people snake around doing a conga line, I smile. I think, “At least they aren’t making face-to-face contact.”

But then the band plays “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life” from the movie “Dirty Dancing,” and so much for no face-to-face contact.

A friend of mine has COVID-19. He is an Army veteran, a controversial radio host, a conservative Republican, a great father and he spends his lunch hour running the streets of his city. His child got COVID-19. He thinks it was from Halloween.

As a result, it spread through the home, and he caught it. And while he is “cleared” to go back to work, he still has pains and lingering effects of the virus.

Some states are mandating a 10 p.m. curfew. My friends in those states post funny Facebook messages that say, “Phew, made it home by 10:30 without getting the virus!” They joke you can only get the virus at 10:01 p.m. as well.

I get the jokes. I understand the frustration. But I also see the number of people age 30 to 50 getting COVID-19, as well as kids as young as kindergarten. I didn’t think that was possible.

My mom is 82, and she will be spending Thanksgiving eating leftover turkey my son drops off, watching Turner Classic Movies and the Food Network and reading this paper so she can tell me how much she enjoys Sunday because that’s when Jack Stallard’s column appears (my ego keeps telling me we don’t deliver to her on Saturday).

But she’ll also be alone.

However, on Monday, she can put her mask on and go shopping. In December, she’ll have a few more over for Christmas. And in the spring, she will be swimming laps and taking short jump shots on the basketball goal next to the pool.

The vaccines are coming. And so is the spread of this virus.

Let’s make sure we don’t have a repeat of Halloween so we can enjoy the liberties we have here, which is something to be thankful for.

John Anderson is the regional editor of the Tyler Morning Telegraph and Longview News-Journal. he can be reached at .


John is a two-time national columnist of the year. He has earned top AP awards for news, videos and sports writing and won the Thomas J. Bulson Investigative Journalism award. He has appeared on CNBC's American Greed, FOX News and CNN.

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