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Opinion: Take a moment to smile at others

One thing I’ve noticed since we’ve been wearing masks is that we are friendlier.

How So?

We take the time to wave to others, to speak to them, to smile at them even though masks may cover our faces. We wave to them from our cars and other vehicles. We say hello in the grocery stores. That’s even though when we are wearing masks, people may not recognize us. Friendliness is catching on, as a side-effect of trying to avoid spreading or catching the coronavirus.

The same thing was true when I lived in Arizona, even though at that time we weren’t ducking any viruses — at least none that we knew about. And yet, this friendliness was almost a contagion. If you drove past people you knew, you waved. That was even true if you drove past people you didn’t know.

Mrs. Doud and I moved to Ridgecrest, California, about 17 years ago, and we noticed almost as soon as we got moved into our house that the neighbors were some of the friendliest people we had ever met, even though we didn’t know any of them. That soon changed. We picked up many new friends.

Ridgecrest is a Navy town, even though there is hardly any water there. The Navy people in Ridgecrest are mainly scientists and technicians who work on weapons systems in laboratories and on testing ranges. These folks get together on weekends for barbecues and draw up plans for weapons on paper napkins, working on picnic tables.

We all waved at each other when we would pass during the week in our vehicles or in stores. We would wave at each other in church and in restaurants.

I think that kind of friendliness is beginning to take hold here in Madera. I’ve noticed it among neighbors going out for walks wearing masks or bandanas on their faces. Drivers and pedestrians alike will wave at one another, when they didn’t used to do that.

I don’t mean to say we were all a bunch of sourpusses before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but I think dealing with a disease that is possibly a danger to all has made us appreciate the value of a wave and smile.

We’re all in this together, it is said, and we will all come out of it together as well, perhaps safer and wiser, and more willing to wave and smile at one another.

• • •

At least one reason to smile: Juli Gregson, an administrative analyst at the Madera County Health Department on Sunday reported our county has had a total of 51 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Here is the good news about that:

While 19 of those cases are still active, 30 of those patients have recovered.

Yes! 30. Only two of all the cases had ended in death, and may God hold their spirits and their families in the palm of his hand.

Good for Juli, for County Health Director Sara Bosse, all those who work for her at the County Department of Public Health, not to mention CEO Karen Paolinelli and all the nurses and doctors at Madera Community Hospital who do their best to keep the rest of us safe and well.

And that goes for all the doctors, nurses and those who labor in the laboratories of our medical community.

A wave and a smile to all of these brave and hard-working medicos.

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