BATON ROUGE — It ain’t over, until it’s over.
The late Yankee catcher great Yogi Berra was not talking about COVID-19 when he said that in the summer of 1973. He was talking baseball as the manager of the New York Mets, who proved him prophetic as they rallied from 12.5 games out of first in the National League East in July to win the division and later advance to the World Series.
Too bad Berra is not around for a public service message where he could repeat perhaps the most famous of his multitude of Yogi-isms.
Someone needs to get that message across concerning the coronavirus pandemic that, yes, it’s still a pandemic.
“People keep talking about a second wave,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the preeminent authority on COVID-19, told the Wall Street Journal last week.
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“We’re still in a first wave,” said Fauci, who has served every United States president since Ronald Reagan in 1984 and helped create President George W. Bush’s successful emergency plan for AIDS relief in 2003.
Maybe another bit of news on Saturday will get Louisianans — and everyone hopefully — to wake up and put on their masks and stop pretending it’s over, or acting out over some sense of rebellion that is more juvenile than courageous.
At least 30 LSU football players have recently been quarantined because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have had contact with someone who did.
They are all young and in great shape, so they likely will be done with the virus in a couple of days if they have not already gotten over it. But maybe the fact that COVID-19 has now hit home in Louisiana at that most sacred part of the house — LSU Football — people will get it that it is not over.
“The reality is every Louisianan needs to do a gut check on whether he or she has been slacking off on taking proper precautions,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Thursday as the first wave rolled onward in Louisiana.
There were another 870 new cases and 20 deaths reported in the state on Saturday.
LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said on ESPN’s Paul Finebaum Show on Friday that people going to LSU football games at Tiger Stadium this fall may be required to wear a mask.
“This isn’t a political statement,” said Woodward, who worked with Democrat political strategist James Carville under Baton Rouge mayor Pat Screen in the 1980s. His comments echoed that of Fauci, who said this about his job:.
“You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological. I’m a scientist, and I’m a physician. And that’s it.”.
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When Woodward wears a mask, he thinks of his elders.
“This is a health statement,” he said. “We’re trying to save lives here. I think about my parents. I think about elderly folks and people with immune systems that are compromised. We have to do these things to curtail this pandemic.”.
In an interview last week with USA TODAY-Louisiana, LSU associate athletic director for health and wellness Shelly Mullenix said she expected to see several LSU football players test positive for COVID-19.
“Sure, there will be some, maybe many. It’s a pandemic,” she said as players were being tested. “We’re prepared for every scenario. We want to keep our community healthy, not just us.”.
They may not have expected 30, but they were ready and swiftly quarantined everyone involved, which is sort of like applying one large mask over the football facility. The players will be fine, but they do not need to be out and about where they could infect others.
Meanwhile, the Tigerland bar circuit near campus should be off limits to all LSU football players and other student-athletes. In fact, for the time being it is not a good idea for anyone to go there.
State health officials on Friday said there was a cluster of COVID-19 outbreaks stemming from patrons at bars in and near the Tigerland area, which is where some of the LSU football players had been frequenting after just returning to campus June 9.
LSU is not unique in the rash of COVID-19 cases. At Clemson, 21 football players tested positive. Kansas State had 14 test positive, while Texas had 13.
The first wave continues, perhaps because Phase One of the prevention plan was discontinued early this month in Louisiana. Suddenly, it was TGIPT — Thank God It’s Phase Two — throughout the state.
I saw more unmasked people than I see masked people at Mardi Gras. They were everywhere. They were in large groups in backyards. They were not social distancing. They thought it was over — or close to it.
Not a good strategy. Former LSU pass game coordinator Joe Brady would have kept his mask on and kept passing disinfectant.
It ain’t over, until it’s over. True. But forget that. We’re not even at halftime yet.