Utah's First Rodeo | Private Eye | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Private Eye

Utah's First Rodeo

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Since at least early April, I've been bitching and moaning here about how poorly Utah is doing on the coronavirus front. So, after considerable thought, perhaps 45 seconds worth, I think a better course will be to lay off of Gov. "Counting Down the Days" Herbert and his co-pilot, Lt. Gov. Spencer "I Post Forest Fire Smoke on Twitter" Cox, this week. Not entirely, though. For example, I hold both responsible for the rising cases and deaths of Utahns due to coronavirus. If not for Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson imposing strict closure and stay-safe restrictions, it would be much higher. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall imposed similar restraints in her city.

Had it been left to Herbert and Cox, those restrictions would not have been implemented, and one can only fear what the case counts and deaths would now tally. The pissy part about that is, while Salt Lake County plus Summit County, Grand County (Moab, basically) and the town of Springdale took the painful route of playing safe, the rest of Utah did not. Utah residents will quickly recognize that those four points are basically where all the Democrats in Utah live. In years past, Carbon County could have been counted on to mask up as well, but the blue-collar union Democrats of Carbon County have been body snatched.

Is it possible the political map came into play in the Utah coronavirus curtailment plan? Yes, 100%. Herbert and Cox have no risk at all if persons in Democratic districts die in a proportion higher than the rest of the state. They suffer no political risk, either, if a great number of those are from the marginalized Hispanic and Polynesian communities of Salt Lake County. Both have suffered out of proportion in cases and deaths, following a national trend of COVID-19 spread among peoples who are, ironically, trusting and family-centric. They hug a lot. They gather en masse at family gatherings. They also comprise big chunks of the latest immigration blocs to Utah.

During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19, recent immigrants also suffered disproportionately. Yes, yes, I know—there is at least one knucklehead out there who constantly says the Spanish flu began in 1917 and who also recently attributed it to bringing an end to World War II (yes, we know WWII began in 1939). Let's just say that's a bunch of hooey, especially from a guy who lost his own grandfather, Friedrich Trump, to Spanish flu in 1918. He was 49 years old—not over 80 and ready to die anyway. I think that's why Trump always claims the flu occurred in 1917, allowing him to deny he is affected by it today. But, I'm no shrink, just a former bartender.

The Greek community was hit hard in 1918 along with other immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe—the Italians being hit worse than the others—so, why aren't Greeks dying in the same ratios today? For starters, there is no such thing as a Greek community any longer—at least not in Utah, which once had insular Greek communities in Salt Lake, Bingham Canyon, Ogden and Carbon County. Now, we get together during the Greek Festival, Christmas and Easter, and that's about it. Utah Greeks barely get along most of the time.

Today's Utah Greeks are as likely to contract coronavirus as any other Salt Lake County resident with good plumbing, an office job and a fence to keep the neighbors at bay. The only people I know who have had COVID-19 are a nephew and a great-aunt who both recovered. Neither contracted the virus within the Greek "community" nor did the poor mothers of several Greeks I know who lost their lives to the virus. It isn't that Greeks are less likely to contract COVID-19 today compared to those who contracted in 1918 because they are Greek and immune; it's because they no longer live in immigrant communities that have always been less safe and more exposed to unhealthy living conditions.

Greeks were scorned as the very plague itself in 1918. That's not to imply today's modern politicians care little about Hispanics or Polynesians. However, Herbert and Cox are giving wide swath and deference to persons who don't live in the counties and communities named above. That those persons living in rural Utah are mostly Republican is probably just a giant coincidence.

But the cows will come home, as the good people of Sanpete County like to say. It matters little that the past three weeks have shown case declines in Utah. What matters more is that Utah has done nothing different than has been done in Texas and Florida where cases are exploding. Same recipe, same pie. Myself, family and friends have travelled through Fillmore, Beaver, Panguitch, Cedar City and even lovely Fairview—Spencer Cox-land—and if there are 50 people wearing masks in that entire region, I'll buy you a mule.

The mantra is, "We don't have it down here." Well, yes, you do; yes, you do. If not now, soon enough. It's only a matter of time when a rural resident visits Salt Lake City (or Mesquite or Phoenix) and takes the virus back home in the same manner so many rural politicians "catch" heavy drinking, hot tubbing with teenagers, or gayness during the legislative session.

There are people bragging that there was no COVID-19 spread resulting from recent rodeos and political events in Utah County and Juab County, somehow validating that they are safe and urban Utahns are 'fraidy cat libtards. I'm pretty sure that wasn't their first rodeo. But this isn't the first rodeo for a terrible virus, either. Utah has a ways to go till the barrel-racing event. Mask up.

Send comments to john@cityweekly.net