Life in the Time of COVID-19: Death Toll Continues to Rise – Here’s One Reason Why

Image Credit: COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s a cold late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Thursday, February 4, 2021. How cold is it? Well, the current temperature is 57˚F (14˚C) under sunny skies. With the breeze blowing from the east-southeast at 5 MPH (8 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is also 57˚F (14˚C)  The rest of the day will be mostly sunny skies with a high of 69˚F (21˚C). Tonight, we can expect mostly clear skies and a low of 43˚F (6˚C). 

It’s been a while since I have written about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In part, this is because I’ve been writing about the January 6 Capitol breach (and the saga of one Jennifer Leigh “Jenna” Ryan in particular) and the current political scene here in the United States.

I have also attempted to stick to my roots as an entertainment beat reporter (I was one in high school and college) by writing reviews and creating my series of On Music blog posts. After all, I started blogging back in the 2010s as an extension of my online reviewing endeavors at the now shuttered review site Epinions and to write reviews about books, music albums, movies, TV shows, and computer games. I guess that this area of journalism is where my heart lies, even though I did do straightforward reporting in both high school and at Miami-Dade College back when it was still called “Miami-Dade Community College” and each campus (four when I started, five when I left) had its own student paper.

Anyway, those are the two main reasons why I haven’t done a Life in the Times of COVID-19,[1] although I must admit that I find writing about the pandemic a bit depressing and enervating, too.

According to the latest stats (11:22 AM on February 4, 2021) from the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), this is where we – the human race – stand regarding the pandemic:

  • No. of Cases Reported Officially – Worldwide: 104,572,592
  • No. of Deaths Reported Officially – Worldwide: 2,271,794
  • No. of Cases Reported Officially – U.S.: 26,561,428
  • No. of Deaths Reported Officially – U.S.: 451,454

In comparison, U.S.  deaths during World War II were 405,399, including 291,557 directly caused by combat. That means, Dear Reader, that the previous President’s Administration’s lackadaisical efforts to deal with a public health crisis on the same national scale as the 1918 flu pandemic led to more deaths than the American fatalities during the largest, bloodiest war in world history.[2]  

Today I woke up to see a story about a supermarket in Naples, Florida called Oakes FarmsSeed to Table.  This business is owned by a man named Alfie Oakes, who, according to an article by NBC News, is a COVID-19 skeptic who doesn’t ask staff or customers to wear masks, practice social distancing, or believe that the coronavirus is even a danger to human life.

Apparently, Alfie Oakes is no stranger to controversy, as this video from March 30, 2020 shows.

Per Florida grocery store bucks mask mandate; owner says Covid death toll is ‘hogwash’:

The store’s owner, Alfie Oakes, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. He told NBC’s “TODAY” show he knows masks do not work and doesn’t believe the coronavirus has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States.

“That’s total hogwash,” Oakes said, later adding, “Why don’t we shut the world down because of the heart attacks? Why don’t we lock down cities because of heart attacks?”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly stated that masks and social distancing can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

According to NBC News’ latest data, the total number of deaths in the country climbed to more than 452,000, with Florida having the fourth-highest number of fatalities.

And, of course, Oakes is not the only American who believes this. On social media, many people – most of them from the same demographic groups that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 – say that their stance against masks and social distancing is not about science and medical reality; it’s about personal freedom.

In a blog called Mom’s Me Time with Amber Kuiper, the main blogger, Amber Kulper, writes:

Our little town of Naples, FL made the National news!

And this is EXACTLY why I don’t trust mainstream media one bit.

They paint a negative picture of this store, but what they don’t share is that this place is ALWAYS PACKED, it takes forever to find a parking spot regardless of what time of day you go, and their business has blown up during the pandemic because when given the option many people LOVE freedom, and we won’t buy the narrative that not wearing a mask is killing people.

If you visit Naples, going to Seed To Table is a must. They have been open nearly the entire time masks optional, with no issues and over 500 employees! Some people do wear masks and that’s fine with me!

Also, same with our school. Kids have been in school the whole time since early August, no masks, and no problems!

Don’t believe everything you see on the nightly news.

The comments on this video are out of control. It’s actually so sad how brainwashed people are.

Kuiper isn’t alone in her support of the owner of Oakes Farms Seed to Table store or her skepticism about the COVID-19 pandemic or the distrust she has toward “mainstream media.”

Here are some of the comments that other “no-maskers” wrote:

Good for them. Wake up people. The flu just magically disappeared this year, right? We need a burn our mask movement. The “burn your bra” of 2021…

I very rarely watch mainstream media because it’s garbage but it was on this morning and I happened to see this story and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was more to it. They totally painted the store owner who seems like an amazing patriot into something he’s not and acted like this was the end of the world. Complete garbage and I wish I lived in Naples Florida so I could spend my money at this store!

My daughter’s doctor is in Florida (we live in Ohio). We have had to travel down there twice since coronavirus. He always ask me, so what’s the media telling you about us down here? I laugh and say, well you guys are supposedly just overrun with virus cases and the hospitals are packed. He just laughs and says how ridiculous. The media is a joke and is totally playing up for ratings and fear.

(And yes, I know the virus is real and does kill. But, I also want facts reported, not lies to manipulate everyone.)

You can choose to go there or go somewhere else. That is what is beautiful about FREEDOM. 

Photo by Matthias Groeneveld on

Fortunately, some of Kuiper’s readers disagree with the “but my FREEDOM” mentality on the various comment threads under the blogger’s post:

It’s not the rest of the people who are brainwashed here…. who is to say this hasn’t been a super spreader store? Talk about selfish.

 So…your choice that a piece of fabric over your mouth and nose being uncomfortable is more important than someone else’s LIFE?! While many are no longer dying from Covid, the survivors are being left with life-long chronic illnesses. As someone that has chronic issues, I don’t want that for others.

I will now be un-following you. You are completely entitled to your own “opinion” but what you are spouting and sharing is negligent. Especially when you have such a large following. People across the country are facing dangerous challenges, when your area blows up – good luck to you. Other businesses in your area are upset by this place of business. SELFISH!!!!!!!

And so it goes.

[1]  A tip of the hat to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.

[2]  And the United States was rather fortunate during World War II, as it was the only major warring nation that didn’t see its cities bombed or its mainland threatened by an enemy invasion/occupation. American overseas territories – such as the Philippine Islands, Guam, and a couple of the Aleutian Islands – were overrun and occupied by the Japanese during the Pacific War, but we didn’t suffer as much as the Soviet Union, China, Poland, or any of the countries conquered by the Axis powers. China alone is estimated to have lost 30 million lives (military and civilian), while the Soviets lost over 25 million overall.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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