It has now been more than two weeks since the American people went to the polls to cast ballots in the General Election, and despite what many conspiracy-minded people believed, the deadly coronavirus pandemic is still with us.

The virus did not disappear as a result of being a hoax, but some certainly trusted it would.

As hard as it was for me to comprehend, on multiple occasions before the election, I found myself slack-jawed, struggling for an appropriate response as I listened to misguided, overconfident and unmasked individuals spraying their absurd belief that the coronavirus was nothing more than a fabricated political issue that would disappear immediately following the election.

No one was going to convince them otherwise, fact-based arguments be damned.

They didn’t care what epidemiologists had to say. They didn’t trust information from the local health departments. They didn’t trust information from what they call the “mainstream news media.” 

What they did believe, though, was dangerous conspiracy theories from websites designed to fool the gullible.

In some cases, they declared the virus was no more serious than the flu, and one said he knew of someone who had been cured by a drug that the medical establishment has determined doesn’t work.

I wonder what they think now?

Their prediction failed to come true as the virus is now raging out of control in our communities, our state and our nation. 

Between Clinton and Jackson counties, the virus has now killed at least 40 people (assuming you believe statistics produced by our state government, which, by the way, I do). I know at least three people personally who are either in the hospital fighting the disease or who have recently been released, and I was acquainted with another nice man who died.

If any additional evidence is needed, one only needs to read the obituaries in this week’s issue of the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press, which, unfortunately, fill two full pages and include at least three deaths attributed to the virus.

Area hospitals – like many others around the country – are beginning to run short of beds and healthy personnel to care for the sick. That’s why the medical establishment has taken it upon itself  to plead with the public to follow doctor-recommended practices of wearing facemasks in public, staying at least six feet away from others in public places and avoiding social gatherings. 

Even our governor, Kim Reynolds, who has ignored recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task force for months and has appeared at campaign rallies without a mask, is now requiring masks in many settings and pleading with Iowans to do a better job protecting themselves and others.

I hope that some of the skeptics finally listen, and I hope they cast a skeptical eye toward those who misled them, be it crackpot websites, manipulative politicians or the guy sitting on the bar stool next to them.

Of course, some will continue to live in denial no matter what, helping the deadly virus spread through their ignorance. As regrettable as it is, I suppose there is nothing that can be done about that.

For those of you making the sacrifices necessary to protect yourselves and others, thank you for doing your part. You may have saved someone’s life.