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By Bill Diem

We just got back from a short vacation in Normandie. The weather was cool, too cool to swim. I could make a few casts into the ocean, hoping but seldom believing that a bar, a sort of salt-water walleye, would like the look of my lure. At low tide I got to hunt for shellfish with small children, and with big people. And on Thursday and Saturday, I got to go to very busy outdoor markets and shop for rice pudding and veggies.

At the markets, everyone is masked. Almost everyone who is a senior citizen is vaccinated, but we all wear masks in public busy places. When we walk along the river, some people mask, and others don’t. Often I have mine dangling until I am about to pass someone, and then I mask up. It’s a courtesy.

I am planning to come to Michigan this summer, although right now my French wife could not come with me, so I am waiting for clarification. Europe has decided to open up borders to many foreigners – vaccinated ones – so I think that the United States will soon follow.

So here I am, hoping to come back to Lake Manistique, Curtis, Newberry, McMillan, and wild places I know or want to meet, and a friend passes to me a Michigan Radio story describing how in Luce County, people say they are fully vaccinated, and they aren’t.

Why?

Why not get vaccinated? Some people have reasons.

So why lie about it? Aren’t the reasons good enough?

The fact is that vaccination is how human beings got rid of smallpox and measles and polio. Vaccination against COVID-19 is 95% effective, and if you do get it, you don’t die from it. Bad reactions to the jab are way less than 1%.

This means to me that many people in Luce County are so proud of their independence and freedom that they don’t care if they get sick, and they don’t care if they infect others. That sort of PR is really sad.

What does it mean that so many people then lie about it? If you are an independent son-of-a-gun who doesn’t care about your health or that of others, why not be proud of your independence? Wear a pin: «Never vaccine!»

The United States generally has been ahead of France in getting people vaccinated. France starts making all adults eligible this week, and the USA was there many weeks ago. In France, where 40% of people said at the beginning that they didn’t plan to get a jab, that figure has fallen to 20% as people realize that this is a good thing.

I hope that a similar change takes hold in Luce County. I like to eat at Timber Charlie’s. I want to do it again. But right now, the safest place to sit around inside in Newberry is probably at the Newberry News office. Is there a coffee machine?