It was a year ago that COVID-19 became a reality in Michigan.   Sure, we were all worried about the things we were hearing in the news, and confused by how little we and even the experts understood about this virus.    But one year ago, the reality of it was felt as drastic measures were imposed.

I was on vacation in Florida that week.   Things were pretty normal on the way down.  No masks.  Huge lines at the airport.   Restaurants were packed.    But one news report after another, the reality of what COVID-19 meant started to sink in.    On March 11th, we went to a spring training game.   The stadium was packed, except for the Corona beer stand.   While others were cranking out the Bud and Miller, the Corona was a ghost town---an indicator of what would come, one day later.  That’s when baseball shut down.   The NBA shut down.  The NHL stopped play.   The most sobering announcement on vacation was the one from Michigan Governor Whitmer that the schools would close.

Fort Myers Beach was suddenly empty.  The annual Shrimp Festival was canceled.  The mood of everyone changed from one of mild concern to one of terror---mostly because of what we didn’t know.   Nothing like this had ever happened in any of our lifetimes.    When we returned to the airport, it was a ghost town. There were no lines.  We just got on the plane to return to who knows what?

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A year later, we’re hoping for something like we knew before.    On Wednesday, by order of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol Complex and upon all public buildings and grounds across the State of Michigan to be lowered to half-staff.    Well, technically, they already are at half-staff to honor the late Attorney General Frank Kelley.    But the order recognizes March 10 as the first anniversary of the coronavirus in Michigan and serves to mourn those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 Michiganders are also being asked to turn on the lights outside of their homes on Wednesday, March 10, from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM, in remembrance of the Michiganders we have lost. 

“One year ago, our world changed forever as we confronted the greatest challenge of our generation,” Whitmer said. By lowering the flags to honor the one-year anniversary of the virus’s confirmed presence in Michigan, we remember the nearly 16,000 sons and daughters, moms and dads, and neighbors and friends who passed away from COVID-19 in Michigan. As we honor their legacies, let us also take a moment to grieve together, and know that we are not alone in our mourning. 

 “One year after our first confirmed case, we now have three safe and effective vaccines to prevent the spread of the coronavirusI encourage all Michiganders to continue to practice social distancing and proper hygiene and get vaccinated once they are eligible because this is the most effective way to protect you, your family, and others from COVID-19There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we will get through this pandemic together.”  

To lower flags to half-staff, flags should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The process is reversed before the flag is lowered for the day. Flags should be returned to full-staff on ThursdayMarch 11, 2021.    


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