If one must wonder why COVID-19 cases are spiking in rural areas, look no further than Effingham County, IL.

As a former resident of Effingham, we still have relatives and friends living in the area. Last weekend we attended a relative’s wedding and the reception there. Seeing that cases were spiking in Effingham County, as well as in some of the surrounding counties, we called the venue a month or two beforehand to ask about their COVID-19 protocols. They told us that social distancing would be practiced, no more than 50 people would be allowed inside the venue with the overflow seated outside and that wearing masks by all would be required.

Comfortable with that response, we sent in our RSVP. On our way down for the wedding, we even checked the state’s website just to understand what to expect. The website information was consistent with what we were told by the venue management. However, upon arriving, we found that there was NO social distancing, the only masks required were employees behind the bar and the caterer, 75-80 people seated elbow to elbow and/or working inside, a buffet-style meal with no sneeze guard, sanitization, gloves or servers available and one long single-file line getting food.

Feeling uncomfortable, we left after dinner because it seemed to us as if the pandemic is treated as an "optional activity" in Effingham County.

Craig Swanson

City Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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