Mask-free Redding Halloween Tricksters Could Treat Shasta County to More COVID Cases

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I write this on Election Day eve, a scary time for the entire country as we await the presidential election results. My hope is that no matter how long it takes to learn of the winner, we Americans will keep our cool and carry on.

This was also the day when Shasta County released some current scary news with regard to the county’s most recent positive COVID cases. On Friday, 76 new cases were reported, and on Saturday there were 57. Worse yet was the sad news of one death.

As you may recall, Shasta C0unty barely squeaked into California’s red tier after we nearly landed in the purple tier. Getting us there took the herculean efforts of a host of county and state partners.

As I said last week, it was as if the state dragged our reckless-driving clown car out of the ditch and set us on a rosy red road. After that, it was up to us to stay on the straight and narrow, and keep our numbers down so we could steer clear from purple for good, for all of us.

From now on, it’s not up to the state to save us from ourselves. It’s up to us to behave responsibly and save ourselves. Yes, we have rights to choose, but with rights come responsibilities. And during a pandemic, when it’s a matter of life and death, adults must behave responsibility for the greater good of everyone. Public safety during a pandemic must be a public effort, or it won’t work. As I heard said recently, the only three groups that might be truly incapable of behaving responsibly and putting their needs above others are the mentally incapacitated, toddlers and sociopaths.

Is Shasta County “Shafta County” after all?

Oh, Shasta County! What the hell is wrong with you? Do you really have such a short memory that you’ve already forgotten how upset we were at the prospect of purple barely one week ago? Do you have a death wish? Are you feeble-minded? Do you engage in such magical thinking that you truly believe you’re impervious to consequences for risky behavior?

What’s so maddening is that some of the worst virus-spreading offenders continue to behave in ways that all but invite our COVID rates to rise. And yes, Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students, I’m talking about you who not only ignore public health guidelines, but post videos that prove it, as if you just don’t give a squirt whether we see you or not, or if you infect others or not: “Worship night! Love this BSSM family. They are so on fire! God is on the move!!!” (Pay no attention to that young man lying motionless on the floor … nothing to see here, haters and heathens.)

Likewise, yes, YOU, the woman with a blond ponytail, shopping in the Pine Street UnSafeway Monday afternoon, blithely pushing your cart the wrong way down the detergent aisle; no mask, head held high.

If we return to purple, I will in part blame all of you, and I will blame others who refuse to do the most simple thing in the world to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus to keep us all safe, and keep us out of the purple tier: Wear the damn mask, if not for you, but for the rest of us.

Hopefully, Shasta County’s Friday and Saturday numbers were just a fluke. But how could we not wonder whether the potentially virus-loving Vallotton wedding in Shingletown played a part in our increased coronavirus numbers?

Sunset Terrace Unprepared for Halloween Hordes

As bad as Shasta County’s Friday and Saturday COVID-19 numbers were, it’s possible the worst is yet to come after a pair of unrelated Halloween events in two different sections of Sunset Terrace, one of west Redding’s most charming neighborhoods.

Both events have the potential to become super-spreaders.

First was a Halloween party alleged to be held by some Bethel members. It rattled neighbors who’d figured the pandemic would result in a low turnout of trick-or-treaters.

On the contrary. In one central Sunset Terrace area the alleged Bethel party-goers descended upon the neighborhood in droves for trick-or-treating.

One woman said she’d lived in Sunset Terrace for nearly 50 years and had never seen as many trick-or-treaters as she had Saturday.

“Of course, no masks,” she said. ” We really had to scramble to have enough treats, not knowing where the people were coming from. All we had left was the case of Vienna sausages we bought at Costco. Wish I could have given those out instead of all the Snickers.”

Meanwhile, near Sunset Terrace’s entrance, another Halloween party caught the attention and outrage of neighbors. By one woman’s account, about 120 vehicles parked along Hallmark and Redbud drives, delivering an estimated 500 guests. She said the party lasted from approximately 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Neighbors described the pandemonium: yelling, profanity, gunshots fired, a fistfight between women, party-goers urinating and defecating outside, and a white SUV that dragged a screaming woman behind it.

“To cap it all off, … after a preliminary police visit, there was a skirmish followed by seven gunshots,” she said. “That was followed by high-speed scrambling down the street. The police returned looking for bullet casings but the party raged on.”

The next morning neighbors surveyed the damage, which included broken bottles, busted sprinkler heads, broken lighting fixtures and destroyed real estate signs.

“Today we are walking around in a daze cleaning up the mess,’ wrote one neighbor on Nextdoor.com, who described Sunset Terrace as a lovely, quiet, family-oriented neighborhood.

One man said the offending home is known to neighbors, and the police have been notified, so law enforcement is aware, too.

“They suck and we need to do something about it,” one man said. “I’m just not sure what yet.”

While he and his fellow fed-up neighbors consider their options, and how to handle the next party at that particular house, for many of the Sunset Terrace residents, what made the pair of parties that much more egregious was their poor timing.

“I get that it was Halloween, which might be a busy night, but this was completely out of control,” one neighbor said of the rowdy Halloween party.

“People need to know they are safe. This was out of control, especially for a pandemic, and with all those people now out in the community, possibly creating a super-spreader.”

We shall wait, and we shall see. The trick will be avoiding purple. What a treat that would be.

While we wait – for the election results and the Halloween virus fallout – we can engage in some civilized conversations.

How was Halloween where you were? What are your thoughts about local and national elections and the upcoming results? What do you dread, and what do you predict?

Stay safe and stay sane. We’ll get through this together, eventually.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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