Boyette has come home to Aiken Standard 1

John Boyette

A few weeks back I wrote about foreign policy as part of our second installment looking at issues being discussed in this presidential election year.

I borrowed a phrase from columnist Jack DeVine, “The world is getting smaller by the day,” and noted how connected we are to the rest of the world these days.

Sadly, that includes the coronavirus.

A virus that began in China and seemed thousands of miles away – and not much of a threat – has now been linked to South Carolina. Every day we see reports of more cases, and deaths, being reported.

We are already feeling the effects with local hospitals in the Aiken-Augusta area implementing restrictions on visitation. My church, St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church, has suspended the Sign of Peace greeting and the use of chalices during Holy Communion.

Every day there are new reports of events that have been cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19. Officials in Austin, Texas, announced Friday that the South by Southwest music and movie festival was being canceled. Producers announced last week that the release of the new James Bond film, “No Time To Die,” was being delayed by seven months because of COVID-19 concerns. It seems the coronavirus can stop 007 in his tracks, something Blofeld, Dr. No, Goldfinger and other villains could never do.

The big international event around here is the Masters Tournament, and last week I started getting questions from readers and friends about how the virus might affect the popular golf tournament.

We got the answer Wednesday from Augusta National Golf Club and Masters Chairman Fred Ridley: The tournament is still a go.

Ridley said the Masters, Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals are “proceeding as scheduled.” But we’re still not out of the woods; that decision could change, and Ridley said that the club will continue to monitor the situation.

Since the Masters began in 1934, only World War II caused it to not be played. That was from 1943-45. Let’s hope no interruption occurs this year.

I spent much of last week in Orlando, Fla., at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. My mission was to talk to our local golfers on the PGA Tour and to gather some material for the upcoming Masters.

The coronavirus was an underlying theme all week as golfers were asked about it. A pair of golfers from Italy were recently quarantined. The European Tour announced Friday that one of its events in Africa was being canceled, joining two of its events in Asia that had previously been postponed.

It’s common sense, but the advice put out by Aiken Regional Medical Centers bears repeating: Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching the eyes and mouth, and cover coughs and sneezes.

It’s wonderful that the world has gotten smaller thanks to advances in technology. Let’s hope that some of that technology can be used to stop COVID-19 in its tracks.

Thanks for reading.

John Boyette is executive editor of the Aiken Standard. Reach him at jboyette@aikenstandard.com or 803-644-2364.