In this space we at the Rio Grande Foundation don’t usually provide details of vacations to other states, but with the COVID 19 lockdown still in place in New Mexico and state-level responses varying so widely, Paul offers some details regarding his trip to Ohio to visit friends and family (his mom’s side is mostly in NM and his dad’s is in Cincinnati) over the Labor Day weekend. Ohio has somewhat fewer deaths as a percentage of the population relative to New Mexico.
For starters, this was the first time Paul has flown since January, pre-COVID. Paul flies Southwest Airlines whenever possible and, while there were numerous changes made by the airline (with flights canceled and moved around) the airline did a great job. Middle aisle seats were left empty but the flights were pretty full besides. Masks were required on the planes and in the airports which wasn’t always comfortable, but if you had a snack or water you could remove them. (bring a water bottle) Airports including Paul’s layover airport (Chicago Midway) was relatively quiet with many shops and dining options closed.
Once on the ground in Ohio there were real differences between New Mexico and Ohio. According to Wallethub Ohio is “only” the 23rd most open and New Mexico “only” the 34th most open, but there are numerous major differences:
- Amusement parks (like King’s Island) and “fun” centers like Dave & Buster’s to use one example are open. Similar facilities remain closed in NM.
- Students in most school districts in Ohio are allowed to go to school in-person 5 days a week. Those who don’t want to go in person can do virtual learning.
- Bars were open with live music although they closed at 10:30pm. We even shot pool.
- Few people wore masks walking around on the street, but in stores and restaurants (until seated) they did.
- One of the hot topics is the politicization of whether or not the Big 10 Football teams will play this year or not.
While so many people are afraid to travel right now, Paul found the whole experience to be worthwhile and flying, in particular, comfortable.