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2nd wave of virus cases? Experts say we're still in the 1st

What’s all this talk about a “second wave” of U.S. coronavirus cases?

In The Wall Street Journal last week, Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a piece headlined “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave’” that the nation is winning the fight against the virus.

Many public health experts, however, suggest it’s no time to celebrate. About 120,000 Americans have died from the new virus and daily counts of new cases in the U.S. are the highest they’ve been in more than a month, driven by alarming recent increases in the South and West.

But there is at least one point of agreement: “Second wave” is probably the wrong term to describe what’s happening.

“When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. “We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.”

Clearly there was an initial infection peak in April as cases exploded in New York City. After schools and businesses were closed across the country, the rate of new cases dropped somewhat.

But “it’s more of a plateau, or a mesa,” not the trough after a wave, said Caitlin Rivers, a disease researcher at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security.

Scientists generally agree the nation is still in its first wave of coronavirus infections, albeit one that’s dipping in some parts of the country while rising in others.

“This virus is spreading around the United States and hitting different places with different intensity at different times,” said Dr. Richard Besser, chief executive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who was acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when a pandemic flu hit the U.S. in 2009.

Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan flu expert, echoed that sentiment.

“What I would call this is continued transmission with flare-ups,” he said.

Flu seasons sometimes feature a second wave of infections. But in those cases, the second wave is a distinct new surge in cases from a strain of flu that is different than the strain that caused earlier illnesses.

That’s not the case in the coronavirus epidemic.

Monto doesn’t think “second wave” really describes what’s happening now, calling it “totally semantics.”

“Second waves are basically in the eye of the beholder,” he said.

But Besser said semantics matter, because saying a first wave has passed may give people a false sense that the worst is over.

Some worry a large wave of coronavirus might occur this fall or winter — after schools reopen, the weather turns colder and less humid, and people huddle inside more. That would follow seasonal patterns seen with flu and other respiratory viruses. And such a fall wave could be very bad, given that there’s no vaccine or experts think most Americans haven’t had the virus.

But the new coronavirus so far has been spreading more episodically and sporadically than flu, and it may not follow the same playbook.

“It’s very difficult to make a prediction,” Rivers said. “We don’t know the degree to which this virus is seasonal, if at all.”

Puppies, and a pig, on parade

JUNIATA — Ben Alloway was thrilled to have so many furry visitors at his fourth birthday party on Saturday afternoon.

Ben’s parents, Kyle and Makayla, arranged to have a surprise “puppy parade” with visitors walking dogs by the Alloways’ Juniata home during the party.

Due to concerns about the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, the party itself was limited only to family.

Kyle and Makayla used Facebook to invite the public to bring their dogs and walk by the Alloway house, however.

“He thought it was great,” Kyle Alloway said. “He was just having a good time anyway because his family was here. He loved the animals. He was handing out treats, and he was petting them. Some of them had gifts for him, including a service animal that had a present for him in her backpack.”

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Ben Alloway gets an unexpected kiss from Mia during a “Puppy Parade” for his fourth birthday party Saturday in Juniata.

Ben’s third birthday was monster truck-themed with all monster truck décor.

“This year we asked him what he wanted for his birthday and his wish was to have a ‘wolf petting zoo,’ ” Kyle said. “He’s really taken an interest in wolves.”

The effort started with Kyle and Makayla asking friends they knew who had huskies to bring their dogs by, which turned into any dog welcome.

Still, Kyle estimated there were 10 huskies in the parade.

“We had a really good turnout,” he said.

The parade included 40-50 dogs, and one pig

Michelle Jones, whom the Alloways hadn’t met prior to Saturday, organized parade participants from a church parking lot, about a block away. She brought a card for everyone to sign.

The Alloways had a water bowl and goodie bags available for the dogs.

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Strangers and friends of Ben Alloway participate in a “puppy parade” in honor of the 4-year-old’s birthday Saturday in Juniata.

Kyle was encouraged by the public participation at his son’s birthday party.

“Honestly, I think people need something good right now where it’s kind of a rough time,” he said. “People have been home. People can’t get out. This was a positive experience for everybody. It just shows our community is close, comes together.”

Disc golfers impressed with Libs Park course during tournament

Disc golfers took to the courses at Libs Park and Lake Hastings on Saturday to compete in the annual Pepsi Classic Disc Golf Tournament.

This year’s tournament was the first time Libs Park was part of the event. The park’s nine-hole disc golf course was completed a little over a year ago.

“It’s nice to get people inside of our community and outside of our community to experience other parks that we have, because we have great parks,” said Ryan Martin, who is recreation superintendent for the Hastings Parks and Recreation Department.

The tournament included cash prizes for top finishers as well as hole prizes in both the morning and afternoon for being closest to the hole off the drive. There was also an ace fund.

After 18 holes at Libs Park, the golfers played the full 18-hole course at Lake Hastings. Participants were sorted for the second 18, based on their scores at the Libs Park course.

Drew Anderson of Lincoln and Josh Tvrdy of Omaha were among visitors to Hastings who participated in the tournament Saturday.

Anderson was a top finisher in the intermediate division.

“It’s a beautiful course, the weather’s nice,” he said, while golfing in Libs Park. “All around, it’s a great little tournament.”

He’d never played the Libs Park course before, but knows Trevor Wilkerson of Hastings — who helped design it — very well.

“It’s the first year I’ve been able to come out and enjoy it,” Anderson said.

While it only includes nine holes, the Libs Park course contains two different tee boxes for each hole.

“They’re different view points and a little different distances too with each tee box,” Martin said. “That’s kind of unique. It’s not just a straight up 18 holes. It’s nine holes and they play it twice.”

Like Anderson, Tvrdy also was impressed with the course.

“It’s really nice out here in this park,” he said. “It’s a challenging course with multiple tee pads. You can’t really ask for anything better than that.”

Martin was pleased with the outcome this year.

“We have 32 players here, which is a really good number for us,” he said. “I know Kearney has a rescheduled tournament going on today, too. So I was a little nervous about if we’d have a good turnout or not, but we also have had a great turnout.”

For the first time, there was a women’s division with three female golfers competing.

“That’s exciting,” Martin said. “We want to encourage more women to come out and play, so we have a straight-up women’s division. That’s neat.”

Top results

1st 2nd Final

Open division

1. Vail Erickson 51 48 99

2. Trevor Wilkerson 49 52 101

3. Anthony Sump 50 52 102

Masters division

1. Johnny Cakes 53 56 109

2. Brad Gross 56 60 116

3. Chris Bank 60 59 119

Women’s division

1. Kathy Francis 73 69 142

2. Melissa McLeod 74 70 144

3. Halie Holton 75 74 149

Intermediate division

1. Drew Anderson 59 54 113

2. Chris Holton 52 61 113

3. Nate Gotschall 58 55 113

Novice division

1. Alex Dawdy 57 53 110

2. Michael Wallell 68 65 133

3. James Colwell 73 69 142

Guide Rock horse show turns 20

GUIDE ROCK — Back in the late 1990s, around the time Guide Rock High School closed its doors, a group of local families with children participating in horse events came up with an idea for a new attraction in the community.

“A group of parents had their kids practicing in a makeshift arena east of town,” said local resident Ronda Petsch. “There was a group of men who enjoyed roping. People starting talking, ‘An arena would be nice.’ ”

With the local school’s days numbered (the high school ceased operations in 1998; a grade school remained for a few years after that), it was suggested that a site close to the school would work well.

The story of the Rockin’ G Horse Arena gallops out from there, with many volunteers helping to make the facility a reality. By 2000, organizers were ready to coordinate the arena’s inaugural open horse show on Father’s Day weekend.

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Clara Adam, 6, shows Sadie in the 11-and-under showmanship during the Rockin’ G Arena’s Open Horse Show Saturday in Guide Rock.

On Saturday, with cool and cloudy morning conditions eventually giving way to a sunny and sultry afternoon, Guide Rock came alive for the 20th consecutive year with the influx of horses and trailers, riders and handlers, moms, dads and spectators that signaled the show tradition is alive and well.

By noon, the show office reported a total of 92 exhibitors had registered for events that began at 9 a.m. and continued into the evening. By day’s end, close to 100 had competed.

Competitors ranged from silver-haired men and women putting their horses through their paces in showmanship, to children age 6 and under riding in the lead-line event with adults walking alongside and keeping a firm grip on the rope. All the action took place under the watchful eye of the judge, Lydia Smith-Jindra of Clarkson.

Petsch, a horse show committee member, said she was happy to see a strong number of entries on Saturday — especially in this year of so much uncertainty over events due to the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

Competitors from Kearney, Lincoln and beyond were among those in Guide Rock Saturday, Petsch said — and several had remarked that due to all the show postponements and cancellations thus far this year, this was their first show of the summer.

Some competitors even arrived in the area Friday so they would be ready to go early Saturday morning.

“It is far and wide today,” Petsch said of the draw for the horse show. “I’m certainly seeing new faces today. It reaches out a long way. Several hours out, for sure.”

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Greyson Miller, 5, waits to compete in the lead line-6 and under during the Rockin’ G Arena’s Open Horse Show Saturday in Guide Rock.

Petsch said the Rockin’ G arena project got off the ground in the 1990s with some fundraisers and generous donations, then many hours of volunteer labor.

“Volunteers traveled to get the panels for the arena and to put them up,” she said. “It wasn’t long before we decided a round pen was needed. After about 10 years the crow’s nest and office was added. Bruce Ohmstede donated his time and skills to build it.”

The open horse show began with Larry Guy, who worked for many years getting things organized.

“Pat Hunter, Laurie Ely and Rosemary Anderson were strong supporters to get things started, also,” Petsch said. “It has since been passed off to a new generation of parents and supporters with a few of the originals still helping.”

Today’s horse show committee includes five members, but a crew of about 12 volunteers is needed to make the day’s activities go smoothly.

For the first time this year, the show was moved from Father’s Day itself — a Sunday — to the Saturday prior. Petsch said that change seemed to be a plus for both participation numbers and getting volunteer help.

Whereas in the early days the horse show might have attracted 70 or 80 entries, she said, that number had dropped off over time — so the boost organizers saw this year was welcome.

Trisha Rust of Guide Rock, another show committee member, said she has been involved with the event since its inception as a parent, beginning when her oldest daughter, Kelsey, was 8 and just getting started in horse events.

All four of her daughters — Kelsey, Mariah, Josie and Laynee — have been part of the Guide Rock horse show. Laynee is 8 now — just like her oldest sister was that first year.

Rust and Petsch agreed that starting the horse show all those years ago was a matter of civic pride, and that the event has been good for the community.

“It was to get a new event in a small town to bring people out and give them something to do, something to watch,” Rust said.

Guide Rock’s convenience store and restaurant and bar both see extra business on the horse show weekend, they said.

As with many summer events, weather — especially extreme heat and rainfall — can pose the biggest challenges, the women said. A year ago, muddy conditions in the area caused postponements that pushed the horse show all the way into August.

One change through the years has been the increasing use of the internet to spread the word about the event and keep people up to date on weather and arena conditions.

Computer technology in the office also helps officials keep track of registrations and points, whereas in the early years all that record keeping was done by hand.

Petsch said proceeds from the show are used to maintain the arena and keep the grass around it mowed.

“We hire someone to do it, and he does a great job,” she said.

Altogether, the committee is proud of the annual event and always is trying to make it better. Many generous sponsors help make the day possible.

“We pride ourselves in that we think we give great prizes that are useful to horse owners,” Petsch said.

The 2021 show is scheduled for Saturday, June 19.