Usually, this post is about my weekends exploring the Sioux Empire.  But due to the growing COVID-19 concerns throughout the country, these plans have obviously changed.  This is how my weekend was supposed to unfold.

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, and cities around the country were anticipating their weekend celebrations.  For the first time, I was going to participate in the Shamrock Shuffle race in the Sioux Empire.  I never had the time or opportunity to participate in races until recently.  I was super pumped to make my running debut. Unfortunately, these running shoes will have to wait a little bit longer.

Instead, I decided to observe various parts of Sioux Falls to see if anyone was practicing social-distancing.  One area that is not necessarily the best place to start was the grocery store.  Residents all over the Sioux Empire were shopping in preparation for being basically homebound for the next few weeks.  Shelves in the local grocery stores and superstores were mostly cleared of toilet paper and cleaning supplies while food including canned goods were readily available.  In the Chicagoland area, on the other hand, shelves were completely cleared.  These are some photos that my mom sent after making a Target run; she's never seen anything like this.

Credit: Colleen Manika

The Archdiocese of Chicago also did suspend attending Catholic Sunday mass.  However, the Diocese of Sioux Falls is still allowing people to be present at these services.  Being a practicing Catholic myself, I wanted to attend Mass as well as see how other church-goers are reacting to the Coronavirus guidelines.  The number of people attending Mass at my church was significantly less than the usual number of individuals I see at a typical weekend Mass.  They even replaced Holy Water fonts with hand sanitizers.

Credit: Christine Manika (TSM)

As if this isn't enough evidence about how the world is reacting to the new normal, my grandparents who were recently vacationing in Florida, witnessed firsthand what the cancellation of America's national pastime looks like.  They were staying right near the  Minnesota Twins Spring Training Camp facility.  As a sports fan, my grandma knew that she had to share this picture with me...

Credit: Janet Manika

It just shows the reality of the situation.  Together as strong, resolute Americans, we will overcome these challenging circumstances.  Until then, stay well and take care of one another.

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