Karen’s Mask Law Compliance Update (Boston to Minneapolis and back)

Here is one Karen’s report on the extent to which Americans are complying with the new mask laws. This is based on a May 30-June 3 trip from Boston to Minneapolis via Cirrus SR20 (“only a little slower, door-to-door, than a Honda Accord”). Stops included the following:

  • Massachusetts
  • Upstate New York (Syracuse, Niagara Falls)
  • Michigan
  • Wisconsin
  • Minnesota
  • Indiana
  • Ohio
  • Upstate New York (Elmira)
  • Massachusetts

The first thing to note is that travel in the U.S. today is a lot like travel within Europe in the Middle Ages. Every state has its own rules and every city within a state may have additional rules. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, people are supposed to wear masks when walking on a deserted sidewalk or in an empty park. In other parts of Massachusetts, the rule is to wear a mask when in a store or in a crowded outdoor space. In Niagara Falls, the law requires a mask indoors, but not outdoors. In Minnesota, the state recommends that people wear masks in stores, but it is not required. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, on the other hand, masks are required indoors (except for Black Lives Matter protesters entering stores?).

Our hotel in Niagara Falls, New York was typical. There was a sign on the door saying that everyone had to wear a mask in the lobby. Half the employees were wearing masks. Among the guests, compliance was 100 percent for Asians, 30 percent for whites, 10 percent for Hispanics, and 0 percent for African-Americans. In the adjacent state park, some of the employees had masks on, but almost none of the people walking around did (except at a few key viewpoints and when passing on bridges, people were at least 6′ apart most of the time).

FBOs had signs on the door saying that masks were required. Employees were hanging out inside unmasked, however. The arrival of a NetJets Phenom 300 was always a great occasion for mask display among both crew and passengers. The FBO in Michigan told us that the governor, Gretchen Whitmer, had recently come through. She’s a passionate advocate for lockdown and masks, but came off her private aircraft unmasked and, without any TV cameras around, came through the narrow FBO building unmasked.

Wisconsin? The state offers the same guidance as the W.H.O. (formerly “experts” but no longer worthy of the title due to their anti-mask heresy): don’t wear a mask unless you know what you’re doing and are washing your hands all the time (“Do not touch your mask while wearing it; if you do, clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp.”) No sign at the door of the FBO. Nobody wearing a mask inside or outside.

Eden Prairie, Minnesota: some signs recommending masks, but mostly official state advice signs to stay away if you have flu-like symptoms. Inside the Target, the employees were masked, but only about 40 percent of the customers. Mask use was low for the older shoppers. Ethnicity was a good predictor, as in New York: Asians were 100 percent masked. Muslim women who were otherwise covered from head to toe? 0 percent masked. Restaurants are open for outdoor dining; we enjoyed a meal under a tent and our young waitress had a mask… just underneath her nose.

Indiana: No masks at the FBO.

Ohio: Retail and restaurant workers were masked. Restaurants are open for dine-in, so we took advantage and had lunch at Tony Packo’s of M*A*S*H fame.

Upstate New York: No masks at any of the three FBO stops.

Return to Massachusetts: No masks at the FBO that had been an exemplary masked environment not even a week earlier. “Did you give up on masks?” I asked the guy behind the front desk. “There is a crowd of 20,000 protesting in downtown Boston right now. What’s the point?”

On walks around our neighborhood, which adopted a “You must have a mask around your neck at the ready whenever you’re out in public” rule, compliance with the law had fallen from 80 percent (a month ago, when the rule was new) to 20 percent.

Conclusion: Americans are capable of following an inconvenient rule for about a month.

Gratuitous Photos from Karen’s iPhone…


The right way to run shops in a plague environment:

Someone went a little nuts with the nose art for a Diamond Star DA-40:

One hand on the yoke and one hand on the life raft while crossing the 50-degree waters of Huron and Michigan:

“Nice Beaver” (Flying Cloud, KFCM, Minnesota):

I had planned to stay in downtown Minneapolis and walk around, but the civil unrest made it seem wiser to hole up in Eden Prairie. After two nights locked into the Hampton Inn, with only the occasional trip to a nearby strip mall for exercise and necessities, I had no difficulty understanding how people who’d been locked down for three months might riot. Midwestern cuisine:

Good news: outdoor dining is open. Bad news: Applebee’s is open.

Even at an FBO owned and run by African-Americans, Fox News prevails. Also, a shocking site for someone from Boston: an open gym!

Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby across the street from each other in suburban Toledo, Ohio. (The driver in front of us paid for our breakfast.)

Down by the river:

Preflight on the new propeller for the Cirrus:

At he National Museum of the Great Lakes, opening June 10:

Trip highlight: Hungarian(?) food amidst signed plastic foam hot dog buns. Where else can Alice Cooper and Neil Sedaka be next to each other? Or Nancy Reagan and Jimmy Carter? For the younger readers: Sam Kinison on British TV. (here’s where he asked an inconvenient question about an earlier plague)

Approaching beautiful Cleveland with the super-wide lens:

Full moon at 7,500′:

11 thoughts on “Karen’s Mask Law Compliance Update (Boston to Minneapolis and back)

  1. > Also, a shocking site for someone from Boston: an open gym!

    I just sold adjustable bench, barbell and some weight plates I had in my garage for $500. I bought them 10 years ago for $300. Luckily Seattle gyms are going to be closed for awhile.

    I had so much interest on FB Marketplace that I think it was possible to sell it for $600-700. I priced it based in the similar items, but seems was a bit off. It looks like some people have alerts set up for new postings or something, because first inquiries came in just seconds after I clicked “post” button.

  2. The population of the midwest briefly increased to 2 as the Greenspun family flew in from the coast. Pretty rare to see your $2000 lenses of long ago on this blog. Time to rescan those 25 year old photos in modern 6k resolution.

  3. Here’s WJLA’s live feed of the 100,000-200,000 strong protest estimated for DC today at BLM Plaza. Nobody’s social distancing. It doesn’t look like anyone’s taking down names and addresses so they can do contact tracing, either. Looks much the same in Chicago, Philadelphia, etc.

    Where is Anthony Fauci to put a stop to this?!? Where’s the Surgeon General? How many person-years of lives will be lost?

    “Who have you had contact with in the past two weeks?”
    “Oh, about 6,203 people in Washington, DC but I lost count.”


  4. The willingness or ability of different ethnic groups to follow the rules is an interesting issue. So here in NYC before chaos ensued, the Mayor instructed some kind of law enforcement to write tickets for failing to keep social distance. Unfortunately according to the NY Post about 90% of those tickets were issued to minorities. Notwithstanding that those issuing and receiving the tickets were minorities, those numbers did not sit well with the powers that be and the NY Attorney General announced an investigation. So the City gave up on the idea. Now if a particular ethnicity is unable or unwilling to follow societal rules they will have more interactions with the powers that enforce those rule, i.e., the police — and the more interactions you have with the police the higher the probability is that one of those interactions will turn out really badly.

  5. Phil, how many flight hours it took each way ? Thinking to go either Mooney or Cirrus…

    • Alexey: Bring your patience pills! 7 hours flight time to Minneapolis if you go direct (over Canada and the Great Lakes). About 6:30 back if you hug the southern shores of the lakes and don’t try to cheat the Gods of Single-Engine Piston further. (These numbers are for the slow-lane SR20. Subtract one hour for the SR22?)

  6. Phil, thanks! Glad to see realistic numbers.
    Sounds like Mooney Bravo is the way to go. On the way back hit FL200 to catch 80kts tail wind…

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