RV park owner Andy Zipser: My park’s open, but campers are angry!


By Andy Zipser

It has been three months, more or less, since the world got turned upside down, three months into which we’ve packed a lifetime of education about the human condition. Economic collapse, a resurgence of anger and anguish about systemic racism, threats of martial law — even the weather has conspired to shake up the status quo. When was the last June night in Virginia when we had to turn on the heat?

‘One would-be camper, on being told he’d have to wear a mask in our store, declared that he’d find somewhere else to take his business.’

Yet for all that, it’s the way people are responding to the pandemic that alarms me the most. Three months in, and the world seems divided between those who seem oblivious to its life-threatening potential and those who feel in mortal danger at every turn.

One would-be camper, on being told he’d have to wear a mask in our store, declared that he’d find somewhere else to take his business. All businesses in Virginia are under an executive order requiring face coverings, so either that camper was heading out of state or was counting on finding a campground where the staff would ignore his non-compliance, rather than possibly force a confrontation. I suspect it was the latter.

Indeed, time and again we have arrivals strolling in who act shocked — shocked! — when told they can’t come in without a face covering. Most readily relent, but not so with one of our more pugnacious monthly campers, who month after month ignores the bold MUST WEAR MASK sign on our door as she walks in to pay her electric bill — and, month after month, lectures our staff that they could take her payment in less time than it takes them to ask her to go back outside so they can take the payment through a side door.

At the other extreme there’s our gardener, an elderly woman whose aesthetic sensibilities and love for the soil are on abundant and flattering display at our campground. She works alone and in the early morning hours, before most people are stirring, and so would seem ideally placed to continue her beloved labors without fear or apprehension — and yet she hasn’t otherwise left her home in more than three months, avoiding starvation only through the kindness of church members who bring her food. “I just need to be still,” she responds to my telephoned entreaties that she get out and about.

Andy’s park

This dichotomy is evident on a national level, of course. Even as a massive Trump campaign rally is scheduled for Tulsa, the U.S. and Canada are extending to late July the ban on cross-border non-essential travel that was set to expire tomorrow. The Sunbelt states have been reopening at a steady clip in recent weeks, apparently without regard for what’s actually happening on the ground in terms of coronavirus spread — and, no surprise, those same states are now seeing an upswing in infections and deaths. Cognitive dissonance is rampant.

Public opinion, untethered to any consistent direction from the powers-that-be, consequently has been on a roller-coaster ride. Asked by Destination Analysts, a polling company used by the travel industry, about their expectations for the severity of the coronavirus situation in the next month, respondents thought it would get “worse” or “much worse” from early March to early April, got increasingly more optimistic through most of May—then went into a steep pessimistic decline in early June. “Expectations about the virus’ course have dampened and some travelers that thought they would take trips this year have walked that back for now,” the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) observed this past week.

‘The problem for campgrounds like ours is that we’re bursting at the seams. Every weekend has been like Memorial Day, with campers eager to get away from their domestic prisons.’

One of the key factors in that reversal, emphasized by USTA in bold face: Poor “pandemic etiquette” behavior by others, with 61% of American travelers saying such behavior would make a given destination less desirable. Which, among other things, brings us back to face masks. And more.

The problem for campgrounds like ours is that we’re bursting at the seams. Every weekend has been like Memorial Day, with campers eager to get away from their domestic prisons. Anecdotally, we’re seeing a huge surge in first-timers: people who just bought an RV, or are renting one, or have borrowed one from friends or family. Others are reporting a similar phenomenon: RVshare, a peer-to-peer RV rental company, reported a 650% increase in business in mid-May compared to last year. Publications of every sort, from local dailies to the Wall Street Journal, have reported on the allure of vacationing in a self-contained bubble that can travel throughout the country at a time of historically low gas prices.

AND WHEN THEY GET HERE, they want to be unfettered by the rules that have circumscribed their lives at home. They don’t want to be smothered by face coverings. They want the swimming pool to be open — even though day-time highs have only been in the 70s — and they don’t mind telling us that we need to give them what they want. They jostle each other in the store and passing each other, and see the apparent disregard their neighbors have for the rules we patiently spell out, and pretty soon it’s hard to remember that the country is still being stalked by a deadly disease.

Here in Virginia we’re still in “phase two,” with phase three — initially thought to be announced this past week — now on hold. Still, I expect the state will take that next step within the next week to 10 days — and when it does, I doubt we’ll be stepping with it. I’m pretty sure our swimming pool will remain closed for the year — and we’ll be happy to refer campers who want one to another local campground. I’m pretty sure we’ll continue to limit groups far below the 50 now allowed under phase two — and several hundred under phase three. We’re going to continue to insist on face coverings in our office and store.

We’ll continue to insist on good pandemic etiquette because the pandemic hasn’t gone away, regardless of what our governor might conclude. Unfortunately, we’ll have to do so without hiding behind his executive orders — which is ironic, given our distress two months ago when he abruptly banned short-term campground stays. He was wrong then, and in my view will be wrong now if he moves to phase three any time soon. But my sense is that we’re looking at many, many months before we get to anything that resembles “normal.”

Readers: Your comments are invited but if they are rude or in any way disrespectful of others we’ll delete them immediately. And if they are really mean-spirited we’ll ban the offender from ever commenting again. Be nice or don’t comment. Thank you.

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Sharon B
10 days ago

Kick the ignorant dangerous idiots out of the campground who are not compliant wearing a mask. Maybe call the police with hopes they support masks….even they had a few idiots who do not comply. I have no patience for idiots who could be carrying this virus and spreading it around to innocent people. I say jail those potential murderers for not wearing a mask. These are such ignorant people it’s inconceivable. People seem to be becoming stupider. Wear your mask stupid or go to jail is what I say! See how that spoils your camping. So there!
I wish the news would show the worst of what this virus can do including lung transplants, brain issues, amputations of limb, liver failure, cardiac disease, kidney failure, and the goodies like that. Cytokine storm syndrome is a result from this virus that damages organs forever. It’s worse for older people. What is older? I don’t know. 50’s, 60’s, 70’s??

10 days ago

I can’t wait for the stupid people who believe the virus is something that can’t happen to them – happen to them because they won’t wear masks or anything else. Some hospitals that are at capacity will be making triage decisions who lives or dies. May it be them who are in a hospital basement hallway, in a vent or maybe no vent available. Hours and hours will pass because no one is available to help you. Your money will not help you get better care because all the ICU are full. If I was a first responder or hospital worker and had to put up with these idiots, I would walk off the job. You say I owe you care when you are stupid, think again. Today hospitals say they will be making triage decisions in a day or so. Thining of the herd. Continue to follow the lead of the most inept leadership we have ever known. Things can only get better going over the cliff.

William Johnson
10 days ago

You can’t fix stupid!

15 days ago

. I appreciate you and whatever can be done to allow me to use my RV safely and keep the campgrounds in business. It is NOT the FLU. We have no immunity. Everyone will get it eventually. I personally would like to wait until we have some treatment plan. So I will be hand washing, distancing, and wearing a mask if inside or closer than 6 feet to protect my fellow man. It is not only respiratory but can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, still births, dead bowel. If wearing a mask was going to hurt you, all the first line people would be sick or dead. Working in a hospital shows you the truth. Oh and thank those hospital people for being your family as they will be your family if you are lucky enough to get a hospital bed

16 days ago

We understand your dilemma. Here in FL, we see the two opposing “forces”. The non-believers “it’s no worse than the flu”. No mask, no social distancing, no respect. Hey, I definitely don’t want Covid, but would I be careless around someone with the flu? No. Covid is serious, it is on the rise again, THANK YOU for caring for your guests. Wear a mask people or stay home where you can do as you please.

Kevin King
16 days ago

I would much rather have a campground require masks than what we have with a local campground that remained open during the state ordered shutdown. She defies authority and now she has publicly stated that anyone wearing a mask will have the sheriff’s office called on them since she considers this to be a robbery attempt. Our local people have voiced their displeasure with her threat and now she has been returning calls impersonating the Sheriff’s Office.
I’ll wear a mask to protect myself and those around me.

16 days ago

I understand why people can be peeved over being forced to wear a mask. There is lots of evidence that wearing face masks weakens our immune system (due to less oxygen and more CO2), making it MORE likely we’ll get the virus.
Here are the results of some actual oxygen and CO2 readings from mask wearers, showing the levels are unhealthy. https://www.infowars.com/ohio-rep-proves-face-masks-reduce-oxygen-to-unsafe-levels/
Constant adjustments also increase hand-to-face touching and most masks don’t fit properly or are not rated for the smallest virus particles.
Few talk about strengthening the immune system which is our main defense and already fights off hundreds of viruses/germs each day.
Being so important, each should do their own research and become their own expert. I’ve found that a simple One-a-Day vitamin for 50+ (they have men’s and women’s versions) provides more than the needed vitamins C, D and zinc needed to help defend against Covid (do your own research).

Mitzi Agnew Giles
15 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Mike, I’m a nurse, and I find it hard to believe that since we stopped believing in demons causing illness that staff putting on isolation gear before entering a contagious patient’s room are weakening their own immune systems. Too many people in my profession have died from cases caused by people who didn’t believe they were infecting others. I wear a mask to protect others and myself. If you don’t want to wear a mask to protect yourself, please wear it to protect me.

Pat OConnor
2 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Mike, a rep in Ohio legislature, who also happens to be an ER physician has stated that in his professional opinion, the reason the virus has spread and is more severely affecting communities of color is that people of color do not wash their hands enough or correctly.

If I lived in Ohio, which appears to be the home of some very ignorant people, I would have to seriously consider packing up and leaving. So, you can do your own research, but unless you are trained and experienced in handling infectious diseases, please don’t spread misinformation presented as facts.


16 days ago

I work in a campground office and when all this first started, before the masks were even something that were being considered for anyone other than healthcare workers, I politely asked a resident who came into the office to please stand back 6 feet from the counter. He aggressively took two steps forward and gave me a glare. I asked him again and he took another two steps toward the counter. I asked him a third time to please step back 6 feet and he started screaming at me about how it’s all a hoax and a lie, that he didn’t have to give me 6 feet if he didn’t want to. I responded that the governor that very day had requested social distancing and 6 feet. Good thing boss and hubby were in the office. It resulted in a screaming match and the guy huffily left. Thank goodness he is gone now from the campground now. I felt truly threatened by him. SO many in this area believe like him and very, very few wear masks. We are in a small rural county that does not require them.

Mitzi Agnew Giles
15 days ago
Reply to  Debbie

I’m sorry you had to go thru that. He probably came from my state.

16 days ago

I wear a mask. Not for me but for those around me. To me it is just a sign of respect. Sadly missing in today’s society.

21 days ago

If this RV park owner really had the good of the public at heart, not saying that’s his responsibility, he’d not allow campers at all. Apparently making money while griping about the people giving it to him is more satisfying. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, do what’s best for you, but judging everyone around you by your own standards is like judging actions way back in history by today’s standards. It’s somehow self serving and repugnant. Can’t we just all be nice to each other? If you’re that afraid of other people, don’t go around them. Use your best judgement, but judge not lest ye be judged. Get a grip, everybody and calm down.

Kevin King
16 days ago
Reply to  LauraC

Unfortunately if campgrounds close and turn people away it will continue have a huge impact on Full Timers. I read that when all this started back in March many snow birds and Full Timers were sent out on the road as campgrounds closed with no where to stay.
There is no easy or foolproof solution for the unprecedented situation that we are in now.

21 days ago

“If you think wearing a mask is a huge inconvenience, just wait until you have to use a ventilator”.

I’ve lost a good friend (retired teacher), my dentist, a friend’s son was hospitalized for 4 weeks and 10 of his coworkers died from COVID.

I’m 63 and recently retired. I’d prefer to follow the rules than take any chances so that I can hopefully enjoy the next 20 years or more rving.

If you believe it’s all a hoax or it can’t happen to you, watch a video of an elderly person on a ventilator who most likely will not survive. Then come back and tell me it’s not real.

Steve Baker
21 days ago

I believe much, but not all, of the new cases being reported, are due to the mushrooming availability of COVID testing. Early in the pandemic, test kits were prioritized for first responders, frontline healthcare workers and people admitted to the hospital with COVID-like symptoms. We were not doing widespread “community surveillance” since there weren’t enough kits for that.

Now we have the kits to do this and we’re discovering there’s a bunch of folks that are asymptomatic or that barely feel sick. This “hidden positive” group has always been out there per Dr. Birx, we just weren’t able to see them early on.

Personally, I monitor the COVID hospitalization rate as it’s relatively unaffected by the surge in test kits. If it starts climbing, THAT signals a real growth in overall cases that is NOT attributable to increased testing availability.

22 days ago






Dawn Littlefield
22 days ago

I will be sure to travel to his park. At least he cares about the health and safety of the guests. If an RV park allows no masks we will not stay.. good for him.

22 days ago

All of you “I’m not wearing a mask and you can’t make me” people really need to spend some time working retail. So you’re healthy and wash your hands diligently, good for you! To bad Sally Sunshine or Bobby Burner ahead of you keeps their money in their underwear nestled sweatily in their butt crack. Randy Romper over there, the one playing with the toothpick in his mouth, just came out of the restroom and didn’t wash his hands. We know because we were on the way to refill the soap and didn’t get to before he moved the closed for cleaning sign and used it anyway.
The cherub over there with the runny nose just sneezed all over the cans you’re now fondling while you compare sodium and fat. The friend you ran into and whose hand you’re now shaking, had gently moved his sweaty ball sack from the leg of his shorts, we could see it reflected in the
Covid Connie over there doesn’t believe in vaccines, does believe in natural herd immunity and natural medicine. Her three friends with covid are pretty much fine, nobody died, so she’s not worried about going out in public.
It’s the first hour of our shift, there’s 7 to 10 more to go and we’re crossing our fingers the sore throat we have is just allergies, because two other people called out sick today and there’s nobody else to call in. Oh goody, here’s Mary ‘Merica to tell us we’re sheep and we can’t make her do anything, whole she grabs a magazine Ron Reader just browsed through, licking his fingers to separate the pages.

Randy Bitner
22 days ago

Thank you for your thoughts. I am in my very late 60’s and see how this affects different folks at different ages. I have canceled three trips so far and now looking at my long distance travel to Florida in November. I get updates from my Pennsylvania camp ground on Face Book and looks like no rules at all apply to most. I.E. no face mask, social gatherings, pool open but game room closed. Even though PA is one of the few states being steady because of our phased-in opening. Yes, I wear my mask everywhere I go while out shopping. You, as employer, also need to be conscious of your employees and customers. Respect for others, if you see a sign that says face mask required, please respect the company’s wishes.

Mitzi Agnew Giles
15 days ago
Reply to  Randy Bitner

I live in Florida, rather unwillingly in the summer. I regret to inform you that our governor has abdicated any semblance of leadership, the masses have decided that they are going to uphold their right to party and even tho some employers, like Publix, require masks for employees the out is that they don’t require them to be worn properly. I am sick of watching employees, even managers, walking around with their noses unmasked, or their nose and mouth unmasked, or even better, the mask dangling from one ear.

22 days ago

I’m sorry, but I see absolutely NO justification for pools being closed, especially if they are outdoors. People who are outside have a slim change of getting the virus unless they are in someone’s “space” for more than a few minutes. That’s not likely to happen in a pool. You can’t get the virus from touching or from the water (which is disinfected to the hilt). So I’m sorry, but it’s a stupid regulation and one that should be dispensed with. If I can be with the same people in WalMart, I can be with them in the pool. I don’t see any difference.

Kenneth Fuller
22 days ago
Reply to  Cindy

Yes, I agree the swimming pool should be OPEN. You will not get the Chinese Corona Virus from swimming in chlorinated water.

Steve Baker
21 days ago
Reply to  Cindy

Here are examples from US Government research into how long Coronavirus survives under various conditions. UV, warm temperatures, and high humidity hasten the destruction of virus particles.


Mike Schwab
22 days ago

People with Vitamin D levels over 30 ng / ml have 10% of the chance of hospitalization as compared to someone with levels under 20. 40% of light skinned Americans to 80% of dark skinned Americans are under 20. To get above 30 take 5,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 a day. Cost is under $10 a month. Also helps with seasonal flu, TB, and other respiratory infections. https://www.grassrootshealth.net/blog/first-data-published-covid-19-severity-vitamin-d-levels/

Also please use masks whenever within 6 feet of another person you aren’t isolating with.

Charles W.
22 days ago

This is the first time I’ve seen this publication and I think I might peruse it a bit more to see if there is information valuable to me. Now to Mr. Zipser. He is entitled to his opinion and as the owner of his park he is entitled to promulgate policies concerning behaviors in his park, to a certain point. But it is clear that he has taken it upon himself to be the closet enforcer of his state’s laws concerning this pandemic. And as stated above, should the state ease restrictions in violation of Mr. Zipser’ personal comfort level, he’ll become the enforcer of his own private laws.

If his governor’s social distancing and mask orders are law, Mr. Zipser has the right and responsibility to arrest those persons in violation for a misdemeanor. He should arrest all persons that don’t wear a mask, that enter the store without distancing, that allow their children to play with other children.

He has the right and responsibility to detain them and then call the local police or sheriff’s office to come and take custody of them.

Rather than hide his true feelings in a publication that most people visiting his park will never see, he should print his two letters and post them at the entrance to his store.

To the editors of RV Travel, I find it a little disingenuous that you publish a second letter from this gentleman, after having removed all public comment from his first. It is obvious that he can’t separate his political leanings from the operation if his business and that he wants to be the arbiter of when the pandemic is over. You should have read his submission and contacted him about deleting non-essential portions of the letter, “resurgence of anger and anguish about systemic racism, finding a campground where the staff would ignore his non-compliance, pugnacious monthly campers, who month after month ignores the bold MUST WEAR MASK sign on our door, massive Trump campaign rally is scheduled for Tulsa, reopening at a steady clip in recent weeks, apparently without regard for what’s actually happening on the ground in terms of coronavirus spread, no surprise, those same states are now seeing an upswing in infections and deaths. Cognitive dissonance is rampant, They jostle each other in the store and passing each other, and see the apparent disregard their neighbors have for the rules we patiently spell out, I doubt we’ll be stepping with it. I’m pretty sure our swimming pool will remain closed for the year — and we’ll be happy to refer campers who want one to another local campground. I’m pretty sure we’ll continue to limit groups far below the 50 now allowed under phase two — and several hundred under phase three. We’re going to continue to insist on face coverings in our office and store, continue to insist on good pandemic etiquette because the pandemic hasn’t gone away, regardless of what our governor might conclude, He was wrong then, and in my view will be wrong now, But my sense is that we’re looking at many, many months before we get to anything that resembles “normal.” I’m not sure how reading a liberal manifesto has assisted me in learning how to comport myself in his park.

Again, he’s entitled to his opinion but as we used to say, “Arrest them or get off the pot.”

22 days ago
Reply to  Charles W.

He is free, as the business owner, to make any rules he wants. No Shirt, no Shoes, No Service. Folks didn’t like that, when it first came out, many years ago. He may have one set of rules for the office, requiring shoes and shirt, and a different set of rules, for the snack bar, which may be adjacent to the pool.

I live near Sturgis, the big motorcyle rally town. Bars, Casinos, and Restaurants in the area post signs banning gang colors. Yeah, we get some gang activity during the rally. Usually it is minor. And while kicking bikers out of your bar can be worrisome, the posted rules give the owner the backing to refuse service to anyone who choses to ignore them.

Any business owner is free to make any non-descriminitory rule they want. Some stores ban dogs, other stores welcome them. Some fancy restaurants ban flip flops and other casual clothes. They have a dress code.

The business owner is the OWNER. He makes the rules. When quiet time starts. When Checkout time is enforced. How many dogs/cars/people they can have at each site. These are rules, not laws. You don’t like the rules, you are free to spend your money elsewhere. This is not a jail, there is nothing preventing you from leaving, if you don’t like the rules. Others may choose to stay, because they feel the rules are beneficial to them. To each his own. Woohoo…..

Captn John
22 days ago
Reply to  Linda

Get a grip on reality. There are NO LAWS requiring masks. Governors do not have the power to make laws, legislators do. If you are so fearful and must wear a mask stay at home in your basement like the comedian on TV. I’ll not visit this CG now, not ever as we now know his feelings from his 1st (deleted) post as well. It will be a long time before I’ll visit VA or PA. I’m 72, COPD, and diabetic. I’ve worn a mask twice when getting a haircut. If you don’t like the fact I’m not living in fear and wearing a mask stay the hell away from me.

G. Love
15 days ago
Reply to  Linda

thank you for saying this and now I don”t have to wright the same thing. A political rant that should have never been posted unless you post anything and everything.

22 days ago
Reply to  Charles W.

Wow. Really–just “wow.”

Gene Bjerke
22 days ago
Reply to  Charles W.

When Northrum set the rules for each phase, he gave enforcement powers to the health department, not the police.

10 days ago
Reply to  Charles W.

Charles W. I can understand your viewpoint, but bottom line is it is his business and lively-hood. He has the right by law to lay down rules (not laws) for that business. If a potential customer does not like those rules, they have the right to go elsewhere. If it were my camp ground, I would have a large sign erected by the drive “IF YOU DON’T LIKE WEARING A MASK WHEN ASKED, DO NOT STOP! THANK YOU MANAGEMENT.”

22 days ago

There are lots of comments from folks on the East Coast….I thought I would contribute from a different part of the country. I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This is Western South Dakota, near the Wyoming state line, along I-90. (FYI, if you ever drive this part of the country, I-90 is FAR safer than I-80. Far less truck traffic, far fewer multi-vehicle crashes.)

The Black Hills are home to Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower (Just across the state line, in WYO), and the big Sturgis motorcycle rally. It also has big time Casinos in Deadwood (where Wild Bill Hicock met his demise), WInd Cave National Park, Custer State Park (Super Cool), and LOTS of other touristy places.

It is in a red state, with a Republican governor, and very few Covid rules. Restaurants are open, Casinos are open, Grocery stores only require employees to wear masks, not customers. As an employee of one of those, I am afraid of the customers.

Trump is coming to Mt Rushmore on July 3rd, the governor will be there too. Over 100k people put in requests for the 7500 tickets to the event. It has been announced that there will be NO social distancing efforts. There will be fireworks, for the first time in over 10 years, even though they are “ill-advised” by the experts, due to fire danger in the rough forests around Mt. Rushmore.

There is also a large PRCA Rodeo, Carnival, and Parade, for many days, in early July, in Belle Fourche. Rodeos in WYO, and MT have been cancelled, so the turnout is expected to be high here, since rodeo-ers have few other options this summer. The Sturgis motorcycle rally is still on, in early August, with large concerts and 300k bikers expected to show up in this small town. It is an anniversary year,the 80th Rally.

Locals are scared. The many campgrounds in our area are all ready full, due to the few restrictions here, compared to other states. Our local hospitals have growing populations of Covid patients, and while Covid patients are few in the smaller towns, the larger towns, like Rapid CIty, have consistent growth in cases. … Camping in the Time of Covid. Beware.

22 days ago
Reply to  Linda

I’m so sorry you will have to deal with these crowds. I personally would have to leave. I couldn’t emotionally handle that many peoples being so stupid.

22 days ago
Reply to  Ellen

I have thought about it. I am not sure where I would go. I have a house, with a fenced back yard. The yard is my oasis this year. They have had positive cases in nearby stores, but not with employees at my store, yet….I am fully prepared to go on LOA if that happens. I feel it is only a matter of time. I mostly deal with product, not customers, though, in my position. But I am scared. Everyone is scared. I was gonna buy an RV, that’s why I joined this group. I may go LOA and use the RV money for bills, for a while. And next year, there may be LOTS of used RVs available, from folks who only wanted to use them for this one summer….we shall see………

Rita Parisi
22 days ago
Reply to  Linda

Take care Linda and be well.

Steve Baker
21 days ago
Reply to  Linda

If the hospitalization rate for COVID is increasing, be worried. The increased number of cases is meaningless. Why? Because there’s a large asymptomatic positive group that has been there all along but has gone unmeasured until recently when test kit availability has mushroomed to the point that widespread community surveillance became possible.

To get a real handle on whether or not COVID is surging, we need to look for a resurgence in hospitalizations. To the extent that’s not happening, I would assert that the increase in positive cases is mostly due to increases in community surveillance enabled by a huge increase in testing capacity that is finding the previously “hidden” asymptomatic COVID population. .

10 days ago
Reply to  Steve Baker

You are entitled to your opinion, of course. But it is a flawed one. As an RN I can tell you that hospitalizations ARE surging. All that I can say is that I hope you stay lucky and keep well. Otherwise, my coworkers and I will see you at the hospital when you get here……