Payson High vehicle graduation ceremony 01

Graduating senior Savanah Higley and her mother, Candi, clap at the end of Payson High School’s drive-in graduation ceremony Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Political bias and double standards among our nation’s “reporters” is growing increasingly problematic. It’s embarrassing. Clean up your newsrooms.

To the leadership and residents of southern Utah. After actively ignoring COVID-19 guidelines, a five-county region in the southwestern portion of the state is reporting a numbingly predictable increase in cases about which state officials are now providing warnings. Somebody hand me my mop so I we can clear this drool from the floor.

Has anyone noticed that gum doesn’t have flavor anymore? Has coronavirus caused a mint flavor shortage? Somebody get on this, stat. My taste buds are bored.

To the COVID-19 situation being well enough in Utah that it allowed Gov. Gary Herbert to move the state to the yellow low-risk phase. As such, we’re looking forward to a youth baseball tournament this holiday weekend — while still socially distancing from other families and fans. Now, before anyone goes bonkers, yes, there are safety protocols a plenty enacted to ensure an abundance of caution. But it will be good, once again, to hear the ump’s bellow of “Play ball!” — signaling the return of the boys of summer.

(Mostly) to the 10-part documentary “The Last Dance” — not necessarily for an entirely accurate portrayal of the facts surrounding Michael Jordan’s career and his final season with the Chicago Bulls. Indeed, several former teammates have stepped forward to disagree with how they were portrayed in the series. But for pure intrigue and entertainment, “The Last Dance” was a fantastic watch. Concluding episodes 9 and 10, which aired Sunday, turned the focus to the Bulls’ two NBA Finals series with the Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998, resurrecting both the best and worst of times for local professional basketball fans. It seems laughable to suggest that Jordan’s infamous “flu game” was the result of a poisoned pizza (especially when local sports talk radio somehow tracked down the guy who made and delivered the pizza and he turned out to be a huge Jordan/Bulls fan) and it was disappointing that the 1998 Game 6 recap did not mention at all the five-point swing that favored the Bulls in botched shot-clock calls. (For heaven’s sake, at least show Dick Bavetta’s horrendous wave-off of a Howard Eisley 3 in the first half, that has to be the most egregious missed shot-clock call in NBA history.) But all in all, one simply must tip their hat to the on-court greatness that was Michael Jordan.

To high schools around the county for figuring out a way to give seniors a graduation ceremony while still adhering to pretty restrictive COVID safety rules. Whoever came up with the drive-thru diploma idea was brilliant. Not only were the senior classes of 2020 given the chance to be recognized, but they were given such a unique, special ceremony I’m sure many will look back on fondly. It’ll be a fun story to tell kids and grandkids in the future!

To Utah County hotlines and officials seeing a spike in mental wellness calls during the pandemic. The top three types of mental wellness calls they’ve received all have to do with suicide. Each individual is experiencing this pandemic situation differently, and some are worse off than others. Just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be keeping an eye out on our family and friends for signs of mental wellness decline or even suicidal thoughts. If you or anyone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please, please take action by calling the free Utah Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.

To Utah Valley’s high school graduating Class of 2020, who have dealt with dramatic challenges and survived. The graduations this year have had to be different as well but the creativity and adaptiveness has been inspiring.

To taking steps closer to the return of sports. Fans have missed the diversion that the competitions provide, and it will be thrilling to watch basketball, baseball and hopefully football once again.

To residents who continue to social distance and wear face masks in public as the state and county transitions through getting back to Gov. Herbert’s green or normalcy phase. While the yellow low-risk phase most likely will be with us through the summer or beyond, getting out and about while using precautions will allow residents to get back to work, play and worship as they would like to. Keep on keepin’ on. We also give two thumbs up to some of those creative and colorful face masks we’ve been seeing.

To area cities and organizations that are still finding ways to celebrate Memorial Day in a year full of interesting memories. We salute the men and women on the front lines of all our many wars to those first responders and medical personnel who have died from the very virus they were protecting others from. This Monday will be a much more solemn day of reflection as we count our blessings and say thank you to heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life.

To local media outlets teaming up to call on Utah County to release the names of two businesses accused of ignoring COVID-19 guidelines. Despite assertions from state and county health department officials that there is no public interest in knowing the names of the businesses since they aren’t public-facing, this is absolutely not the case. These businesses employ members of the public and interact with different businesses through business transactions. The public interest in knowing which businesses have or haven’t followed COVID-19 guidelines should far outweigh any right to privacy that these businesses have.

To the news of the passing of 95-year-old Howard Nielson, a former 3rd District Congressman and state legislator. In addition to having several successful stints in state and federal politics, Nielson founded Brigham Young University’s Department of Statistics and was widely recognized as being a mathematical genius. Nielson’s legacy should inspire all of us to be our best selves, hone our individual talents and serve our communities.

The Utah Transit Authority is celebrating its employees by having drivers dress up as superheroes and feeding them free lunches. Not only is this a great opportunity to outwardly show off unsung frontline heroes, but it is also the perfect pick-me-up for adults and children using public transit. With all of the stress, anxiety and fear that the pandemic has created, it’s nice to enjoy the slightest departure from reality while celebrating the sacrifices UTA employees have made to keep public transit moving.

Law enforcement departments are receiving more domestic violence and mental wellness calls since the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, while child abuse reports are down, officials believe this is because of the limited interactions people are having each day, making it easier to hide abuse and neglect. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic crisis can be stressful in a plethora of different ways, but it’s important, now more than ever, that we check in with our loved ones. Don’t wait for them to reach out; take the first step.