December 5, 2023

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Clever pandemic Halloween decoration promotes face masks

Clever pandemic Halloween decoration promotes face masks

Kristi K. Higgins
| The Progress-Index

CHESTER – Drawing on his family’s frightening experience, a local man crafts a unique, scary Halloween decoration.

Robert Linkous,who likes to decorate for the eve of All Saints’ Day, thought of a clever idea to reflect the time in which we live.

“I had this round holly bush and thought lights and red ornaments would be a scary decoration for 2020,” said Robert.

Robert linked three red Solo cups together to form which look like holly berries and placed them sporadically around the bush. His goal was to resemble the colorful 3D coronavirus germ image which has spread around the world just like the virus itself.

According to the CDC website, the illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by Alissa Eckert, MSMI, and Dan Higgins, MAMS at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. 

The Solo cups were used to replicate the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically.

Several neighbors inquired about the decorated bush.

“People passing by would say, ‘That’s kind of neat. What is it?’” said Wendy.

“I had it just like that for a couple of weeks and then placed a mask on it which really generated attention,” said Robert.

Neighbor Robin Pruett noticed the decorated bush but did not understand what the cups were all about until the mask was added.

No stranger to the fear of germs, Robert shared with me why he opted to create the giant germ in his front yard for all to see.

“Last year, my wife finished up cancer treatments in February,” shared Robert Linkous. “As part of trying to keep from bringing germs into the house, we were already practicing social distancing and taking necessary precautions when the pandemic hit.”

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Coronavirus Image Information: What the Coronavirus Image You’ve Seen a Million Times Really Shows

Wendy Linkous of Chester bravely battled and conquered two cancers: breast and ovarian.

“When COVID hit, we added a mask, but it really feels the same as to what we were already doing,” said Robert. “We had all of 2019 to practice.”

“I’ve seen it online being said ‘dealing with COVID-19 is like dealing with cancer’,” added Robert. “It’s so true.”

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Living with cancer conditioned the Linkous family for pandemic life.

“We were already prepared for the pandemic,” said Wendy. “Our lifestyle didn’t change once the pandemic hit. We just went back to our chemo schedule.

“Robert started using the extra bathroom and showering once he returned home,” said Wendy. “He was the only one leaving the house and getting exposure.”

Quarantine is a good thing.

“I’m lucky enough I’ve been working from home since March,” said Wendy. “We have one in high school and one in college, and they’ve been home also since schools went virtual in March.

“Neither one of them wants to go out and expose me to the virus,” added Wendy. “They’re scared and don’t want to lose either of their parents.”

With a history of cancer in her family, Wendy was diligent about getting regular screenings.

“They detected breast cancer, but thankfully it was only at stage 0,” shared Wendy. “Being proactive, I went to have a hysterectomy and already had stage 3 ovarian cancer.”

After six rounds of chemotherapy, Wendy is disease-free.

Robert’s true-to-life face mask is making a difference.

“Once I saw the mask, I knew right away it represented the virus,” said cancer survivor Pruett. “I think it’s a great way to bring awareness to the importance of wearing a mask so as not to contract the virus or spread it to others.”

“I was really looking forward to putting 2019 behind me, and then, 2020 just kind of laughed in my face,” said Wendy.

You can reach reporter Kristi K. Higgins at [email protected]. Follow her @KHiggins_PI.

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