In a “normal world,” Ron Hall would be preparing for spending another brisk afternoon of being the public address announcer for the defending SoCon champion Chattanooga Mocs.
“If I am not mistaken, this weekend would be Mocs Softball at Frost Stadium and I would be there with my extended family, the Mocs softball team,” said Hall. “Behind the bleachers on the concourse, and building up the anticipation for the Lookouts Opening Night and the USA Softball game vs the Mocs.”
Unfortunately, the world is anything but normal nowadays.
As a 63-year-old man with heart disease and what described as the “beginning of congestive heart failure,” Hall has been as cautious as possible during the Pandemic and has been staying home as much as possible.
“I go out only when it is absolutely necessary,” said Hall. “I do have someone who can get groceries for me if I feel like it is absolutely necessary that I lock myself inside.”
When Hall goes shopping, he does everything in his power to avoid being in close proximity with people. Whenever he takes something off the shelf, he sanitizes it down with a Lysol wipe before placing it into his cart. When he gets home, he then cleans each item one more time before putting the food in his cupboard.
While he’s at home, Hall spends some of his time working from his laptop. When he’s not working, he makes it a point to talk to his children and keep up with how they are doing. And for entertainment, he watches television to pass the time. But to the surprise of some, the public address announcer’s TV schedule is not affected by the dearth of live sports.
“I watch a whole lot of television,” said Hall. “Contrary to popular opinion, I do not watch a whole lot of sports on television. I want to be there and working the game, and when I’m at home, I watch old movies. And I’m talking OLD movies from back in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.”
Hall also makes it a point to watch the Coronavirus Task Force press conference every day, and he is vocal on social media in regards to taking the pandemic seriously. It was on social media that he first saw respected medical officials such as Christopher Haddock warning people about how dangerous the virus is.
“When we were first getting hints and we were getting the news out of Washington State, my cousin who is a doctor in north Georgia started telling folks then “You need to take this seriously,” said Hall. “You saw all of these people say, 'Oh, it’s nothing worse than the flu,' and he was trying to get the word out that this is serious stuff. The first time he said that, I said I was going to pay really close attention to this.”
At several points during the interview, Hall expressed incredulity at how some people can still think the pandemic was “no big deal” even as society has slowly begun to shut down. He pointed out that many at-risk people do not appear so at first glance. He mentioned a teacher he knew that had gotten a kidney transplant. While the teacher appears to be a healthy forty-something, he is very at-risk if he gets the virus.
“I’m in disbelief more than anything that there are folks who are not taking it seriously,” said Hall. “For them, it may not be any more of a bother than a cold or a case of the flu. But there are a lot of folks who are at risk.”
“To me, the two most impressive people in all of this have been Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. They give it to you straight. If people will listen to those two, they’ll understand how serious this is. But there are still people who don’t believe them, even though we’ve seen the numbers increase in Hamilton County.”
He had nothing but praise for the leaders of Hamilton County, saying “Mayor Coppinger and Mayor Berke and the Hamilton County Health Department have done an outstanding job. The mayors have done a tremendous job getting out in front of this and telling people social distancing is our hope.”
While Hall feels horrible for the senior athletes who are missing out on their last year of collegiate athletics, he said the University and NCAA made the right choice in shutting down athletics.
“People started to change their attitude when the NBA said they were finished,” said Hall on the impact sports had on making people take the virus seriously. “By doing that, and then cancelling March Madness and then collectively shutting down the spring sports, it breaks my heart that I can’t be with the softball team. But the university has been doing a tremendous job in the way they’ve handled this.”
If you check Hall’s Facebook page, it is filled with quotes from medical experts warning people about the severity of COVID-19. Like so many people who have been asked if something similar has happened during their life, he said this pandemic is unlike anything he’s ever seen, even though he did draw a parallel to something that happened a century ago.
“My late father, he grew up during the polio scare and he developed polio,” said Hall. “I can’t imagine what that was like, developing polio during the 1920s, but I’ve never seen anything like this. There’s never been anything like this. There’s a lot of baby boomers still left, and we’re not ready to pack it up and leave yet.”
As he works from home, watches classic movies, and stays socially distant, Ron Hall remains optimistic for the future. He sees the current situation as temporary, and that in a few months, he will be in his favorite place in the world, doing what he loves.
“This is all going to pass, and I got a strange feeling that the country will be better off when it’s all said and done, because it’s going to show that we can all work together. And I know that sometime this summer, I’m going to be back behind the microphone at AT&T Field for the Lookouts. I am so looking forward to that.”