Steve Eighinger

'Sweet Caroline' takes on new meaning in the time of COVID

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 7, 2020 12:01 am

Social distancing and all that surrounds it in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted one tavern to inject a little humor into the state of the world.

An Irish pub has "banned" patrons from singing the Neil Diamond favorite "Sweet Caroline." It's a tongue-in-cheek effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Murphy's Irish Bar on Corralejo in Spain's Canary Islands has posted instructions directing customers to avoid the popular sing-along tune at all costs "due to COVID-19."

"There will be no: touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you," reads a chalkboard with the lyrics from the 1969 hit song.

Not only do the lyrics actively promote touching, the song is also popular among drunken bar patrons, creating "the perfect storm for a coronavirus super-spreading event," according to one media report.

The World Health Organization recently expanded its coronavirus guidance to include the possibility of airborne transmission, in which the virus could be spread through droplets that linger in the air.

The update came after an open letter signed by more than 200 scientists pressed the agency to acknowledge the potential role that droplets, or aerosols, play in airborne transmissions among people in crowded, indoor settings for prolonged periods of time.

Such as an Irish pub in the Canary Islands.

What's in a name?

I'm sure I have not been the only one watching the damage inflicted by Hurricane Isaias this week along the East Coast.

And I'm also pretty certain I wasn't the only one wondering how to say the name of that hurricane, and what that moniker might mean.

Reporters Robin Webb and Karina Elwood of the South Florida Sun Sentinel had the same questions.

"Isaias, the name of the second hurricane of the 2020 storm season, has left many wondering just that," the reporters wrote.

Well, here's the scoop:

Isaias, pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs, is the Spanish-Latin derivative of the Hebrew name Isaiah, a prophet in the Old Testament tied to both Jewish and Christian religions.

According to a popular name origin website, Isaias means "God is my salvation." (In 2018, Isaias ranked No. 510 among baby names in the United States, according to Social Security data. It was at peak popularity in 2009 when it ranked No. 481, which represented 0.027% of total male births that year."

"Storms are named by the World Meteorological Organization through a strict procedure that uses a list of male and female names which are used on a six-year rotation," Webb and Elwood reported. "The names of deadly and costly storms are retired from being used" again.

For those wondering, after Isaias, the next three names for 2020 hurricanes are Josephine, Kyle and Laura.

That far?

I may have to start keeping closer track of how much I walk. According to, the average moderately active person takes about 7,500 steps per day. If you maintain that daily average and live until 80, you'll have walked about 216,262,500 steps in your lifetime.

The math shows the average person with an average stride -- and living until 80 -- will walk a distance of about 110,000 miles.

In case you're wondering, that is the equivalent of walking about five times around the Earth, right on the equator.

Not sure, but I think I'm probably going to fall a little short of that.