Every newspaper and newscast is chock full of major COVID-19 stories. These are all important and demand our attention. However, there are stories that are smaller and exist on the fringes of virus news. They may not be critically important, but they are interesting in their own way.


For example, with the cavalcade of COVID-19 headlines worldwide, there are some people who know nothing about what's going on – by design. “A former nuclear submarine commander with the French Navy says strategic nuclear submarine crews are probably unaware the pandemic is taking place. Thanks to nuclear weapons aboard nuclear-missile carrying submarines...Crews currently on patrol would be completely unaware of the viruses’ spread. The ships typically spend 60-70 days at a stretch and are kept uninformed of such events in order to keep them focused on the nuclear deterrence mission.”

According to Popular Mechanics magazine, this is a common strategy for most countries deploying nuclear-missile subs. Won't those crews be surprised when they surface? (


On the other hand, there is one retired service member who knows exactly what's going on. “Despite coronavirus restrictions, a 104-year-old woman, who served in the Marines in World War II, got to celebrate her birthday. Ruth Gallivan is believed to be the oldest living female Marine west of the Mississippi.”


Ruth joined the Marines in 1946. “After boot camp, Ruth was assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar. There was no women’s barracks at the time, so she was tasked with establishing them.” Ruth is the definition of the term “hero.” (


If Ruth had wanted snacks at her birthday party there's a guy in Mexico who has invented a unique delivery system. “ One man in Mexico though might have found the best and cutest way to get food from his local market. Antonio Muñoz was really craving Cheetos, but not wanting to interrupt his self-isolation, he decided to have his best friend get them - his pet Chihuahua, Chokis.”

He sent Chokis to a store across the street with money and a note tucked into the dog's collar: "Hello Mr. Shopkeeper. Please sell my dog some Cheetos, the orange kind, not the red ones, they're too hot. She has $20 attached to her collar. Your front neighbor." Chokis was up to the task, returning home with a bag of Cheetos and no cheese dust on her paws. (



Delivering a bag of Cheetos is a Chihuahua-size job, but a bigger job needs a bigger dog, like a golden retriever. In Colorado, Renee Hellman, 71 years-old, was isolated in her home because she's particularly vulnerable to the virus because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Hellman’s neighbor wanted to do something to help her senior neighbor in quarantine.


So, Karen Eveleth taught her pet dog Sundance how to deliver groceries. Sundance moves the grocery bags, one at a time, from Eveleth's driveway to Hellman's door. “Not only has Sundance been delivering food and meals to Hellman, he has also been retrieving her mail from the postal box. With Sundance’s daily visits to cheer her up in isolation, Hellman is calling the golden retriever her humble hero.” (


As isolation time marches on, you may be looking for something to do that is totally outside of the norm, could involve the whole family, is almost a lost form of communication and combines history with math and science. Of course, I am suggesting you learn Morse code.


Say what? “A 'With Google' website and app have made it extraordinarily easy to learn Morse code—and some users have claimed they have picked up the skill in as little as fifteen minutes. The app uses visual cues to associate each letter with its respective sound and code—and it’s totally free to use.”


Of course, the first thing you may have to do is explain to the whippersnappers in the group what the heck Morse code is, but this is a good way to trick them into doing some educational research. Messaging with no talking, who could have imagined such a thing? ( and


For those who want something to do that will help those in the front line of the fight against COVID-19, there's a pretty cool way to do that, particularly if you happen to be a skier. “Goggles for Docs is an effort to get used or new ski goggles into the hands of healthcare workers who currently have no eye protection as they treat COVID-19 patients.”


It's really easy to participate. Go onto the website and select a state. “You will be directed to a Google sheet for the specific state you choose. You can click through tabs at the bottom for each hospital in that state that has opted in.” When you see the list of hospitals, you'll see if “the percentage of the required goggles has exceeded 100 percent.” If it has, you can pick another hospital. Five hospitals in Michigan are currently listed, including Munson Cadillac. All told, there have been about 20,000 goggles donated nationwide so far. Go to for all the details.  



Finally, if you have been watching the news you probably recognize Dr. Anthony Fauci. “He has become America’s voice of reason as one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.” 


Now you can have a likeness of Dr. Fauci for your very own. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is offering the first bobblehead of Dr. Fauci. It stands seven inches tall and costs $25. You can pre-order one at:


Buying one of these also helps healthcare workers. “The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum will be donating $5 from every Dr. Fauci Bobblehead sold to the American Hospital Association in support of the 100 Million Mask Challenge.” 



Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and