From The Guardian, a generally reliable enough website, this article:
“Denmark tightens lockdown in north over mink Covid outbreak”
As a headline writer myself, I respect the craft. Please continue:
“Twelve people infected so far with new strain against which vaccines may be ineffective”
That’s what we people doing online publishing call the “dek”; it means “deck.” It’s a subheading.
We also call the lead the “lede.” Don’t ask why, these things go back centuries. Do you want to know why windows in ships are always called “portholes” and “deck” means floor? Not really, no.
An outbreak among farmed mink of a mutant form of Covid-19 with the potential to be resistant to future vaccines has led to the Danish government bringing in tougher lockdown measures in parts of the country.
The measures were announced following the discovery of a new strain of the disease in animals bred for fur in the country’s northern regions.
Twelve people in the Jutland region have been diagnosed with infection with the new strain, and municipalities in northern Denmark will impose restrictions on residents’ movements between regions.”
Now, this is some fine newscraft! Let me break down how we do it in the sports world:
“Tigers 7, Twins 4: Bullpen blows lead, player also rips head off baby”
With the dek:
“In a surprising finish, the Twins lose a key division game with an unusual ‘twist.'”
See! That’s how it’s done! Ya hook ’em, ya reel ’em in. Child’s play, really. If you’ve practiced it enough.
Now, the gist of the article is about some new strain of coronavirus which blahblahblah — nobody really knows nothing about. But it has spread between minks. And humans have gotten it, which means it might have been mutated into something even scarier.
So 15 million minks are going to be killed.
Welcome to Loveable, Liberal Denmark
I do know northern Denmark a little. I attended a lovely wedding there. It was between two naval officers, appropriately held on a ship. During a smoke break, and they have those at Danish weddings, we noticed something in the far distance that looked like a ship on fire. It was difficult to be sure, but it very much looked like a very large ship on very much fire. Some watchers muttered, “That’s a bad omen.” Seagoing people are into omens.
Did it turn out, that was a fire? Yes it did! Did that marriage last? No, it spectacularly did not!
But they did go on a honeymoon, which meant one of their friends I’d never met provided me a ride to the airport. He was a farmer and spent the 90-minute drive complaining about how large-scale agricultural companies were squeezing out family farms. It was the kind of thing I’m inclined to sympathize with, so I listened.
He never mentioned mink farming.
Oh Yes: Danish Mink Farming Is a Thing
Denmark actually leads the world in mink production. For comparison, the pro-fur-farming website, Truth About Fur, says there are 268 mink farms in America, producing 2.7 million pelts a year.
The number of affected farms in Denmark? Well over 1000, raising 16 million minks a year. They are legally required to share information and innovation concepts with each other. (Obviously, in this instance, it didn’t work out too well.)
They actually have pretty decent regulations on preventing animal cruelty, but by no means are most Danes vegan. They consume insane amounts of pork, for instance; I’ve never stayed in a Danish home where bacon or chops or pork burgers or pork hotdogs aren’t served at least once daily, sometimes in combination. They all had pork liverwurst in the fridge as a midnight snack, too.
And, valid concerns about animal rights aside, I’ve eaten all these items in Danish homes, and they were all delicious. I’m a guest; it would be rude not to. Even if you only take a little bite to compliment the cook.
The End of Danish Mink? And the Best Bar in the World?
This mass slaughter will, no doubt, greatly hurt the Danish mink industry, even though worldwide demand is likely to continue. (Why wouldn’t it? Rich people spending on ridiculous luxury goods is recession-proof.) Most likely, if usual agricultural economics hold, the smallest farms will have to sell out to ones with greater cash reserves.
In a way, it’s very much like what my post-wedding airport driver was complaining about – the little farms losing out to bigger ones. He probably meant pork or potatoes farms (Danes also eat a lot of potatoes), but in this case, it’s mink. You don’t have to approve of fur farming to root for the little farmer. Or the littler minks.
How’s the naval ex-wife? (That’s who we knew of the couple.) She’s fine, still in the navy, and lives in this teensy Northern Denmark town with probably the best, most wonderful bar I’ve ever been to in my life. Picture “Cheers,” but with sailors, and a lot of people quietly smoking and reading. The grill is in the back for anyone who wants to use it.
That’s shut down because of a lockdown due to the mink farming crisis. That’s sad but maybe it’ll survive; Denmark is better at supporting small businesses than we are.
The COVID mink did not survive, however. But hey, at least this article wasn’t about the US election. A friend of mine I sent The Guardian story to actually responded, “Thanks for the distraction.”