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Feb 22, 2021

Minks in Trouble! They’re Contracting COVID-19!

This is no time to be reincarnated as a weasel (are you listening, Ted Cruz?)

By Ed Goldman

One of the worst cosmic jokes I can imagine would be to have died and then been reincarnated as a mink.

In addition to these adorable animals being exploited and murdered so they could be made into coats for Blackglama’s “What Becomes a Legend Most?” ad campaign in the 20th century (please see my February 8 column), news now comes that they’re contracting COVID.

Edgy Cartoon

“Make mine mink”

The New York Times reported late last month, “At least two American companies, as well as Russian researchers, are working on coronavirus vaccines for mink. The animals have grown sick and died in large numbers from the virus, WHICH THEY HAVE ALSO PASSED BACK TO PEOPLE IN MUTATED FORMS.” (The upper-casing is mine, using the Hysteria Default on my keyboard.)

I’m sure the reporter meant that the virus has been passed to people in “mutated forms,” not that it’s being passed only to mutated people. What a scare that’d be, though, if you happened to have three eyes, six legs and a fondness for wearing mink stoles. You’d be especially vulnerable.

“All members of the weasel family are susceptible to infection,” the article continues. A little later it says, “Scientists don’t know why mink in particular seem to get very sick, but the crowded, caged conditions on farms may result in exposure to higher amounts of virus.”

This sounds alarmingly similar to what goes on in American prisons, whether publicly or privately owned. And just as an aside, wouldn’t it be weird to have shares of a private prison in your portfolio? What would the annual call from  your wealth manager be like?

WEALTH MANAGER: Well, we did all right this year in futures, commodities and REITs, but—

ME: What about my real estate investment trusts? How’d they do? Are you hiding something from me? 

WEALTH MANAGER: That’s what REITs are, Mr. Goldman. I’m sorry, I don’t know why I use jargon with you.

ME: Oh, that’s okay, I was just—

WEALTH MANAGER: In truth, I don’t know why you even need a wealth manager since we both know you have no perceptible wealth.

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ME: Then why’d you ever accept me as a client?

WEALTH MANAGER: Because when you first called, you told our receptionist your name, then said, “as in Goldman Sachs.”

ME (Blushing): Oh. I sometimes do that because people think I’m saying Holman or Gorman.

WEALTH MANAGER: In any event, Mr. Holman—

ME: Goldman. As in—

WEALTH MANAGER: Whatever. In any event, I’m afraid that earnings in your private-prison shares fell this past year, owing to the fact that in a number of states, prisoners were being let out waaaay ahead of their release or parole dates to prevent them from contracting COVID-19. The fewer prisoners, the fewer payments and reimbursements from government.

ME: I guess that’s sort of humane.

WEALTH MANAGER: I have a cousin who’s a warden at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi. To make ends meet, he’s taking in floors to wash.

ME: Undeniably tragic. How’s it going?

WEALTH MANAGER: He still makes more money than you do.

So let’s just say that in a previous lifetime, you were just a regular guy who hoped when he died that reincarnation would be real, mainly so you could pay off your Mastercard bill. It had grown so high that even the required minimum payment was more than what you earned in a year, including the good-attendance bonus and cash equivalent of your Employee of the Month gift card.

You die. Then, all of a sudden, you’re reborn as a mink. Your options are the following:

  • Be fattened and killed so you and a bunch of your brethren can adorn the neck of the society matron who donated a new wing to the town’s natural-history museum. Ironically, that new wing will contain an exhibit celebrating mammals, of which you are one; or
  • Be executed along with your brethren to contain the virus you picked up through no fault of your own, just from hanging around with your ferret and weasel pals during Happy Hour at the mink-farm bar, Ermine Trouble.
The good news is that scientists hope to have a vaccine developed sometime this spring. My research shows that the average life span of a mink is 10 years but less than a third of that in the wild. I think this may need some updating.

If I were reincarnated as a mink, I think I’d rather take my chances trying to survive in the great outdoors instead of in a testing lab. Unless the lab paid off my Mastercard bill, natch.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).