As non-essential businesses start to open, it's essential we all stay smart & stay safe.

Prompted by this Axios article.

Three vaccines. All deemed safe and effective. All extremely good at preventing serious disease. And isn't that what really matters?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Johnson & Johnson is known and trusted for its consumer products and first aid supplies … and what could be more important to consumers than a proven-effective COVID-19 vaccine?!

It was a huge relief when the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines received emergency use approval, and now it's exciting that we have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a third option. Especially as it's a one-shot vaccine and, unlike the others, can be stored in a regular refrigerator, so it's much easier to use and distribute. Of course, there are differences between the three vaccines – not only the science behind them but also the timing of the testing, so it's difficult to do a straight comparison. But that doesn't stop people from trying, and as Black told Red,

OK, I am a numbers person but, in this case, it is not that simple. And even though people like to quote the efficacy rate of preventing COVID-19 (all of the vaccines are significantly higher than what the CDC initially hoped for) … the focus should be on the fact all three vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.

Red really didn't want to get into the science and the numbers, but felt compelled to add,

From the very start, my biggest concern wasn't the mild cases – it was the severe ones. The ones resulting in hospitalization or death. I just want the coronavirus to end up being like the flu, in that you can get a flu shot. And yes, I know, it doesn't mean you won't get it; it just means that it will most likely be a much milder case if you do.
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This definitely falls under truth is stranger than fiction. And thinking about it cracks us up.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's one of those stories where you don't know if it's true or false, but either way, the puns just keep on coming with no end in sight.

It all started when Red received an email from Black and the subject line was "Bear Butt". Since Red had been cooking a lot of pork butt roasts lately (in her new, and now favorite, Dutch oven) she initially wondered if Black was sending her something about some sort of new exotic meat. But then realized Black thinks "cook" is one of those four-letter words you shouldn't use.

But then she opened the email and clicked on the link to Alaska woman using outhouse attacked by bear, from below, and was first horrified and then, realizing it had a "happy ending", knew that it was going to be a source of bathroom humor and plenty of play on words.

Black couldn't resist referencing the comment from the women's brother who said, "I opened the toilet seat and there's just a bear face just right there at the level of the toilet seat, just looking right back up through the hole, right at me." You know his immediate reaction was, "Hole-y shit!"

Red wondered what did the bear make of the situation. Was it as scared as the woman, or did it barely make its radar? And will they ever get to the bottom of how this happened? We know that we'd all like the bare (or it is bear) facts and nothing else.

Sorry, it's just a very punny story … and continues to crack us up.

Even if you observed a moment of silence on Monday for those who died in this tragedy – do it again today before the flags are raised at sunset.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's a grim milestone, 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 – alone, scared, typically away from family and friends with their only comfort coming from healthcare workers covered by protective gear.

Yes, it's a staggering number, half a million, but it's made even more shocking when you realize it's more than the number of American soldiers who died in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War -- combined. And, if that isn't enough, think about the fact this "war" has only been raging for about a year. It's almost incomprehensible – 500,000 lives lost in a single year. And at what point does the number start getting so big that we become numb?

Until you hear on the news tributes to individuals or you read heart-wrenching articles with images that capture the loss. Or, you personally mourn the loss of family members and friends. Because it's not just the 500,000 who died – it's the ripple effect of these lives lost. And it's important that we all remember,

It isn't about charts and graphs. It isn't about comparisons. It isn't even about what we should've done differently – or better. It's about losing loves ones. It's about lives lost. Full stop.