COVID-19 continues to impact daily life

By Denise Bonsack, Publisher

The COVID-19 virus is making its way across the planet, chalking up some staggering numbers and statistics.

As of Monday, March 23, in Minnesota, there were 235 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number jumped up 66 cases from yesterday. Unfortunately, it also claimed its first victim in Minnesota over the weekend. 

While the map  on the Minnesota Department of Health’s website indicates that there’s only one case in Renville County, and none in Sibley or Redwood Counties, keep in mind that a) the map and the numbers reflect only the confirmed cases; and b) those that are able to manage their symptoms at home are encouraged to do so, and to not get tested. This means we have no real idea of what the numbers are, or where the nearest cases might be.

Late last week, Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order to temporarily close down all hair and nail salons. Restaurants and bars are only allowed to be open for carry out. Everyone is being asked to stay home as much as possible, and, when not possible, maintain a six-foot distance from other people.

In a conference call with the media on Monday afternoon, Governor Walz indicated that he too is self-quarantining at home because he was exposed to someone over the weekend who tested positive. The Lt. Governor of Minnesota is mourning the loss of her brother, who died from COVID-19 in Tennessee. Walz estimated that between 40 and 80 percent of Minnesotans will be infected with the virus at some point. Most of them will recover without needing hospitalization. The social distancing efforts and asking people to stay home are an effort to make sure those that do need hospitalization can get it when the time comes. 

Governors of other states are issuing ‘shelter in place’ orders, but Walz says at this point he’s not ready to do that just yet. That’s not to say it won’t come tomorrow or the next day, but today, with the data they currently have, it appears that people are working to keep the virus contained.

The most amazing aspect of this whole experience is how resilient and resourceful people are being, and how they are stepping up to help in whatever way they can. 

The government is doing what they can to help the people of Minnesota to weather the storm. Executive orders from the Governor suspend evictions, provide relief for small businesses and contractors, make unemployment available for employees who have been displaced, and push the income tax filing and payment due date out to mid-July. 

Teachers and students are working together to make the most of distance learning opportunities, and parents are stepping up to fill the gaps that distance learning can’t cover. 

Breweries and distilleries across the state have changed their recipes and shifted their processes to make alcohol-based hand sanitizer, rather than their usual product, and people are pulling out sewing machines to make cloth masks and scrubs for medical personnel. 

As a society, we will be forever changed by this experience, but each of us has the opportunity to decide whether that change will be for the better. 

For more information on resources available, or how you can help, see stories throughout this edition.

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