By Mike Austreng, Editor
We’ve all spent months listening to the news that has been dominated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). For the first several weeks there were reports about China and many of us were probably stunned to see video of nearly empty street there – the few people out in public seemed to be wearing masks to protect themselves. Reports on the number dying soared. Next came Italy where the number of deaths seemed higher than any other regions.
It started to get closer to home when cruise ships with American citizens were quarantined for two weeks because people on those ships tested positive for COVID-19. Today there are at least two ships sitting off the coast of Florida with people who have tested positive and a few who have died.
We hear reports of elderly care facilities (nursing homes, assisted living, etc.) where workers and residents are testing positive – mortality rate among those elderly residents is high.
As much as we all need to keep informed about this virus and how it is spreading across our nation, it’s become very depressing to watch the news.
Thankfully news stations are making some attempts to find more positive things to report. Some examples are how people are putting figures of hearts in their windows; people visiting there grandparents from outside nursing homes; people forming parade lines in cars to wish youngsters a happy birthday.
Then there are the reports of people not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones as they pass away (because of COVID- 19 or not). People who can’t have visitors in the hospital while they recover.
This is proving to be a very difficult time for all of us, businesses, families, employees. It’s not fun sitting and worrying whether this will hit our own town, or our own home, but how about the nurses and doctors (and other healthcare workers) who are constantly exposed to the virus and worry about bringing it home to their families?
How about the people who have to go to work at grocery stores, gas stations, and other essential businesses – not that they aren’t appreciating the fact that they have a job, but they too are risking being exposed because none of us know where other people have been and who they’ve been in contact with. For the most part people are respecting the “Stay at home and social distancing” rules, but not everyone.
In our lifetime we’ve never heard unemployment numbers as high as they reached last week. It was reported on Friday morning that there are 6.6 million people without jobs in the United States. The government has done things to help by not requiring a waiting period for unemployment benefits. Most of us should see a stimulus check or deposit in the next couple weeks.
That money will be helpful, but only if this pandemic is over soon. The latest news tells us bars and restaurants will remain closed through April – that may change as we go through the month. We’ve seen reports that the peak of infected people in Minnesota may not happen until May or even June.
It’s really easy to be distracted and worried about this virus, but it can also be a time we can all be thankful for our families and those we are close to. We can also be thankful that we have jobs – for those of us who have jobs.
Hopefully this pandemic will run its course quicker than all the experts are predicting and those not working will be able to return to their jobs and things will get back to normal.
Everyone can hope that all of us learn things from this pandemic and we’re better prepared if something like this ever happens again.