Have you ever watched a movie where it seems like its coming to the end of the story- everything is working out perfectly – but you realize there’s 45 minutes left so you know it won’t work out perfectly (at least not yet)? That’s how I feel these days as the Delta variant sweeps across the U.S., forcing us to undergo more restrictions once again. Just when we thought we were ready to “get back to normal.”
There is also a sense of déjà vu from spring 2020, where very quickly our society shifted from COVID-19 being a story on the news (just another virus) to the biggest story of the world where we all had to dramatically change our daily lives. Many organizations were preparing to bring everyone back to the office after Labor Day, but now we all fear what the case count will be as time goes on and assume that date will get pushed back- similar to how often the return date moved in 2020 until it was changed to “at home indefinitely.”
Places that are going back around Labor Day in some capacity are schools. Many are mandating vaccines for students as well as masks, with some offering distance learning for families and students not comfortable with in-person.
Another place coming back is the Minnesota State Fair. While this belongs to all of Minnesota, it is a much more direct relationship to our community as the fairgrounds are a quick bus ride away. Unlike last year where many of the plans were not yet finalized, making changes to the fair this year (and so late) certainly would throw a bigger wrench.
A recent report by the Minnesota Department of Health states that 85% of new cases are due to the Delta variant. While vaccinated people can still get the virus, the number is comparatively very small and symptoms are usually less severe.
On an optimistic note, Minnesota is doing better than most states with vaccination rates. At the time of my writing, we are tied for 15th with 53% of the total population fully vaccinated. Minnesota also has outperformed all of its neighboring states by at least two percentage points (and 13% higher than North Dakota). According to the Minnesota Department of Health, as of Aug. 3 there were 69.2% of eligible Minnesotans with at least one dose (Minnesotans 16+). Vaccines for those under 16 are still under trial, but would be a big difference maker in the total population numbers.
Embrace yourself for more restrictions. Hopefully you didn’t have a mask burning party earlier this year, as masks are required once again in more places. But one thing that remains true since the beginning of the pandemic is to be safe. Find ways to live your life and do your work (and support locally-owned businesses!) while being responsible for yourself and to others. We see that the COVID-19 story isn’t over yet, but hopefully with the proper safety practices we can still get a happy ending- and soon.