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Our Opinion: We don’t need to be here

In recent weeks, Mower County has seen a steady rise in COVID-19 cases.

On Tuesday, before the County Board of Commissioners meeting, an understandably frustrated Pam Kellogg reported that in a two-week period earlier this month there were over 200 new cases in Mower.

“I pulled a two week report and from Aug. 10-24, we had 216 cases,” Kellogg said. “We’re testing positive at 10.5%, which is a really high rate.”

There’s no doubt that the delta variant is far deadlier than the original strain and in the process it flipped the demographics on its head in the state as to who is catching the brunt of infections.

In the early days of the pandemic, it was the elderly population that was being affected the most with high rates of hospitalization and deaths. It’s now the younger population, and that includes a large number of unvaccinated people.

It’s a difficult pill to swallow given how well things seemed to be going earlier this summer. We hadn’t won, but the vaccine rollout that started in December last year in Minnesota was getting us there.

But now numbers are rising again. It may not be as steep or severe, but the COVID-19 pandemic is proving that it’s far from over and none of this is being helped by rampant misinformation that continues to circulate and unnecessarily gets in the way.

Early on, many held concerns at how fast the vaccine was developed, even though there were many of the basic building blocks of the vaccine already in place that scientists knew about that contributed to the fast rollout.

The questions continued as to side effects and the safety, even though there was mountains of evidence proving there was very little threat. Yet conspiracy theories shadowed the vaccines, claiming everything from poison to tracking technology, which seems pretty silly when you consider that cellphones, credit cards and computers make it pretty easy to track what we’re doing if the government was so inclined.

One notable and undeniable development were the health effects of myocarditis, which reportedly developed in some people after taking either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle and is of course serious. It is a rightful course of action to investigate these reports, but it’s also important to realize that suspected cases are few.

Some of the pushback is an inherent distrust of the government and big pharma, and while there are questions (as there always are with these two bodies), the science is proven. The vaccine works, masks work, social distancing works. This has been proven time and time again when they came together to dramatically reduce COVID-19 numbers, allowing things like in-person graduations and county fairs.

The proof is in the numbers. As of July 25, 3,008,784 Minnesotans were fully vaccinated. Of that number there have been 9,664 breakthrough cases. Break that down further and 682 have been hospitalized and 69 have died.

Tragic? Of course, but then look at the percentage – 0.321% of fully vaccinated people out of over three million experience breakthrough cases and a minuscule 0.023% require hospitalization and 0.002% have died. This reduces pressure on hospitals to treat more serious cases and, in turn, the vaccine’s allow us to get even closer to normal, which we all crave.

But the numbers keep rising and we’re needing programs like the one Gov. Tim Walz recently reinstated — $100 gift cards to the first 3,600 people who get a first shot at the Minnesota State Fair.

We’re buying normal and what’s worse is now, we don’t even know when the peak to this latest surge will come, leaving us to spin our wheels in the mud.