Tribune Opinion: The time is here to do your part on COVID-19

Summary: Our shared sacrifices in the coming weeks will help bend the COVID-19 curve, save countless lives and ease the severe strain our medical and health care institutions and staffs are experiencing. Please wear a mask, keep appropriate social distance and stay home.


This COVID-19 crisis is a deadly serious disease. How bad is it? If Minnesotans do not get their act together, the COVID surge can only get worse and more will die.

The COVID-19 figures are frightening. This is not about statistics, it is about people.

There were deaths of 68 people and 6,812 more positive cases reported Friday, according to the latest Minnesota Department of Health report. There were 72 deaths and 7,877 more positive cases reported Thursday. So far, more than 3,000 people have died in Minnesota and 256,700 state residents have tested positive as a result of COVID in 2020.

The COVID surge is everywhere in Minnesota and across the country.

Carris Health President and co-CEO Cindy Firkins Smith noted an even scarier fact this week: 1,200 workers were unable to work in that health care system, either infected with COVID, quarantining due to exposure or caring for family members infected. That system is not alone.


There are more than 900 staff members diagnosed with COVID within the Mayo Health System in the last two weeks. The Allina Health system has more than 800 workers out due to COVID.

“There’s no calling anywhere to get help,” Firkins Smith said, to assist with the staffing challenges of Minnesota hospitals. She was one of the hospital leaders who spoke Thursday alongside Gov. Tim Walz, urging Minnesotans to follow the health guidance to stem the spread of the virus.

Many health facilities — including Carris Health-Rice Memorial Hospital — do not know how long their staffing levels will be sufficient to handle the current COVID surge.

As of Thursday, Carris Health-Rice was on "divert status" 10 times over the first 11 days of November. That means the hospital during that period could not admit new patients with COVID-19 or any other critical conditions. Patients had to endure delays in care as hospital systems attempted to transfer them to another hospital that could treat them.

“Patients can be hurt and, in a worst-case scenario, patients might die,” Firkins Smith said.

You heard the facts this week that Minnesota hospitals are “perilously close” to a breaking point where they cannot care for patients.

It is time for all Minnesotans to step up and take the threat of COVID-19 seriously. The statistics are real. People are losing their lives.

This is no COVID hoax.


"It's heartbreaking for health care workers to finish an exhausting workday only to stop at the grocery store and see people not wearing a mask," Firkins Smith said. "Don't call health workers heroes if you can't put a piece of cloth or paper over your face to protect them."

The state of Minnesota implemented new restrictions today that impact youth sports, family gatherings, fitness centers, bowling, movie theaters, restaurants and bars. These are moves that hurt many people, but they are a necessary sacrifice.

Most importantly, these new Minnesota measures call for families to limit their gatherings to one household. Medical experts across the country are urging families not to travel for Thanksgiving and stay at home. Please follow these guidelines. The lives you save may be a relative, a friend or yourself.

If we do not follow that guidance, more Minnesotans will get infected with COVID and, unfortunately, more Minnesota residents will die.

They will not be here in 2021 to celebrate birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Their families will miss those loved ones who do not survive COVID-19.

Our shared sacrifices in the coming weeks will help bend the COVID-19 curve, save countless lives and ease the severe strain our medical and health care institutions and staffs are experiencing.

Be a patriot by taking these steps: please wear a mask, wash your hands, keep appropriate social distance and stay home.

This editorial is the opinion of the West Central Tribune's editorial board consisting of publisher Steve Ammermann and editor Kelly Boldan.


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