Our take: Common sense will go a long way in fighting rampant COVID – Post Bulletin

Depending on the data you trust, the United States has exceeded one million COVID-related deaths or will reach that milestone within the next week.

As grim as that number is, it doesn’t get much attention. Indeed, as COVID-19 cases rise in many parts of the country — including Minnesota — people seem much more concerned about the stock market crash, soaring gas prices and crowded flights. to popular summer vacation destinations.

In other words, people are ready to be done with COVID-19, even though it’s clearly not done with us.

We understood. For more than two years, the pandemic has dictated our behavior, and we’ve had enough. We want our children to learn at school, not at home. We want to eat at our favorite restaurant on Friday evening, even if the weather is gloomy and the terrace is closed. We want to meet our friends, family and colleagues in person. We want to see smiles, not masks.

We are almost there.

Experts disagree on how close the world is to an official end to the pandemic, but we are clearly much closer to the end than the beginning, especially in the United States. On April 26, the CDC announced that nearly 6 in 10 Americans had contracted COVID, and that number rose over the next two weeks as a new wave swept across the country.

But hospitalizations are down. Fewer people are on ventilators. Deaths are decreasing. Vaccines and infection-acquired immunity seem to be pushing us toward the point where COVID is better described as “endemic,” rather than pandemic.

Rampant COVID will be the new normal, and while we all crave normality, we also have to accept that some aspects of life will not and should not return to pre-COVID.

Endemic COVID, simply put, means the virus will always be with us. Just as flu and cold viruses are constantly circulating, COVID will never go away. It will increase, decrease and mutate. Some variants will sicken millions of people but cause few serious problems. Others will be less contagious but much more dangerous.

Researchers, doctors and pharmaceutical companies will make annual vaccines to fight the virus. Some of these vaccines will be very effective. Some won’t. Several million people will receive these vaccines as they become available. Millions will refuse them, even if they are free. Some will regret this decision later, as they find themselves in intensive care beds.

In other words, people will make their own choices and live with the consequences – and there’s no excuse for making ill-informed decisions.

When COVID hit, it was the big unknown, and our elected leaders and health experts had to step in and make some tough choices that affected everyone. Business closures, mask mandates and distance learning were implemented out of caution, and we have no doubt these measures saved hundreds of thousands of lives as scientists worked tirelessly to develop effective treatments and vaccines.

But we would say rampant COVID cannot and will not be managed via government mandate. It will be up to everyone to make smart decisions to protect their own health and that of others.

This means that there are no more cold and/or flu symptoms “pushing up”. Gone are the days when it was acceptable, even commendable, to take medication and show up for school, or for work in an office, store, or restaurant despite having a sore throat and a runny nose. For the foreseeable future, every cold should be considered a probable case of COVID, which means you stay home and avoid unnecessary close interaction.

Of course, this recommendation has to cut both ways. Employers will have to give their workers the freedom to stay home if necessary – which means some level of paid sick leave, even for part-time workers. Yes, a small percentage of employees will likely take unfair advantage of paid sick leave, but that will be part of the new normal with COVID rampant.

Then there is the issue of face masks. While some level of warrants will likely continue in hospitals and clinics, and short-term warrants will occur in classrooms when schools encounter sudden surges (as Rochester currently does), we do not We do not expect a return to national masking requirements on public transport or in large public places.

Instead, we expect people to be left free to make their own decision about what is best for themselves and those around them – and we hope that this freedom will depoliticize the issue of masks. For that, we must stop judging ourselves.

Someone who wears a mask on a plane or while shopping at Target should not be considered pro-Mandate, pro-Biden or anti-Trump. Maybe they have a pre-existing condition, are just being cautious, or they had COVID a week ago and are doing what they can to be careful of others. A mask is a medical device, nothing more.

Similarly, those who don’t wear masks in public places shouldn’t be considered reckless crusaders, Fauci haters, or Trump admirers. They should be seen as people who have carefully assessed their own level of risk – and the risk they potentially pose to others – and are doing what they think is best.

Of course, this kind of tolerance and individual freedom only works if the vast majority of people make responsible and thoughtful choices. Every time someone without a mask and with a cough boards a plane or attends a concert, there is a risk of super-spreading a new COVID variant which, in the worst case, would require action. government in the sense of what we have experienced for the past 30 months.

Let’s not go.

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