A year ago, at the beginning of March, we had one of the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota. At first, guidance was simple; all we had to do was wash our hands and try not to touch our faces. Masks were not yet mandated, bars and restaurants were open at full capacity and social distancing was only encouraged. Little did we know on March 16, 2020, all non-essential businesses would temporarily close. Shortly after on March 27, 2020, Minnesota residents would be ordered to shelter in place. Within those dates, public schools would also close, forcing students to learn electronically.
Now, here we are, a year later, and still dealing with the side effects of COVID-19, but with a light at the end of the tunnel.
Bars and restaurants are open to 75-percent capacity; gyms are open at 50-percent capacity; indoor and outdoor events are open at 50-percent capacity; schools are now open if a “Safe Learning Plan” is followed, along with other expansions. As we recognize the progress we have made, we should also realize this progress has come from the COVID vaccine push that is now available to the public.
St. Cloud recently opened a mass vaccination site at the River’s Edge Convention Center. The Moderna vaccine will be given to 1,000 people, 16 and older, every Wednesday at the center from noon to 8 p.m. St. Cloud along with Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Rochester and Duluth are the six communities that have mass vaccination sites, which is huge for Minnesota residents in terms of availability. With all vaccines, there are hesitations, and that’s fine, but there are many reasons why I believe we should all get vaccinated; and some might be selfish reasons.
A couple of real reasons why people should consider getting vaccinated is because people continue to die from this virus. According to Our World in Data, 2.78 million people have died already in one year, and this number is likely to be more. Families are not able to see their loved ones who live in residential living facilities, and most do not get to see them before they pass from other causes; myself included. To be able to have one last hug was simply gone, taken away.
Small local businesses were forced to shut down. People continue to lose their jobs because businesses do not have the funds to pay employees. We are in the worst global recession since World War II and have not seen any serious improvements since the pandemic has started, but now we have a chance. I see people every day STILL refusing to wear a mask when entering a store and then they complain about the ongoing restriction implemented. Do they not see they are the problem? This is not a hoax, and this is not fake.
On a more selfish level, in my own personal experience dealing with the pandemic, my 21st birthday and college experience has been stripped away. The world has been put at a standstill, yet I continue to move without closure. I don’t get to have a graduation ceremony, along with many others who have gone through the gruesome years of college, and even high school. I am unable to walk across that stage, with my family cheering in the crowd, and receive my diploma. The reality is I have to look through a computer screen.
I strongly encourage people to go online and find your nearest vaccination clinic and make an appointment at this link https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/index.jsp.
I did it, and I’m still here to tell you that it’s worth it. If not for yourself then to see your kids graduate, to hug your grandpa again or to do all the stuff we have been missing out on the past year.