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Let’s take COVID-19 threat seriously

The day after Gov. Tim Walz announced new measures to try to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state, we got new evidence of why that is necessary.

The state recorded a record 56 COVID-related deaths on Wednesday, 20 more than the previous record. There are other signs of the growing crisis. The state’s positivity rate — the percentage of COVID tests that come back positive — has grown from 5% a month ago to more than 12%. Northern Minnesota seems to be especially hard hit — a quarter of the Duluth Police Department is on quarantine, for example, and the Duluth school system is switching to remote learning for all.

We’ve seen the statistics in Brown County, where double digit increases in case count have been the norm for the past couple of weeks. We are now up to 626 cases just six days after hitting 500.

Walz’s latest provisions are that bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m., starting on Friday, except for takeout orders. The size of large social gatherings is being restricted. Wedding and funeral receptions will be limited as well, though the services themselves will not.

The response from the state beverage industry, which feels bars and restaurants are being unfairly singled out.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt repeated his frequent complaint that we should be focusing on the economic health of the affected industries. What he thinks about the physical health of the bar owners and patrons, we’re not sure.

We have said this many times, and we will say it again. We ALL need to take COVID-19 seriously, and practice the basics of prevention — wear face masks in public, maintain a 6-foot distance from others, wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer and stay home if sick.

The governor and all the governor’s public health officials won’t be able to stop COVID-19 if we don’t bother to protect ourselves and others. WE need to act responsibly. The more we do, the less the virus will spread, and perhaps some of these restrictions can be lifted.

It’s not up to the governor, it is up to you.

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