Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A look at COVID-19 in Minnesota & it’s bad November 13, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo June 2020.

THE PAST WEEK HERE IN MINNESOTA has been a difficult one as daily COVID-19 cases rise right along with deaths. The numbers are staggering. A record 7,228 positives reported Thursday. A record 56 reported deaths on Wednesday. I feel like I’m almost numbing to the statistics, to the ever-growing cases and deaths, including five new deaths reported in my county of Rice on Wednesday, another on Thursday. Likewise the number of care centers and schools with infections numerous enough to make the Minnesota Department of Health outbreak list lengthens.

Nearly every day recently I’ve received an email or a text notifying me that someone I care about, or one of their loved ones, is infected with the virus. That includes two sisters-in-law and a brother-in-law. Both my mom and my father-in-law are back in quarantine after new cases of COVID in staffers at their care centers. Concern for my husband at his workplace is ongoing given the many mask-less customers and co-workers not masking properly. He can’t do his job from home; he’s an automotive machinist. We discuss his work situation often and his need to put his health and safety first.

Social distancing remains part of the safety protocol to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo June 2020.

This pandemic is out of control. You all know that. And it doesn’t need to be this way. I’ve long felt deep frustration over the failure of some many to follow basic health and safety guidelines like masking up (and that means wearing the mask correctly, covering mouth AND nose), keeping six feet or more away from others, washing/sanitizing hands, avoiding crowds, and staying home if you’re sick, have symptoms, have had contact with an infected person or are awaiting COVID test results. These are not difficult requirements to follow.

Posted on the door of a business in Northfield, MN. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2020.

A friend recently offered this comparison to those who claim masks do no good:

If you were having surgery would you want the surgeon to wear a mask? We wear masks during the pandemic for the same reason surgeons wear masks in surgery, to prevent the spread of germs.

He’s right. I’ve used that same analogy. And this week the Centers for Disease Control stated that wearing masks not only protects others, but also ourselves. I’ve long thought that. Yet, too many still view mask mandates as political, as government intrusion, as anything but what they are, a way to protect all of us from COVID-19. This is science and health-based. But, for some reason, too many people in my community of Faribault continue to ignore the science and our state mask mandate. I see unmasked individuals (and those wearing them below their noses or around their necks only) in public all the time.

The #1 reason to mask up. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2020.

I am thankful that Minnesota’s governor this week added restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID in my state. Those include closing bars and restaurants at 10 pm, banning bellying up to the bar and limiting games like darts and pool, capping funeral and wedding reception sizes, and asking us to limit private gatherings to 10 people from no more than three households. Already, people are whining and complaining. “What about Thanksgiving? And what about Christmas? And what about…?” (The Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner and Faribault Winterfest have been cancelled due to COVID-19. I’m so relieved organizers made those smart choices.)

I photographed this sign on a business in Crosby, MN. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo September 2020.

Yet, politicians continue to fuel the fire of opposition to mandates by citing economic concerns and abuse of power. I understand the economic fall-out. I’ve lost income due to the pandemic. My daughter lost her job. My son-in-law lost his job. (They’re working now.) The hospitality industry, especially, is hurting. I get that. I acknowledge that. But the constant criticism of efforts to stop the spread of COVID makes zero sense. We are in this together. Together. Elected officials who continually attack public health mandates are hurting efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. I don’t understand why they don’t understand that this pandemic is, first and foremost, a public health issue that takes top priority.

Can you imagine being a healthcare worker right now (and I know some of you are)? Many are voicing their frustration over the failure of the public to grasp the severity of the pandemic, to follow basic preventative measures. Minnesota hospitals are filling. Our healthcare workers are getting sick.

The reason the Rare Pair in Northfield gives for wearing face masks. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2020.

We all want life to return to normal. But in between now and a vaccine, we must each adhere to health and safety guidelines. When we don’t, we risk our own health and the health of others. I, for one, don’t need more emails and texts telling me of loved ones or others infected with COVID.

And I don’t want to read more disheartening headlines like these published in my local newspaper, the Faribault Daily News, this week:

COVID-19 outbreak at care center swells to 74 staff, residents

COVID surge drives Faribault district to distance learning

With COVID cases on the rise, City Hall to shut its doors

We each have a responsibility to try our best to stop the spread of COVID by following health and safety protocols. Thank you to those who are doing just that.


Note: I moderate all comments and will not publish inflammatory comments, including those which spread misinformation and false narratives.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “A look at COVID-19 in Minnesota & it’s bad”

  1. Jen Says:

    Well said, Audrey!

  2. Larry Gavin Says:

    Keep up the good work Audrey. Stay healthy, and keep mn prairie roots coming. It’s a gem.

  3. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Feel really sad about the community dinner. Since that was established, nothing but fuzzy vibes have I heard with the big one being true “community”. Fixings must be in the pantries by now, a creative committee will come up with something hopefully. The latest installment from “1855” is really outstanding and poignant, can just picture my ancestors living in that time. Our pastor posted a message that the solution to crabby is grateful….we need to have a talk!

    • As far as I know, the community Thanksgiving dinner is not going to happen in any way, shape or form this year. I don’t see how it possibly could given how many people work together to make this happen. Randy and I have volunteered there in the past, delivering meals. That blessed us in so many ways, giving us joy on those Thanksgivings when we could not be with family or them with us.

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    We celebrated our Thanksgiving early – the Saturday had 70* weather in November. We enjoyed a beautifully set table out on the lawn and our food was delivered right at sunset. Candles were lit and lanterns too and it was lovely. We will not gather indoors for Thanksgiving this year.
    Our community Thanksgiving meal is cancelled too, which we will miss because have come to enjoy volunteering at it.

  5. Kathleen Ahern Says:

    I completely a d adamantly agree with every word you’ve written, Audrey! The frustration is high on our part here in Idaho too … deaths soar, our local hospital is at capacity …. and there is no state mask mandate and never has been! There are a few businesses with signs saying masks must be worn to shop there, but most people don’t wear one and they’re still allowed to shop! People cry out, “don’t take away my freedom!” Really? I would like to enjoy the freedom of feeling somewhat safe to be able to buy a dozen eggs or mail a package.

    Like you, we know so many people now who have or have had Covid. It seems we are constantly worried … about my elderly parent who each have compromised immune systems, about my sister’s son with asthma, about a dear friend who is a teacher in Texas and is teaching in person everyday, about our neighbor who receives in home health care because of a serious ongoing illness. The list of concern never ends – for any of us, does it?

    I do believe as a nation, we have been numbed and somehow maddeningly accepting of this tragic saga. We are all praying for a vaccine, yet we have months to go before a vaccine can even possibly be available.

    And for me, the most frustrating aspect is that MUCH of this ttragedy – the number of cases and the number of deaths – is so easily preventable … just wear a mask! Just wear a mask and wear it properly. If someone doesn’t like doing so, then they can wear a mask that says, “I hate wearing this mask.” Just wear a mask. Just wear a mask. Such a simple, yet powerful thing. Just wear a mask.

    Stay safe … we’re always thinking of you ALL ❤️

    • Well written, Kathleen. At least we have a mask mandate and some restrictions here in Minnesota. I cannot imagine living in Idaho, without a mask mandate. That is absurd. It’s your freedom that’s being infringed, your right to live without fear, to feel happy and safe… I am so sorry.

      I understand your worry. And I’m sorry for all the health-compromised individuals in your circle who could suffer greatly if they get COVID. You have legitimate reasons to feel deeply concerned.

      My stress level notched up about an hour ago after I received an email from my middle brother about a resident testing positive in my mom’s care center. This is the first resident case. So that makes three people testing positive from the last round of outbreak testing on Monday. I don’t want my sweet mom to contract COVID, even if she is 87 and not healthy. I don’t want her to suffer. I don’t want her to die alone. This is the human part that I wish those non-maskers and non-believers (thinking this is a hoax, conspiracy and/or economic issue) would recognize. These are real people who love and are loved.

      All my love to you and Justin also.

  6. Susan Ready Says:

    yes what a saga this has all become with so many frustrating pieces and uncertainties that are unfolding daily. Scary and so many resistant to change their daily patterns of behavior. I can’t wait for this year to end. 2021 has got to be better.

  7. shirleyhansen Says:

    Such a vital article to everyone during this frightening time of escalating Covid-19 cases! Everyone has to pay attention to this – next time it might be
    either them or a loved one coming down with this horrible disease! My sister just spent six days in a hospital with Covid and, thank goodness, is in a rehab
    facility now. Taking precautions for the holiday is not an imposition but a gift to your friends and relatives. Thanks so much for reminding everyone on the severity of this!

    • First, Shirley, I am sorry your sister has been battling COVID, but am, oh, so thankful for her ongoing recovery. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a loved one getting sick with COVID for people to realize this disease is real. That said, I still hear the “oh, COVID is no worse than the flu.” For some people it may not be. But for those like your sister and many others, the illness can prove severe. We just never know if we will be the one to develop a mild case or to develop symptoms that land us in the hospital or worse.

      I especially appreciate your statement that “taking precautions for the holiday is not an imposition but a gift.” You are absolutely right on that. Well said.

      I am thankful that some states, like neighboring ND, have now implemented mask mandates. Why did it take so long, though? I feel for our healthcare workers who are on the frontlines. They are scared, exhausted, stressed… But yet, they forge on. Thanks are not enough for what they are doing.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Best wishes to your sister. And to you and your loved ones, stay well.

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