The coveted Spotty (tm) - graphic by Tild
by Steve Timmer
Oct 5, 2020, 11:30 AM

Dr. John Sandgren wins a Spotty ™

Dr. Sandgren wins a Spotty™ for this letter in the Star Tribune on Sunday, October 4th.

Minnesotans face a long, hard winter with COVID-19 and, for each of us, mental health will be challenged. Just how challenged depends on just how safe we feel as we go about our lives.

In the Sept. 27 article “What Republicans would do differently on virus,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka criticizes the COVID statutes instituted by Gov. Tim Walz as “unilateral” mandates, leaving people no say. Gazelka suggests owners of small bars or restaurants decide for themselves how to manage COVID and at what capacity to seat. I remember the video clips of people becoming belligerent to the point of drawing guns when asked to put on face masks.

What we need to safely survive the coming winter are clear guidelines on what constitutes healthy COVID behavior, enforceable because we all need assurance that everyone will adhere.

What Gazelka may be missing here is that when COVID reaches high prevalence, the game changes. Simple activities become unsafe — activities that preserve mental health, like running errands or walking with a friend.

Even the most conscientious of us make mistakes as we try to be safe. Masks get forgotten during brief errands, contaminated surfaces get touched, small rooms force us too close to someone wearing his mask below his nose [emphasis added]. When viral prevalence is low, we can get away with little slip-ups. But when viral prevalence is high, it can be catastrophic. Ultimately, the virus makes the rules; we don’t.

Dr. John Sandgren, Edina

The writer is a retired physician.

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And on a related note:

Congressman Pete Stauber wears a mask – Bloomberg photo

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Remember, a Spotty™ is awarded in the name of my old alter ego for a letter to the editor, an op-ed, or a blog post or comment I wish I had written myself.

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