Remember in March when the coronavirus hit, and I wrote in the space about how nice it was that the prevention measures weren’t being politicized, and that we were coming together as a nation on this issue?

Yeah, so much for that.

In the past six months, Trumpists have since been taught to believe that the coronavirus is a hoax perpetrated by the ultra liberals to get Trump voted out of office, and to comply with masks, social distancing and other protective measures means to give up your personal freedoms. I have heard plenty of Republicans griping about “Governor Goofy,” referring to Gov. Tim Walz, and how he was so wrong in shutting down the economy. 

I also recall writing about how, in our area, people treated coronavirus news as they treated the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 — a tragedy, but one that was a long way from here.

Yeah, you can throw that one out too.

Last week, Fergus Falls was second on the New York Times list of cities with the fastest growing number of cases, gaining 375 cases in a span of a week. Outstate Minnesota essentially has caught up to neighboring states such as North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin in terms of the growth in cases.

In Minnesota, we were averaging about 700 cases per day since coronavirus arrived here in April. Since mid-October, while most of us weren’t watching, the number of new cases has grown daily to a maximum of 8,689 on Nov. 14. 

The question I keep coming back to is, were we as a community destined to get hit with the coronavirus, and it was only a matter of time before COVID-19 would make its way to our neck of the woods?

Or is the fact that 60% of the residents of North Dakota, South Dakota and essentially all of Minnesota other than the counties where Minneapolis and St. Paul reside were Trump supporters?

I say supporters and not voters because if you voted for Trump, the chances are good you were not a casual voter. There were a scant few casual voters in this race. If you were for Trump, you likely bought his whole agenda, hook. Many Trumpists believed everything they were told by him about the coronavirus. Many also behaved accordingly, ignoring pleas to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

So did the virus spread so quickly here because many Trumpists refused to wear masks? I certainly don’t have the evidence to prove it. But it certainly didn’t help anything. Regardless, at this point placing blame on the maskless ones is counterproductive.

What is productive, however, is to do what the health experts are telling us to do from this point forward. So far, there have been about 250,000 cases of coronavirus in Minnesota. That’s only 4.4% of the state’s population. It could definitely get worse.

I’m not saying Walz has been flawless in terms of balancing the need to keep the economy going versus curbing the virus. Sure, it was draconian to start with. We now know that shutting everything down wasn’t necessary. But we know more now than we did before about the virus.

What I do agree with is, if I’m in public, I will wear a mask, maintain my distance from others and wash my hands. If I feel sick, or I have been in contact with someone who contracted COVID, I’m going to stay home.

That’s really all anyone is asking of us. And while it may be that you could get away with not getting or spreading COVID while not doing those things, there have been too many cases that say your odds are not good.

Clearly, we are not out of the coronavirus woods yet.

But at this point, no one is asking you to lock yourself in your house for a year. Just wear your mask.


Joel Myhre is a Fergus Falls resident.

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