Thumbs up to the apparent decline in new cases of COVID-19 in the region.

While we must continue to be on guard, we can take heart in the declining rates of positivity in the nine-county Mankato region.

Cases this week for the region dropped about 30 percent from 490 to 356. It’s the second week in a row cases have dropped. The rates of positivity in various counties in the region remain near or below the safe benchmark of 5 percent.

Again, early masking requirements and social distancing have improved the situation even though a large population of college students arrived a month or so ago.

It’s also a positive to see Gov. Tim Walz loosening restrictions on restaurant dining where now 10 people can sit at a table, where before it was four and six.

Minnesota’s plan to stop the spread of COVID hasn’t been perfect, but it has been working well as long as everyone does their part.

As the Legislature convenes Monday for another special session and the eventual upholding of the governor’s peacetime emergency. it’s worth nothing that Minnesota is in better shape with the virus than its neighbors, all of which have been less restrictive.

Friendlier trucks

Thumbs up to more companies transitioning their truck fleets to run on more environmentally friendly fuels.

Waste Management is gradually converting its Mankato fleet of trucks to run on compressed natural gas and has recently completed a CNG fueling station in Mankato.

West Central Sanitation, which does residential waste pickup in Mankato an North Mankato, also uses natural gas to power its trucks.

Others are also overcoming the problems of powering big trucks on something other than diesel fuel. Tesla has unveiled a full size semi that is all electric. Amazon is building a fleet of electric mid-size delivery trucks.

The EPA says transportation is the now the biggest contributor to climate change producing just over 28% of 2018 greenhouse gas emissions. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are the second biggest emitters after cars.

Continuing to promote the technologies and policies that will accelerate the move to cars and trucks that do less damage to the Earth is vital as the damage from climate change becomes increasingly clear.

The power of a poet

Thumbs up, and congratulations, to Louise Glück, the American poet who this week was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The former U.S. poet laureate, as one might expect for a Nobel winner, is no stranger to high literary honors. She received the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for “The Wild Iris,” the National Book Award in 2014 for “Faithful and Virtuous Night” and a National Humanities Medal in 2015.

She is only the 16th woman to get the Nobel for literature since it was started in 1901 and just the second American to win it in 27 years.

But she’s not limited to her own poetic composition. Glück, now 77, is also revered in the field as a teacher and mentor to younger poets.

The literature Nobel can be viewed as a career achievement award. But she’s not done quite yet: She has a new collection, “Winter Recipes from the Collective,” scheduled to come out in 2021.

Experience the peak

Thumbs up to a near-perfect autumn for viewing the beautiful foliage of Minnesota’s wide variety of trees.

As much as we complain about the weather, the mix of just enough moisture, warm days and cool nights has made this a banner year for fall colors.

A look out over the Minnesota River Valley or the falls at Minneopa State Park should bring a kind of calm joy to all of our hearts in these otherwise trying times.

The Mankato area will reach the peak of fall colors this coming week. Get out quickly before they’re gone. Sometimes, it doesn’t take long.

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