A few days prior to this writing, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, personally, she was scared of "impending doom" as COVID-19 cases increased slightly (12%). President Joe Biden said he agreed. Because opinions are like noses, i.e., everybody has one, I take a different view.

The progress made inoculating people with a vaccine 90% effective against COVID-19 is encouraging as is more states relaxing mandates in March. I think the "emergency" is behind us. Those who choose should be able to return to some semblance of normal soon. Free people are social beings. We cannot create a zero risk society by healthy people hiding from each other.

In retrospect, if initial lockdown decisions were based solely on an abundance of caution they are difficult to question. Every life is precious. But the 15 days to "flatten the curve" extended more than a year. I think it's fair to say, however, during that period the expert's guidelines for controlling the spread of a highly contagious respiratory disease were inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. Is it now being politicized?

That said, independent studies related to lockdowns, including one from Stanford University infectious disease scientists and epidemiologists, comparing lock down states to free states suggests the many months of lockdowns failed, figuratively speaking, to control the virus spread. Might lockdowns have done more damage to society and the economy than the virus itself.

Moving forward I hope we will exercise some of our remaining individual freedoms. Trust the vaccines and therapeutics as well as the instincts, common sense and resiliency of each other. Fear should not paralyze us for extended periods.

Bob Jentges

North Mankato

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