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Nothing is ever really over until…

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | May 30, 2021

Is it really that easy?

Does it just take a confusing mask decree by the CDC that says vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks inside or outside anymore, but non-vaccinated people should? And a governor saying that people in Minnesota can socially gather together because enough folks have gotten their COVID-19 vaccinations? And the Blue Earth City Council and other groups officially voting that masks are no longer required to be worn at meetings?

Does this mean the COVID-19 pandemic is officially over?

Well, I just went a whole week and never put on a mask, not even once. I went to a restaurant or two, a big box store, local stores and several events.

No mask. Didn’t even have one with me.

Well, that is not quite true. I did have one still in my camera bag. It has been there a long time and I am not sure if I really want to put it on, because, well, it has been in the bottom of the camera bag a long time so it is definitely a little bit iffy.

I almost put it on when I went to the Blue Earth Area High School Band Concert the other night. I wasn’t really sure if I was still supposed to wear one there or not. Some folks had a mask on, but most did not.

The students were not wearing masks as they performed, as opposed to the choir concert the week before where they sang while having to be wearing masks. Now that was pretty awkward – singing through a mask.

And, in case you are interested, the band concert was really good. The Varsity Band played one number that was the most different and intriguing music I have ever heard at a high school band concert. It was called ‘Mazama’ and featured a lot of strange and different sounds. I loved it.

But, I digress.

Have we really progressed to the point of having life back to normal?

The staff here at the Register has been busy the past few weeks working on our Best of Summer magazine, which will come out next week. We did not publish an edition of this magazine in 2020 because, well, there were very few, if any, summer events that were planned. Almost all were canceled due to COVID regulations.

This year, many of the summer festivals are coming back including the Faribault County Fair. Some will be very similar to what has been done in the past, but a couple, like Giant Days in Blue Earth, are trying to make up for not having a celebration last year by having a bigger and better event this year.

A couple of events still might not happen. Easton is canceling its usual summer celebration, not due to COVID-19, but because the streets in town are all torn up. Winnebago may not have their ‘Bago Fest due to lack of enough volunteers to organize it.

And, I was sad to learn the Blue Earth Town & Country Players have decided to not have their summer musical for the second year in a row, because of still lingering concerns over coronavirus safety protocols. You will be able to read all about their decision inside next week’s Best of Summer magazine.

However, you will also be able to read about all the exciting new things being planned for Giant Days, the county fair activities and other celebrations, festivals, and summer events across Faribault County.

So, are we back to normal? Can we go places and not think ‘Darn, I have to go back to my car and get my mask?’ Can we throw those masks out in the trash or toss the cloth ones in the rag bag?

One store in St. Peter, which was selling fashionable and cutsie masks during the pandemic, now has them in a basket by the front door all marked ‘free.’ And no one is taking any.

I am going to keep a few masks on hand. They are still required in airports and airplanes whether you are vaccinated or not, and I might do some traveling this summer. And stores and towns can always impose their own rules when it comes to wearing a mask and social distancing.

But still, the question remains. Is this pandemic over? I know it is not truly over. There are still cases of it being found across the U.S., in Minnesota and even in our own Faribault County. There were two new cases in the county on May 27, when this column was being written. Between May 21 and May 24, three new cases were reported. So the rate of cases has slowed way, way down, but it is still there.

The number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Faribault County has remained at 19 for a long, long time.

So, what do you think? Is the pandemic over? Are we back to normal?

I’d say we are getting as much back to normal as we will be able to for a while.

But I would be cautious about celebrating that fact too much. I wonder if this virus will ever truly go away.

Only time will tell.