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EDITORIAL: Pandemic Perusings – Could Walz really be a one-term governor?

What if School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson was in an elected position? Would district voters be happy with his decisions, or second-guess them?

Mike Christopherson

Ok, so maybe we never had a reoccurring editorial entitled “Pandemic Perusings” during the first wave of COVID-19. But for a little while there, we did run a bullet-point list of timely pandemic-related topics. Now that numbers are exploding, things are being shut down again and people are in a tizzy in both reaction camps, it seems appropriate to touch on some things once again:

• With the difficult decisions he’s having to make, some are saying Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is planning to be a one-term governor. He’s assuming that anger over what he’s having to do now to the state economy, youth sports, etc. will linger into the 2022 Election, and that he will lose.

Case in point, the pro-hockey online organization, Follow the Puck, tweeted the other day, when Walz paused the prep hockey season for four weeks, that those angered by Walz’s decision need to carry that anger into 2022 and vote him out. (There were a ton of responses, and, in an encouraging sign, most were in defense of Walz and also critical of Follow the Puck for making such a negative partisan statement that fed into the angry parent frenzy.)

If Walz ends up being a one-term governor, that will be extremely unfortunate. Walz and other governors, Democrat or Republican, are simply doing what they’re doing because the federal response to the pandemic has been to ignore it and mock those who dare take it seriously.

• If Crookston School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson was serving in an elected capacity, would he be voted out, too, for reasons similar to the governor? Let’s hope not. He’s doing his best and we’re fortunate to have him here. The fact that he’s scheduling a series of Zoom meetings to chat informally with school district families about distance learning, Pirate sports and other pandemic-related topics is a credit to his understanding that people are worried, concerned, angry and/or confused and they should have an opportunity to ask questions and speak their minds.

• But it’s tough with the schools, isn’t it? Younger people do get COVID-19 far less than older people. But, in another sign showing the lack of federal direction, school districts across the country are all over the map. 

Case in point, in New York City, after the first wave, officials instituted a 3% positive test rate threshold that, if met, would spur another shutdown of schools during the virus’ second wave. NYC hit that threshold last week and schools were shut down, and yet the positive test rate in the city’s schools themselves is only .17%.

The lack of any consistent pandemic policy from the Trump Administration is even more glaring when you consider that a 3% positive test rate in New York City shuts down the schools, and in South Dakota, with a whopping 56% positivity rate, it’s basically the wild west, with the governor saying wear a mask if you want, but if you choose not to, that’s cool, too.

• Someone posted a meme on the Times’ Facebook page last week, showing COVID-19 mortality rates. Obviously, the virus hardly ever kills a young person – say, a high school hockey player, for example – but around 6% of older, vulnerable people do die from COVID-19. Someone else even took the time to note that most of those “old people” would die anyway, as part of the “circle of life.”

So we’re back to talking about sacrificing the old, frail and weak so we can play sports and pack the bar, huh?

Young people are the ones who might not even know they have the virus, which increases the likelihood that they spread it to all kinds of people, including grandma and grandpa.

This should be about protecting the oldest members of the population, not throwing them into the “Lion King’s” den. 

Circle of life...come on, man, seriously?