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A reflection on how COVID-19 affected Minnesota in 2022

COVID has become something we’ve learned to live with – live being the operative word. But the outlook wasn’t so optimistic – almost worry-free – at the start of the year.

A sign reminding patrons of the Minneapolis mask ordinance at the Fulton Brewing Taproom in July 2020.
A sign reminding patrons of the Minneapolis mask ordinance at the Fulton Brewing Taproom in July 2020.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

What is time?

A philosophical question, I know, but one I find myself asking more and more since the initial COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in March of 2020. The days, weeks and months now seem to blend together. The Jill Scott concert I attended at the Fillmore in Minneapolis on Feb. 25, 2020 – right before the world “stopped” – seems like just yesterday, and vaccine and mask mandates seem like forever ago, yet they were in place (in some fashion) as recently as April.

COVID has become something we’ve learned to live with – live being the operative word. But the outlook wasn’t so optimistic – almost worry-free – at the start of the year.

In fact, my first scheduled day at MinnPost in January was instead spent in an hours-long COVID testing line inside the Minneapolis Convention Center. I tested negative. What seemed so long ago was less than 12 months ago.

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In fact, it wasn’t until February of 2022 when Minneapolis, St. Paul and other municipalities lifted vaccination requirements (or proof of a recent negative test) to dine indoors. While I still carry my vaccination card, I don’t miss having to fumble to retrieve it any time I wanted a bite or desired libation. Mask mandates in most of the state fell a couple weeks later. And in April we saw the fall of the mask mandate at MSP and other airports. During recent air travel I observed the vast majority of travelers and workers were without masks. I opted to wear mine.

MinnPost last updated its COVID dashboard on June 29 after discontinuing its weekly COVID newsletter on May 3. That didn’t mean COVID wasn’t (and isn’t) a daily disruptor. This past July, at the same time Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) switched from daily to weekly reports due to the decreased risks of death or serious health event, a series of performances at the Guthrie was cancelled because of the virus.

But COVID-related deaths are down … way down.

Peaking at a seven-day moving average of 33.4 deaths, according to MDH, COVID deaths were at 6.7 as of Dec. 4, when the latest complete data set was available. COVID deaths for those at greatest risk, individuals age 65-plus, was as high as 20 per 100,000 for the week of Jan. 23-29. That age group recorded 5.5 COVID deaths as of Dec. 4.

So, it seems there’s light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

From the start of this pandemic that took so much from so many, we kept hearing, “Give it time.” Again I ask, “What is time?”