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Capitol Comments: It’s time to have a plan to start opening up the state

Capitol Comments by Peggy Bennett

We are nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and it certainly has been a tough and arduous year. The sadness of losing loved ones, especially the heavy numbers of so many of our grandparents in nursing homes, has been tough to watch. So, too, it has been difficult to watch the incredible loneliness of our elders as they have remained isolated for months on end in care facilities throughout the state.

Peggy Bennett

My heart also breaks as we have witnessed the incredible hardships and trials that our many small businesses throughout the state have had to endure due to the governor’s executive orders. Many businesses have already had to close permanently due to these hardships, and many more are on the brink of closing. Longtime employees have lost their favorite jobs and watched their life savings being drained while on unemployment.

I believe we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel with the continued decline in cases and the advent of the new vaccines. As the vaccine rollouts continue, I hope that we will see a continued drop in virus cases and a move toward reopening our society.

It is time to have a plan to start opening up our state. 

The states around us have been open for some time, and their infection rates have been very consistent with Minnesota’s peaks and declines. There really is little difference between our border states and Minnesota except that our state has been locked down tight and theirs have not.

It’s time for our children to be in school. The CDC says it’s safe. The WHO says it’s safe. Our seniors need to be able to experience their iconic last year with their friends in the hallways as they prepare for graduation. Kindergartners need to be able to experience that first year in person to meet and get to know their favorite teacher.

It’s time to have a plan to start opening up our state.

Earlier this week, House Republicans unveiled a plan for reopening businesses in our state with the goal of returning full operations to our job providers within a few months. Some will say it’s too fast and some will say it’s not fast enough, but I say at least it’s a plan — and plans give hope. People need hope right now.

There comes a time when we need to trust people to do the right thing, and the majority of people will do the right thing if given that opportunity. It’s time to begin our plan to open up the state.

Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, is the District 27A representative.