America's battle against COVID-19 has been a series of challenges.
Keep the virus off America's shores. Failed.
Flatten the curve to prevent the virus from overwhelming our health care system. Failed.
Lock down businesses and establish public health protocols, such as masks, to reduce COVID's spread. Not a failure, but not a resounding success, either.
Develop and distribute safe, effective vaccines. Scientists nailed the development part of that equation, but we've missed the mark on distribution.
And now, the latest goal: Herd immunity.
According to Mayoclinic.org, herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease (either by infection or vaccination), making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune.
But there are a number of challenges to achieving herd immunity, and the biggest among them is hesitancy among some people to get the vaccine. According to Mayo Clinic, 39% of the public remains either ambivalent or outright opposed to vaccination. A lot of those people will need to be swayed to get shots before herd immunity can even be considered.
This month, Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic joined forces to create an expansive public information campaign in an effort to sway that 39%. Thumbs up to the media campaign and thumbs up to those who have been vaccinated. To those who have yet to be vaccinated, do it to protect yourself, your family, your business, your school, your place of worship and your future.
Keep it civil
Park Board President Linnea Archer created quite a stir with her comments at the end of the April 6 park board meeting. After voting to include an American flag at the entrance of the new law enforcement memorial, Archer said that the flag is not a positive symbol for everyone and that some see it as a symbol of injustice.
The comments were ill-timed and poorly presented, but worthy of discussion in a different context. The most troubling aspect of the situation were the virulent comments against Archer, some bordering on threats, seen on social media.
Rochester City Council President Brooke Carlson encouraged community members to tone down aggressive responses to Archer’s comments.
“We call on the entire community to be united in our commitment to public discourse that does not seek to harm another purposefully,” she said.
Thumbs down to those who couldn't keep a civil tongue while purporting to defend the nation's flag and the things it represents, including diversity of opinion and the right to express that view. How disappointing.
A powerful conversation
Police and community leaders met on April 14 to discuss the death of Duante Wright and what it means to the community.
Wright was an unarmed 20-year-old Black man shot and killed by Brooklyn Center, Minn., police during a traffic stop.
Rochester residents said they feared for the safety of their loved ones. Nicole Andrews, who has a 14-year-old son, said she came to the meeting in anger.
“It could have easily been my son. It could have easily been my brother. It could have easily been my cousin," she said.
Jim Franklin, chief of Rochester police, and Jeff Stilwell, captain of police, said the department has made progress addressing their concerns, but more needs to be done.
One measure of success is that the community and police are talking about the issues in the first place.
Thumbs up to continued dialogue between our communities and authorities.