It’s bad enough when the nation’s current workforce shortage limits hours at a restaurant or a store. It’s something else entirely when it limits care for the elderly and other vulnerable people.

Statewide, some 23,000 care positions are unfilled. Seven in 10 care facilities have had to turn away potential residents because they are short staffed. And that has also been true for 3 in 10 assisted living facilities. Twenty-four facilities in the state are on the verge of outright closure.

Two of the state’s largest long-term care trade associations, Leading Age Minnesota and Care Providers Minnesota, sounded the alarm, noting that low wages, stress and fatigue are to blame for an inability to keep staff rosters full.

One official said, “I’m afraid this is going to get worse. … We need to invest in our caregivers before it’s too late.”

We agree. Thumbs down to a phenomenon in which invaluable caregivers aren’t being treated with the value and respect they deserve.

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Blood brothers

An unprecedented national blood shortage has been caused by people’s reluctance to donate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In times like this, we need examples like a couple of Rochester-area buddies who are Mayo Clinic’s first-ever 400-time blood donors. Dave Johnson and Mark Korinek, both in their late 50s, met in early adulthood three decades ago through involvement with their children’s activities.

Both of them began donating blood in their teen years. Back then, Korinek recalled, donors gave blood to the patient sitting in the next bed. Donors saw the effect of their generosity.

Today it’s a little more abstract and anonymous, but no less important. In fact, given the current shortage, it’s probably more important. Be a donor. Thumbs up to these exemplary men.

New place to take a spin

We’re always on the lookout for something fun, easy, social and relaxing to do. That’s why we applaud the introduction of a new disc golf course recently opened at Gamehaven Park.

Sports don’t get much easier than disc golf. This course, though, adds an extra dimension to make things interesting: 18 of its 27 “holes” comprise a “championship-caliber” course for competitions.

That’s fine, but just having a new place to walk barefoot through the grass, maybe with a small cooler with a favorite beverage, just tossing the disc around, seems like more than enough to us. Thumbs up.