COVID-19 precautions are about more than your protection

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The University of Missouri made a difficult decision Friday.

It has canceled its annual January event for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event was scheduled to be held Jan. 22 at the Black River Coliseum, under a rebranded Ag Connect. Long called Ag Expo, the event was expected to bring together those who work in the agriculture business to visit, network and learn as it has for many years.

We’re disappointed, like many in our community, to see yet another disruption from COVID-19.

Many of us never thought we would still be feeling the impacts this far out.

And we’re all exhausted from it. We’re tired of hearing about it. We’re tired of thinking about it. We’re tired of disrupting our lives because of it.

But — there’s always a but, isn’t there — each organization needs to take the steps it thinks will best protect its staff and the public it serves.

That said, there are also steps we could be taking — you’re tired of hearing it, we know — to put us on better footing in this continued battle.

Social distancing, frequent handwashing, masks and vaccines. It’s the message we’ve heard for two years almost. The fact that we are now closing in on two years is part of what makes it so difficult to do now. Because we’re tired and we want the world to go back to normal.

But it hasn’t, unfortunately.

Statewide, daily numbers of confirmed cases have started increasing again, with more than 60,000 in the past seven days, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services.

Hospitalizations statewide as of Jan. 9, the most recent state figures available, were over 3,300, with almost 700 COVID patients in ICU beds.

As of Wednesday, 92 of the 554 people hospitalized in Southeast Missouri were there because of COVID-19, the state has reported. There were a total of 73 people in Southeast Missouri intensive care units and 30 of those patients were there because of COVID-19.

Twin Rivers School District canceled classes mid-week due to illness, both flu, COVID and other infectious bugs.

Social distancing, frequent handwashing, masks and vaccines work across spectrums of illness.

Even doing some of the first three some of the time will help.

And there are many options to receive a free vaccine or vaccine booster shot. Your local health department can provide details on that. Currently, only about 37% of Butler County residents have initiated vaccination against COVID, compared to more than 60% at the state level. Vaccines decrease your chances of getting the illness and increase the chances that it will be a more mild case if you do get sick.

You may think these are too much trouble for an illness you may not be that concerned about.

If that’s the case, then don’t take these precautions for yourself.

Take them for the grandfather who sits near you in church and the high school graduation he’s looking forward to attending in May. Do it for the mother with the compromised immune system who just finished breast cancer treatments, or for the toddlers in your family who are too young to protect themselves.

Sometimes it’s easier to tackle difficult tasks when we’re doing it for the people we care about, rather than when it’s just about our personal comfort.

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