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Be cautious while getting out

The state’s restaurants and bars are reopening this week, with some restrictions yet on how many people can be allowed inside, how many can sit at one table and how far apart they need to be.

This relaxation of the COVID-19 closure order does not mean that the disease is no longer a danger. It is still out there, and while the vaccines are starting to trickle in, there are still many more who need to be vaccinated before we can truly relax.

Statistics from the Minnesota Department of Health show that 147,645 people in the the state have been vaccinated. We have over 5.6 million people in the state. That’s about 2.6 percent of the population. In Martin County, with a population of about 19,000, only 600 people have been vaccinated. Of those vaccinated, many still need their second dose. The protection provided by the vaccine takes time to build up.

So even people who have received the vaccine may not be fully immune. The virus is still out there, and people need to keep practicing the procedures that are keeping us safe now — wearing face masks in public, maintaining safe distances, avoiding large crowds or close contact with other, washing hands, sanitizing frequently-touched surfaces.

Minnesota’s seven-day positivity average — the percentage of COVID-19 tests over seven days that are positive — has been rising since Dec. 24, even though the rise in cases and deaths seems to be slowing down.

We hope those going out to support their local restaurants and bars will exercise caution. We all want to help these local business people succeed, but please proceed safely.

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