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A year with COVID-19: How Minnesota’s response stacks up

“This is a core issue and seems to indicate ageism at it is worst,” Sundberg said. “We need to value these citizens as much as we do others and that means funding (the Minnesota Department of Health) not just complaining about what they cannot get done.”

It’s been more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Minnesota, changing nearly all aspects of life and many may never return to normal.

Nearly half a million residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, over 6,730 have died of COVID-19 and roughly 26,000 have been hospitalized. Of those who tested positive, almost 480,000 have recovered with some having minor symptoms and other long-lasting illness.

It took less than a year from the first U.S. case of COVID-19 until vaccines to combat the coronavirus were invented and given emergency federal authorization. There are currently three — from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — available in the U.S. and Minnesota has administered nearly 2 million doses.

Jan Malcolm, the state health commissioner under three governors recently reflected back on a year like no other. She got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Wednesday.

“It is extraordinary. It certainly has been an unprecedented year, a difficult year. It has affected everyone in one way or another,” Malcolm said. “We’ve learned so much. When we think back a year ago, we knew so very little about this virus. Some of our early assumptions turned out to be wrong.”

Malcolm noted asymptomatic spread, when someone is sick without symptoms and unknowingly infects others, as one of the biggest surprises. She added that the quickness vaccines were developed were important not to forget.

“Not all vaccine development is successful,” she said. “The fact that here we are less than a year later with three safe and effective vaccines is just an incredible scientific accomplishment.”


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