Coronavirus case rates are multiplying rapidly in some states — including our neighboring state of Missouri — so Nebraskans should be watching closely in case any of the highly contagious new variants of COVID-19 make unwelcome entries into the Cornhusker State. If that were to happen, Nebraskans could witness a repeat of the dreary and deadly fall and winter months of 2020. None of us want to go back to mask wearing or to reading those awful reports from Gov. Pete Ricketts, who guided Nebraskans through the pandemic.
We also are weary of health risk reports from our local health departments. Two Rivers Public Health Department did an admirable job telling the public to beware, but the health department also was tasked with telling residents of its seven-county region each time lives were lost to the coronavirus.
It would be wonderful if Two Rivers could say it delivered its final fatality reports a couple of months ago, but unfortunately, it may be necessary to reactivate the health risk warnings and again report about the unfortunate and avoidable COVID-related deaths.
Also, we soon might be wearing masks again — and that includes masks for vaccinated people — because the COVID variants appear to be extra dangerous.
We won’t lie, the short months of freedom all of us have enjoyed have been welcomed. It’s been a great feeling to do normal activities, such as attending church, shopping or visiting the hair salon.
It’s hard to think about the possibility of returning to mask wearing, social distancing and quarantining. If those actions become necessary again, it will become our personal responsibility to take action to avoid infection and keep our loved ones safe.
It will be up to us to take personal responsibility for our own health, which, in turn, will set an example for others. We’ll make our friends and neighbors a bit safer by being safer and healthier ourselves.
In the event that COVID variants invade our state, here’s what we all can do to make Nebraska safer:
n Get vaccinated. Shots are free and easy to get, and they’ll protect against serious illness for most of the people who get their shots.
n Deal in facts. While considering whether to be vaccinated, be discerning with the information you use in your decision. There are a lot of lies steering people in the wrong direction.
n After getting your shot, carry verification of your vaccination. If you travel you could encounter places where COVID is rampant and businesses want to know your status.
Finally, think seriously about masking your kids and yourself in public places. Our schools’ and businesses’ safety plans may be based on the belief that coronavirus dangers have passed. However, with variants now spreading, there’s still the potential for a rapidly evolving health and safety landscape.