Come on, Rock County — be the leaders you're known for being

Guest Editorial

I was recently invited, among other community leaders across the state, to be a Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Ambassador. As ambassadors, it will be our focus to promote and encourage fellow Minnesotans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

I plan to continue communicating through the Rock County Star Herald to help inform, educate, promote and put aside any misinformation that citizens of Luverne and Rock County might have about the COVID-19 vaccine and importance of getting vaccinated.

It was March 6, 2020, that Minnesota had its first positive COVID-19 infection. On April 2, 2020, the Luverne Sanford Clinic had the Luverne community’s first COVID-19 positive infection, and on April 9, 2020, the first positive COVID-19 infection was reported in an area nursing home.

The infections of COVID-19 were on a fast and steep uphill climb. On April 8, 2020, Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had their first COVID-19 diagnosis, and on April 15, 2020, JBS in Worthington had their first COVID-19 infection.

In September of 2020, Rock County lost its first resident to COVID-19. As you can see how fast this virus infected our area population, this was just the start of our pandemic locally.

These COVID-19 infection rates were mirrored and duplicated not only locally but nationally and across the world.

Over the past year, we had weekly Rock County partner meetings with our public health representatives into early 2021. These meetings were pretty grim at first as infection rates and deaths were reported by local, state, national and world health officials.

These meetings were very straight-forward and informative for area elected officials, school superintendents, nursing home health care professionals and health care officials. They gave us information and direction on how to help guide our decisions as we attended with our boards via Zoom.

In Luverne we have always tried to make the best decisions at the City Council level for our community.

This last year is no different in that decisions were made in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in trying to keep the pandemic rates under control, keeping our citizens out of the hospital, and most importantly, trying not to lose any more citizens to this deadly virus.

Losing one was enough; we lost 19 residents of Rock County to COVID-19.

The first vaccine doses were delivered to the Minnesota Veterans Home in Luverne on Dec. 14, 2020. Since then, vaccination clinics have been available throughout Minnesota to help any and all residents of Rock County receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Our current vaccination rates in Rock County are much lower than the rest of the state.

Historically our residents of Luverne and Rock County have been leaders in getting important tasks completed. One of these was the Census 2020. Luverne’s within Rock County finished as one of the top percentages in the state. Our citizens were up to the task of being counted so as to be fully recognized for our population count.

The COVID-19 vaccine percentages for our county are a complete opposite. Statewide, over 63.5 percent of Minnesota residents are completely vaccinated, but Rock County’s vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the state at 48.9 percent!

We are normally leaders, but this isn’t the case with our COVID-19 vaccination rates.

And with the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant taking hold around the globe, I strongly urge all citizens of Luverne and Rock County to step up to the plate.

Be the strong leaders that you all have been as residents of Rock County for generations. You care about your businesses, your co-workers, your neighbors, and most importantly your families. Please do your part and get your COVID-19 vaccination.

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