By Jim Smith
State Fire Marshal
I know, right? We’ve been cooped up in our houses forever! We can’t go to movies. We can’t go to restaurants. We can’t go to our favorite watering hole. We can’t even attend our own church on Sundays. Everything has to be done by email, Skype, WebEx, Zoom, and the list goes on and on. So we ask again…how long can this last?
It is a unique time in our world’s existence. Yes, we have had pandemics and plagues before. But this time is different. We have history to tell us what went wrong. We have scientists and doctors who can tell us what to do right. We have graphs. We have charts. We have daily press conferences and briefs. And you can always get the latest and most accurate news from social media – posts from the auto mechanic who says this; the hairdresser who says that; and the trolls who jump into any conversation simply to anger people. Ugh!
Over the past number of weeks, I, Chief Deputy Amanda Swenson, or another representative of the SFMD have been in the State Emergency Operations Center, and I can assure you that the governor, his commissioners and division directors are on top of the critical issues that surround our current situation. The one thing that is quite apparent is that the governor’s executive orders are working to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten out the “surge curve.” There were two choices – keep Minnesota running and see a critical (and deadly) spike in COVID-19 cases, or issue the stay at home order and slow the disease down. Yes, if we did “business as usual,” the disease would spread much more rapidly throughout the state’s population, and we would be able to lift the ban sooner. But the fatality rate would be exponentially higher than it is today. Not a pretty picture. But through the stay at home order, we have been able to flatten out the surge curve, and it’s now going to take longer to get through this.
So hang in there. The stay at home plan is working! In the meantime, wash your hands. Continue to wear your PPE on emergency calls as the situation dictates. Wash your hands. Stay at home with your family. Wash your hands. Stay connected with everyone through the various forms of video broadcasting. And, wash your hands. This crisis will end. We will all climb out of this hole smarter and stronger because of it.
And finally, from the governor on down, we all say “thank you” to each and every one of you who continue to serve the people of Minnesota. Your efforts are greatly appreciated – more than you’ll ever know!