By Gene Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

This too shall pass


Gene Johnson, Publisher Emeritus, Press Publications, White Bear Lake, MN

Over the years I would rag on different issues over and over like keeping the countertops clean at home. These days it’s how to stay clear of the virus and how to keep our newspapers running with this fear and businesses closed.

Small business is really facing challenges these days with the required stay-at-home policies. Some of the larger box stores that handle multiple lines of goods have been able to stay open while many of the mom and pop stores have been forced to stay closed.

The question that is going around politically is whether people should be left to make up their own minds for their own safety rather than have government make that decision for them. Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, was overruled by the Supreme Court in Wisconsin.

I recently visited Mayo Clinic, which I do every four months to keep my PSA in control. It’s affected by some cancer cells in lymph nodes that resulted in a prostatectomy more than a decade ago. I am fortunate to have Dr. Eugene Kwon, immunologist at Mayo, who is also credited with the development of the Choline pet scan, a nuclear medicine used to detect live cancer cells in the body.

In my visit with Dr. Kwon on May 14 we discussed COVID-19 at some length. He said we had two choices. Number one, we need to develop a vaccine very quickly and distribute 350 million vials across the nation.

When the swine flu occurred, vaccine was developed and it was wiped out in six months.

Dr. Kwon feels that we are putting too much emphasis and money on testing when we need to get a vaccine developed and distributed.

The other solution is to let natural immunity take over. The older population is more vulnerable than the younger population. Some who get it will survive. Others would die. The best solution would be to get the vaccine developed.

We have had coronaviruses before. The swine flu was a type of coronavirus.

We will need to continue to practice good hygiene and wear a mask whenever we are around other people. This means whether we are shopping, at restaurants, or wherever we go, we need to keep the six feet distance between us and other people. This is also true for the workplace wherever it is possible.

By the way, my tests at Mayo came in favorable. The PSA was 1.4, down from 1.7 in December. Scans showed that my cancer cells that were in the lymph nodes did not change in size.

At all the entrances at Mayo there were people checking your temperature, asking questions on health issues, and issuing a sticker that gave you access to their medical services for that day. Everyone was wearing masks and the chairs in the waiting room were marked with papers on every other seat with a message to leave a seat open. As soon as someone left the seat it was wiped down with a disinfectant. The elevators were marked on the floor with six blocks for people to stand in. The hand sanitizer stations were readily available throughout the facility. At one entrance I asked about how many had any symptoms of the virus. The person monitoring the station said they had one in 500 with a fever.

The bottom line to me is that we are all going to be wearing masks at our work and in public for an indefinite period of time. The best prevention also seems to be washing hands frequently.

There is a lot of ingenuity and creativity at work during this pandemic.

The other evening I was driving by the Acqua restaurant on Lake Avenue in White Bear Lake and I noticed a pickup truck with a table and two people sitting in it having their takeout dinner. They had a table cloth and dishes to make for a beautiful dinner setting. The temperature was not much over 60, but that wasn’t going to deter this couple from enjoying dinner overlooking the lake.

The Zoom app on our personal computer is getting used more and more in regular contacts with family, friends and even business conference calls and meetings. We have planned to meet with family once a week and every other week with a group of newspaper friends. A great way to stay in touch.

So this, too, will pass. We will slowly come back to a new normal and wearing masks may be a way of life.


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