Contrary to political rhetoric, the 20 million coronavirus tests administered so far and posed as an impressive figure, in reality is only 6% of the U.S. population. In Minnesota, approximately 500,000 tests have been done at 10% of the state population. The U.S has not done more testing per capita than any other country. In addition, the well over 2.5 million documented positive cases are thought to be ten times that.

Recently, coronavirus cases worldwide have increased by 1 million in seven days. The U.S., with 4% of the world’s population, has the highest number of cases and deaths, 25% of the world’s total for both. Minnesota is following the national trend of increased cases among the under age 60 group, with 64% of our total cases. Cases are rising in over half of U.S. states. In Northern Minnesota we have, so far, been relatively spared. The low number of cases is allowing for isolation and contact tracing of those infected. But if cases rise precipitously here, contact tracing will lose its effectiveness.

Anyone, you included, can asymptomatically, unknowingly be spreading this virus for which we have no immunity. Young, healthy people may have a mild case, but can be spreading the virus. As public health professionals have pointed out, so far only 5%-7% of the population has been infected. Despite the small percentage infected, over 120,000 American lives have been lost. At least 65% of the population needs to become infected for the virus to slow down. The only mitigation tools we have right now are physical distancing and wearing a mask.

We all need to do our part in protecting those vulnerable people in our community, as well as the front line workers. It’s a simple thing to do and nothing in comparison to the sacrifices our parents and grandparents made during World Wars I and II. And sure it’s a little inconvenient, but weigh inconvenience against the suffering of a severe infection and the damage done by having to be placed on a ventilator in order to breathe. Coronavirus is a highly contagious, deadly virus. Protect yourself, your loved ones and others; please wear a mask in public.