This is real. It’s finally happened just as I knew it would. I have two good friends who got COVID-19. One is nearby and another 2,500 miles away. They are both in their mid-60s, outdoorsmen and in good physical shape. One is more liberal; one is more conservative.

They both work for themselves, have been distancing, careful and wearing masks when appropriate. But one was luckier, as after getting sick, he was able to stay at home, self-medicate and isolate himself for an extended period. My other friend, not as lucky, originally tested negative but spent days in the hospital and is still in a difficult recovery at home.

He wrote to his friends, “The pain was constant, but seemed to be moving all the time. Now in the finger joints, wrists, hips, knees, now in the muscles, now in the kidney area, as if I’d been violently rabbit punched. Sometimes my teeth ached. The pain was worse and more intense than any flu I’ve ever had and was generally even worse than the aftermaths of the serious accidents, mishaps, and surgeries I’ve had in my life.”

And he has no idea where he caught the disease.

All of us want to keep the local economy going, so whether shopping in a convenience store or a bakery; in the hardware store or auto shop; or in the jewelry store or liquor store; please wear a mask. It’s easy to do. It’s not a matter of “preference” as some businesses in Minnesota have posted on their doors. And it’s not political -- it’s medical (unless you are prohibited from wearing a mask). It’s a state regulation and a lifesaving one at that. We are all in this together, because we are all in danger of getting this disease, and Minnesota is currently in an especially dire position. Please help keep our businesses open, our friends employed, our kids and teachers in school, and all others we care about safe. This is real. Please mask up.