As we gather, let's remember

“First thing that I’m gonna do
Is slide on in some corner booth
And take the whole damn family out
And buy my buddies all a round”
“Six Feet Apart” — Luke Combs

Combs co-wrote “Six Feet Apart” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and released it in May 2020. The song peaked at No. 58 in the Billboard Hot 100. The song finished as the No. 71 country song of 2020.

In the lyrics, Combs discusses the basic things in his life that he’s going to appreciate more when he can resume them - enjoying the beginning of spring, giving hugs, and touring with his band.

Do you remember early on in the pandemic when we had a new appreciation for the mundane things that were once part of everyday life?

Do you recall how everyone pushed hard to make sure we could “return to normal” as quickly as possible?

Heck, in Huron and Beadle County, the first “outbreak” of COVID-19 in the state, in March 2020, led to ordinances being put into place at the city and county level, which were more stringent than those being put into place by many states.

Of course, in protest of these horrific rules, there were demonstrations in the street and a recall election for all of the city and county commissioners who made these crazy rules that took away our freedoms, encouraged by the state’s governor who utilizes the word “freedom” more than the word “the” in her speeches...right?

Nope. The community rallied together and went more than 40 days without a single positive test - the longest stretch that Beadle County has seen without a single positive test for COVID-19 until the May to July period this year.

The governor lauded the work of Huron and Beadle County, mentioning the area multiple times in speeches as a model that should be copied by the rest of the state.

Then, after 40 days of success, the restrictions were lifted. Beadle County quickly dealt with multiple outbreaks, one claiming a young mother in her early-20s, still the youngest virus-related death that the county has seen.

The state is now gathered here for the South Dakota State Fair. Three years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, surges have been noted nationwide again due to a new variant, BA.2.86, known as Pirola. South Dakota saw positive tests rise by 14.2% last week, evidence that the nationwide increase in cases is not immune to the state.

Of course, back in March of this year, the public health emergency was removed nationwide, which has led to the statistical data about the virus becoming very difficult to find, at least accurately. The positive thing is that with new medications to treat the virus, the rate of death is significantly reduced, but it still does happen. Deaths are up nationwide by 17.6%.

An updated COVID-19 booster is coming this month. For all of the conspiracy rhetoric about the vaccines, they have proven successful. The main reason that the recent uptick in virus cases has not resulted in increased deaths is because of the effectiveness of both the vaccines and the treatment medications that have been developed now three years into battling this virus.

When COVID first hit, many focused on taking care of their health, from simple things like washing hands and surfaces of the home or office frequently, to intentional measures of visiting Walmart only at non-peak times and keeping distance from others.

That led to one of the healthiest winters on record in 2020-2021, as far as flu, pneumonia, and other seasonal illnesses were concerned. Flu shots saw a notable increase heading into the winter and mitigation efforts for COVID also helped to avoid spreading the influenza virus.

As another strain begins to attack the country and the state, let’s think back to that feeling in early 2020 when we all felt as Luke Combs did - that the basic things in life should be treasured and enjoyed fully.

Enjoy the State Fair while also making sure to be safe for you and yours!