Your neighbors might not share your political views, but they’re still your neighbors. They pick up your mail while you’re on vacation, and of course you let them know immediately if you spot any kind of issue that might concern them.
We do this, of course, because we know it’s more important to be a good neighbor than to agree on political matters.
This idea seems to have gone missing in the Minnesota Legislature.
On Saturday afternoon, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that a day after it was revealed that Minnesota Republican state Sen. Dave Senjem tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a Nov. 5 party caucus, Republican senators and staffers were informed in a Nov. 10 memo that “a number of [GOP Senate] members and staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19.”
Craig Sondag, the Senate Republican chief of staff, declined to reveal the names of the infected, citing a balance between the infected people’s right to privacy and the need of their contacts to know they had been exposed. He instructed all GOP Senate staffers to work from home, including during Thursday’s special session.
Caucus members of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is affiliated with the national Democratic Party, were not informed of the rash of cases on the other side of the aisle.
“It is outrageous and completely unacceptable that Senate DFLers were not notified of the recent COVID-19 outbreak among Senate Republicans prior to Thursday’s floor session,” Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, said in a statement. “This lack of transparency is a blatant disregard for the health and safety of others: our DFL and nonpartisan staff, members, and the communities we go home to.”
As we are inclined to do in this space, imagine if the roles had been reversed: If a Democratic legislator had tested positive, if there were an outbreak among Democratic staffers, but their Republican counterparts had not been informed. The nondisclosure would be just as disturbing, just as reckless.
While the disclosure of a COVID-19 outbreak in one group doesn’t need to be a news report, such an outbreak is a conversation that should take place between neighbors.
COVID-19 has no regard for your politics.
It doesn’t care whether you voted for Trump or Biden, or voted third-party, or didn’t vote, or aren’t yet old enough to vote.
It doesn’t care about where you attend religious services, or if you’re not religious. It doesn’t care whether you live in Downtown Racine or rural Waterford. The virus has turned up in schools at both ends of Racine County, in schools both public or private.
COVID-19 doesn’t care about any of your personal information. It passes from one host body to the next indiscriminately. It’s killed 141 people in Racine County, 12 of them in one 48-hour period last week, from 2 p.m. Thursday to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The virus also doesn’t observe state borders. When it comes to COVID-19, the United States of America is a single neighborhood.
We’re in this together. We’re also only getting out of it together.
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