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COVID pandemic gives us plenty of lessons to learn

The day has finally come. Although Michigan and the local community had been slowly opening due to decreasing COVID-19 cases, Tuesday marked the day when restaurants, entertainment businesses and other venues could operate at 100% capacity, instead of 50%.

It also means limits on large gatherings such as weddings are going “bye-bye,” as is a requirement that unvaccinated people wear masks indoors.

According to a story by The Associated Press, about 61% of people ages 16 and older in Michigan have gotten a shot.

This, obviously, will come as a welcome relief to just about everybody — people who judiciously followed the epidemic orders and people who didn’t because they believed their civil rights were being violated.

Business owners undoubtedly will hope things move back to normal sooner than letter, which is good news considering it’s the tourist season, at least locally.

Tourists and residents alike also should be happy they can enter restaurants the way they used to — without masks and in groups.

The return to normal is a reason to rejoice, but some things should be kept in mind.

Public health should always be a top priority, and the COVID-19 pandemic brought that consideration even more to the forefront. We don’t necessarily have to wear masks everywhere or keep 6 feet away from people in public, but it wouldn’t hurt to wear a masks in places such as hospitals or doctors’ waiting rooms.

It also is a good idea to continue to use hand sanitizer regularly and wash hands frequently, especially after touching door handles and the like. All germs don’t go away just because a pandemic subsides.

What else have we learned from COVID-19? Some workers, such as lower-paid employees, part-time employees and independent contractors, were covered by federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

This is a good time for the Michigan Legislature to rethink the state’s unemployment insurance, including regular UI, and restore the maximum length of time workers can receive benefits to 26 weeks and base the maximum benefit on the average weekly wage, among other changes.

Perhaps the thing we should keep in mind the most is the way many people came together to support each other, such as tipping restaurant servers more than the standard 15%, driving people to vaccination appointments and even symbolic gestures such as putting paper hearts in windows.

Generally, it’s far better to work as a community to get through a crisis than to go it alone, and the pandemic brought out the good in a lot of us.

Let’s keep that good going.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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