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Other’s opinion: Pandemic waning shows that government works

The Free Press, Mankato

We’re more than 40 years past the day when former President Ronald Reagan famously declared “government is the problem,” but, clearly, during the last 14 months of the COVID pandemic, we must admit government worked pretty damn well.

Let us count the ways:

U.S. scientists spotted the threat of the COVID virus months before it became a reality to political leaders trying to hide its dangers.

Government agencies like the CDC gathered the brain trust they had developed over the years of professional collaboration and began working with pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine based on years of past research on similar corona viruses.

They developed a safe, heavily tested, efficient and effective vaccine in record time. They conducted clinical trials with thousands of volunteers before distributing it widely.

Thousands of local health departments deployed professional and dedicated health workers to conduct testing, tracing and containment practices on a gargantuan scale.

Governors, Republicans and Democrats, led their states thousands workers across different departments to analyze virus spread, speed up purchasing of protective equipment and communicate critical public health and safety information. Minnesota’s daily press briefings by Gov. Tim Walz and health department officials were top notch and far above what some other states did.

Minnesota also led the nation in formation of an unprecedented coalition between health care providers like Mayo Clinic and Fairview, heath researchers at Mayo, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health in an effort to create and assemble a massive testing effort and an impressive equipment purchasing effort.

The federal government and President Joe Biden eventually got competing pharmaceutical companies to work together to more quickly produce a vaccine.

Public safety officials across the country took on heroic efforts to attend to their patients with much higher risk and take on unenviable jobs like enforcing mask requirements and ticketing bars who chose to ignore the law. These “government officials” are the backbone of our public safety.

Educators and school leaders, who also work for the government, met the challenge of distance learning and keeping kids engaged at school and at home. Many made extraordinary efforts to do their jobs and keep kids safe and provide meals and social support.

And government workers across many disciplines continue herculean efforts to administer vaccine, again at record pace.

Government isn’t perfect, but we sometimes need to give credit where credit is due, and the government’s response to the biggest public health crisis in a century showed government can be the solution.