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Jun 11, 2021

Wednesday, Jun 23, 2021 - 05:26:25

When Will The Pandemic End?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As COVID-19 vaccinations rise, case counts, hospitalizations and deaths have fallen. So, 15 months after the pandemic started, people are beginning to ask: When will it end? Good Question.

“This is not going to have a definitive ending that we sometimes see with outbreaks,” said Jan Malcom, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Health.

“It’s a global phenomenon.”

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It was March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the WHO, the declaration is a way to characterize an outbreak, but it holds no official meaning. It will no longer be considered a pandemic when the worldwide spread stops.

When WCCO posed this Good Question to people walking Bde Maka Ska on Wednesday, the answers ranged from “no idea” to “the end of the year” to “we’re acting like it is.”

Respiratory therapist Ayantu Hassan said most people already think it’s over, but not her.

“We’re still dealing with COVID patients,” Hassan said.

University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm calls pandemics worldwide epidemics – they occur not just one region, but worldwide.

“The challenge we have when declaring a pandemic over is that, in it of itself, it doesn’t really, in a sense, end,” he said, comparing it to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s. “HIV/AIDS didn’t go away, it just became an everyday normally expected problem. At that point, it no longer held it’s pandemic status, because there wasn’t an outbreak around the world. It was what you expected.”

In the U.S., Malcolm says vaccination will be key to feeling like the pandemic isn’t ruling people’s lives. Both state and federal officials are striving for a benchmark of 70% vaccination of American adults.

When asked if reaching that 70% threshold gets the U.S. closer to the end, Malcolm responded that it’s an important milestone.

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“We want to get beyond 70%, but that’s a good amount of protection that gives the virus less place to go and less places to continue to spin off these variants that have to be the thing that we guard against,” she said.

Experts say variants are an important component of how and when this pandemic will end, given the global reach of the virus and far lower vaccination rates in many countries outside the United States.

“We’re seeing new strains of the virus which can reduce the protection of the vaccines,” says Osterholm. “As long as transmission continues around the world, we will be at risk of these variants, or these mutated viruses, so our status today may not be the same status we have tomorrow.”

Malcolm says there are some specific metrics that help state officials determine “caution” levels of virus spread and transmission. Those metrics include the percentage of tests coming back positive, cases per 100,000 people and hospitalizations per 100,000 people. The state of Minnesota just recently fell below caution levels for each of these metrics.

“We do really want to see these measures stay stable for a few weeks before we really feel it’s going to stay at that level,” says Malcolm.

Though it’s up to the WHO to officially declare an end to a pandemic, people across the world have different definitions of what “over” means.

One Minneapolis resident asked, “Is it ending here in the states – to where life gets back to normal? Is it ending worldwide where travel gets back to normal. Is it all countries? And, then it is going to end for good or is it going to come back?”

She added, “I think everyone will get to their own individual endpoint at their own individual timeline.”

Malcolm says an important point to remember is that experts believe the virus won’t ever go away. She says it’s likely that cases will once again rise this fall in the U.S., but many Americans now have been vaccinated and medical professionals have better treatments for COVID.

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“We would consider it to be in a different state – not an epidemic, but endemic,” she says. “Something that’s always there and needs to continue to be managed.”

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Three premieres, a classic and a Wimpy Kid to light up CTC’s 2021-22

“Annie” was originally scheduled to end Children’s Theatre Company’s 2019-20 season. Instead, the rousing, uplifting seven-time Tony winner, directed here by Peter Rothstein, will begin 2021-22, the live and in-person “Tomorrow” we have all been waiting for.

The 44-year-old musical (it opened on Broadway in 1977), set during the Great Depression, remains timeless, a story of hope, determination and optimism. Rothstein notes that it’s also “a celebration of non-traditional and chosen families.” It will run Nov. 7 through Jan. 9, 2022, spanning the holidays. All ages.

The new season also marks Peter C. Brosius’ 25th anniversary as CTC’s artistic director.

The middle of the season is all new. Opening on the smaller of CTC’s two stages the same day “Annie” closes on the big stage, “Bina’s Six Apples” is a CTC-commissioned and developed world premiere, written by Lloyd Suh (“The Wong Kids”) and directed by Eric Ting. Inspired by stories Suh heard from his parents about their experiences as children during the Korean War, it traces the journey of a young Korean girl searching for her family. “Bina” will be a co-production with Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. Jan. 9-Feb. 13, 2022. Ages 9 and up.

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Next up, the American premiere of “Circus Abyssinia: Tulu.” Deratu Tulu was the first Black African woman to win Olympic gold. Circus Abyssinia, which made its CTC debut in Sept. 2019 with “Ethiopian Dreams,” will feature high-flying acrobatics, hand balancing and juggling, sometimes with fire, backed by the beat of Ethiopian music. Jan. 8-Feb. 13. All ages.

Earlier this year, CTC created a video presentation of the children’s book “Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice” to help parents answer their children’s questions about the murder of George Floyd and the trial of Derek Chauvin — which have since been followed by the killings of Daunte Wright and Winston Smith. The video is still available to view on demand for free, with resources for families and educators available. CTC has commissioned the world premiere of a play based on the book. Written by Cheryl L. West, directed by Timothy Douglas, it will open Feb. 27 and continue through March 27. Ages 7 and up.

The 2021-22 season will end with the return of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical.” Based on the books by Jeff Kinney, developed by CTC with Broadway producer Kevin McCollum (“Six,” “Rent,” “In the Heights,” etc.) and first staged here in 2016, it follows a new middle-schooler desperate to improve his popularity ranking and make his mark. We thought the original was pretty rad, and CTC says “Wimpy Kid” has “continued its development” and offers “new surprises,” so we’ll be going back. April 22-June 18. All ages.

Photo by Dan NormanThe 2021-22 season will end with the return of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical.”Full season subscriptions and renewals are on sale now on the web or by phone (612-874-0400). Single tickets for “Annie” will go on sale in July, the rest of the season in fall 2021.

Wondering about COVID health and safety measures? CTC has upgraded its air filters and installed touchless fixtures in all public restrooms. Hand sanitizing stations and electronic ticketing will be available. Protocols will continue to be updated in accordance with state guidelines. There are no plans at present to restrict audience capacity, eliminate intermissions or make them longer. The time between same-day performances will be extended.

The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

Courtesy of MSP Film SocietyA scene from “Rita Moreno: Just Another Girl Who Decided to Go for It.”L Now showing at local theaters: “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.” For years, she was cast in stereotypical ethnic roles, sometimes in brownface. She was raped by her agent. She once asked the Mexican cooks at a Hollywood party for help escaping the predatory executives who were there; they were the only gentlemen she met all evening. Yet Rita Moreno from Puerto Rico survived, thrived, became an EGOT (winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards) and blazed paths in role after role: as Anita in “West Side Story,” as a guest on “The Muppet Show,” as Sister Peter Marie Reimondo in “Oz.” Directed by Mariem Pérez Riera, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eva Longoria, Hector Elizondo and Gloria Estefan, this straightforward, direct documentary chronicles her struggles, successes and enduring star power. At the AMC Southdale and Marcus Oakdale.

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V All week: Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference Reading Series. Held each year in June at Bemidji State University, MNWC went virtual this year and last because COVID. So did its evening reading series. This year’s schedule: Tonight (Tuesday, June 22), Nikky Finney; Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 23), Faith Adiele; Thursday, June 24, J. Drew Lanham; Friday, June 25, Danielle Evans; Saturday, June 26, Jennifer Foerster. (John Murillo read last night, Monday, June 21; his reading will be archived.) All are at 6:30 p.m., free with registration.

Photo by Katrina HajagosStacey Abrams, above, and broadcast journalist Cari Champion talk about voter suppression and the urgency of ending it.V Tonight (Tuesday, June 22), 6 p.m.: Next Chapter Booksellers: An Evening With Stacey Abrams. The occasion: the paperback launch of her New York Times bestseller “Our Time Is Now.” The reason: to hear Abrams and broadcast journalist Cari Champion talk about voter suppression and the urgency of ending it. The conversation will be followed by a moderated audience Q&A. Free with registration.

L and V Wednesday, June 23, through Sunday, June 27: Mizna Summer Film Series: Beirut: Youth in Resistance. Curated by Michelle Baroody and Ahmed AbdulMageed, this monthly film series coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Beirut port explosion. Three documentaries – two short, one feature-length – focus on the youth of Beirut as they live with and resist imperialist and sectarian forms of violence. Includes Jocelyne Saab’s “Palestinian Women” (1974) and “Children of War” (1976), shot near the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War, and Mai Masri and Jean Chamoun’s “War Generation” (1988), shot toward the end of the war. In-person screening 7 pm. Wednesday at the Trylon ($10), virtual on-demand screenings Thursday-Sunday (pay-what-you-can). FMI and tickets.

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