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An Optimistic View from Mayor Degen

By Staff | Jan 20, 2021

What a hand 2020 dealt us! We were challenged to weather a great storm. 2020 is over, but the aftershocks continue to reverberate. I believe better days are ahead.

When all of this started last Spring, like many, I was optimistic. Like many, I thought this pandemic would go away in short order. It hasn’t.

The past year has been, to say the least – unprecedented. This crisis has arguably been the biggest challenge our country and the rest of the world has faced since the 2nd World War.

I believe we can continue to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing, face masks, and good sanitation habits. Scientific research has confirmed this to be true. I encourage all who read this to listen to science and follow those recommendations. Wear a mask in public, and encourage others to do the same. I believe by being smart, we can slow the spread enough to make it manageable.

I applaud our federal government’s response to this crisis. The fact that a vaccine has been developed and its distribution initiated so fast is nothing short of miraculous.

I believe the people of Emmetsburg and Palo Alto County will continue to follow the guidelines recommended by the Governor and local, state, and federal health care professionals.

Live your lives and enjoy time with your loved ones when you can safely do so. We’ve turned the corner, but we’re not home yet. Please be cautious and use common sense.

Our hopes and prayers will be answered. I believe, by the Grace of God, we’ll come through this and we’ll be stronger because of it.

Some will say we’ve lost so much to this pandemic. I disagree. I think a great many of us have discovered a new appreciation for things we may have started to take for granted. Nancy and I have enjoyed so much bonus quality time together. A long walk together is more appreciated than ever.

Please take the time to:

• Thank a health care worker! These people have gone to work every day in uncertain conditions. They do it now and they did it early on when no one had any idea what we were up against. They went to work and they put themselves in the “line of fire” every day. Yes, every day!

• Parents – hug your kids. Tell them you love them. They’re going through this too, and they probably understand more than you think. They need you to tell them things will be OK.

• Call your Mom & Dad or your Grandma & Grandpa. It’s difficult for them to not be able to see their children and grandchildren. They likely won’t tell you, but they’re lonely and possibly scared. They watch the news and know this virus is very likely more lethal to them. Your call will make their day.

• Tell your significant other you love them. If you’ve already told them today, tell them again. Tell them tomorrow and all the tomorrows thereafter. Look them in the eye when you tell them so they know you mean it. And, of course, mean it.

• If you can afford it, tip your waiter or waitress 50%. If you can afford it, tip them 100%. If they didn’t need the money, they wouldn’t be there for you.

• Buy groceries for your elderly neighbor. If you can afford it, don’t let them pay for them.

• Shop locally. Take care of our local businesses. Let’s be here for them today so they’ll be here for us tomorrow. They’ve invested heavily in our community. Let’s make sure they see a healthy return on their investment.

• Hold the door for someone.

• Smile and say “Hello” when you pass someone on the street. Look them in the eye and wish them a nice day.

• Treat people how you want to be treated. There’s too much hate and anger being tossed around in this country. Please don’t contribute to that. Being kind doesn’t cost anything. As much as it makes someone’s day when you’re kind to them, it makes your day even better. Give it a try.

• Again, please consider wearing a mask. If a business has a sign on the door requesting patrons to wear a mask – wear one! If you had a sign on your front door asking guests to remove their shoes before coming in, wouldn’t you expect them to comply? Why then, would it be OK to enter their business and not honor their wishes?

• Please have compassion and respect for those people who are more vulnerable. They have to go to the grocery store, hardware store, pharmacy, etc. Be a good neighbor to them. Make them feel at ease. Wear your mask.

With hope, faith, and optimism, let’s collectively take an optimistic deep breath and welcome the New Year. God bless us all.

Patrick Degen


City of Emmetsburg