Star Tribune

By Anthony Lonetree

In a bid to put the "normal" back in everyday life, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar pulled together three moms on Mother's Day to urge people to get COVID-19 vaccines.

One mom, Josi Hellier of Lakeville, spoke of challenges that can arise even when things seem on track.

Her second-grade daughter Betty and kindergartner Annie returned to school at Oak Hills Elementary only to be quarantined — for a total of 5 ½ weeks, in Betty's case — after COVID cases were reported on their bus and at school.

"I just want my kids to have their lives go on and continue learning … and [to do] what we do and love as a family," she said. "The best way to do that is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible."

The three moms and their kids appeared at a news conference Sunday at Kordiak Park in Columbia Heights as the rate of daily vaccinations is slowing in the state.

Last week, Gov. Tim Walz said he hopes to see 70% of eligible Minnesotans having received at least one dose by the end of June — up from about 60% now.

He plans to lift the statewide mask mandate no later than July 1, but could do away with it earlier if the 70% mark is reached.

Asked about the decline in daily vaccination rates, Klobuchar said she was encouraged by another step announced Friday by the governor's office: letting people walk in without appointments to eight state-sponsored community vaccination sites.

"That'll make a big difference," she said.

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Klobuchar, wary of flare-ups in cases overseas, said she also was "very open" to a proposal endorsed by President Joe Biden to waive patent protections for COVID vaccines so they can be distributed to developing nations.

The other moms who spoke Sunday were a mother-daughter duo: Meghan Maresh of St. Paul and her mom, Sharon Walbran of St. Louis Park. Walbran teaches computer skills to adults and knows the frustrations of not being able to do so in person.

"I'm looking forward to getting back into the classroom with my students," she said.