Guest commentary: County leaders say two paths for COVID lie ahead
With COVID-19 cases higher than they’ve ever been, locally, across the state and nationally, our community has a choice to make. We can stay on the current path, which leads back to where we were six months ago with economically damaging restrictions and shutdowns. Or we can all take the pandemic more seriously, recommit to containment, and look toward the future as a place of hope.
A key factor in our communal outcome is the personal choices we each make to combat COVID-19. If everyone believes the rules are great, but that they don’t apply personally, then they will never work. Thinking that “rules are for other people” will compromise our community’s chance for a healthy winter. Now is our opportunity for a new path.
Our choices do matter. Following the 5 Commitments of Containment (distancing, handwashing, masks, staying home when sick, testing when symptomatic) is a proven way to prevent spread. And in the event that you are contacted by your public health department, your cooperation is critical. Your willing, honest participation in case investigation if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 is not only supporting your community, but you are helping prevent the next outbreak.
And there is more we can still do. Right now, data show that informal gatherings are a problem. In this community, we treasure our friendships and our time with each other, particularly in a quiet offseason. So Pitkin County’s newest ban on gatherings of more than five people or more than two households (even if outside, socially distanced, or masked) is a challenge. It’s disappointing to say “no” to an invitation or to step away from a gathering. But these are exactly the choices we all must make. Why?
Because children need to be in school, and in-person school depends on the choices we all make
Because we all want to get out and support local businesses, and a healthy economy depends on the choices we all make
Because skiing is an essential part of mountain life, and a successful ski season depends on the choices we all make
Because gathering together for events, sports and worship builds community, and these activities depend on the choices we all make
Because the valley’s health care system needs to work for all of us, and keeping it from being overwhelmed depends on the choices we all make.
With consistent effort, our community has the ability to change course before winter. Now is the time. When you make a personal choice, think of it as your own contribution to the common good. We can set an example for our visitors and guests, and create a culture of caring for our community for a healthier, safer winter and beyond.
Pitkin County Board of Health is comprised of: Markey Butler, Snowmass Village mayor; Torre, Aspen mayor; Steve Child, Chair, Board of County Commissioners; Karen Koenamann, Pitkin County Public Health; Dave Ressler, Aspen Valley Hospital; Susan Marolt, president Board of Education; David Baugh, Superintendent of Aspen School District; Josh Wolman, Head of School at Aspen Country Day School; Mike Kaplan, Aspen Skiing Co.; Debbie Braun, Aspen Chamber Resort Association; Kris Mattera, Basalt Chamber of Commerce; Town of Basalt; and Rose Abello, GoSnowmass.
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For those of you who follow my monthly missives, and occasionally read between the lines, you may have noticed a trend toward a bit of cognitive dissonance and some internal conflict on my part.