Guest commentary: Health board chairs ask for focus to return to unity in fighting pandemic |

Guest commentary: Health board chairs ask for focus to return to unity in fighting pandemic

Markey Butler and Greg Poschman
Guest commentary

As chair and vice chair of the Pitkin County Board of Health (BOH), we appeal to our community to focus on and support the core values of the Pitkin County Public Health Department (PH). The job of our state-mandated BOH and PH Department staff is to protect the physical and mental health of our community in the spirit of equity, diversity and inclusion.

We want to underscore these values in light of the unfortunate comments made by one of our BOH members, in order to address the PH staff’s genuine feelings about what has occurred and how the entire BOH will move forward in a way that is supportive of all community members.

With the explicit support of the BOH, our PH staff work tirelessly for the health of our community. To have their efforts, and the established, credible, science-based recommendations to decrease the COVID-19 transmission, compared to the murder of George Floyd, as was expressed in a heated moment by BOH member and town of Snowmass Village Mayor Bill Madsen, or compared to the centuries-long struggle against the oppression of Black Americans — as was expressed by attorney Chris Bryan — indicated a lapse of awareness and respect which must be addressed.

The BOH assures our community that we do not condone such statements. We have asked for and have received a sincere apology from Mayor Madsen. Our community should expect no less from Mr. Bryan and his employers.

We are currently experiencing a growing national death toll from COVID-19. Nearly everyone knows someone who has died from the virus and/or suffered from the long-haul symptoms.

Credible national publications have written about the the current decline in COVID-19 incidence rates, but also warn us unequivocally that now is not the time to resume unmasked indoor gatherings.

The 5 Commitments to Containment are still the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community. We are doing our best to communicate Pitkin County’s guidelines, via many channels, but visit for any information and resources for help regarding COVID-19.

This is our community call for unity in the fight to end this pandemic.

Chair: Markey Butler is the chair of the Pitkin County Board of Health, and Greg Poschman is the vice chair.