County update: Look how far we’ve come

Beth Melton
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

This has been a year of incredible challenges that has tested us all. We lost 20 of our community members to COVID-19. Many more have experienced the physical and mental effects of the pandemic. We made the greatest shared sacrifice we have ever been asked to outside of wartime. We had so many moments of uncertainty — our sense of optimism and hope rising and falling with the graphs showing the number of COVID-19 cases.

I know that I have not been alone in worrying about my child, having days I didn’t want to get out of bed and feeling the pain of missing my friends and family.

And now, I am incredibly grateful, and after the hardship of this year, I hope you will join me in appreciating and celebrating how far we’ve come.

At the end of April — just over thirteen months after the pandemic hit Routt County — we were finally able to restore full capacity operations for all businesses in the county. This is a huge accomplishment for our community and a testament to our strength and perseverance. As soon as vaccines were available, you raised your hands and then rolled up your sleeves when it was your turn, and now, we are quickly seeing the benefits to our community.

Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton

Over the past year, our community has shown our true colors through innumerable acts of kindness and caring. Whether it was offering to pick up groceries for a quarantined or vulnerable neighbor, donating to LiftUp, howling at the moon in honor of health care workers, buying gift cards to a local restaurant or reaching out to someone who lives alone, Routt County has risen to the challenge. This care and concern for one another is at the heart of the community we all love, and it is why we all live here.

We asked everyone to help protect our community’s health by staying at home, wearing masks, limiting capacity in businesses and getting vaccinated. Our community stepped up in a big way, and it has paid off as we approach a level of immunity that will protect our community from the devastation that this past year has brought. Thank you for doing your part for Routt County.

Of course, this year has not been without conflict. Public health is often controversial — a tug of war between personal freedoms and mutual responsibility. One of my favorite TV characters, Leslie Knope, once said, “What I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring loudly at me.” I am sure we will look back and see things we did well and things we could have done better. I am equally sure that there will continue to be places we will debate. Even more so, I am certain that we are a community that cares (loudly or otherwise), and I am grateful for that.

I hope that, like me, you will take a moment to pause and reflect on how far we’ve come, to think about the mountains we’ve climbed to get here and to consider how our strength as a community has been revealed. After this year of unprecedented challenge, I hope we will all stop to honor the strength and resilience of our community.

Beth Melton serves on the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

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