From the Editor: Living life in a pandemic year
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A year ago, we were just learning about a novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. At first, it seemed like a faraway threat, but before we knew it, the virus had arrived on our doorstep, and its impact was swift and very real.
On March 5, 2020, Colorado reported its first case of COVID-19, and 10 days later, the governor ordered ski resorts to suspend operations for one week — closures that ended up becoming permanent as the virus began to rage. From that day forward, our world shifted dramatically, and we entered a new reality of living life during a pandemic.
Businesses were forced to shut down, people lost their jobs, schools shifted to remote learning and parents became homeschool teachers. Those who still had jobs learned to work from home and others deemed “essential” had to keep working despite potential exposure to a potentially deadly virus.
We learned a new vocabulary — disease prevalence, community spread, asymptomatic, flattening the curve, quarantine — and adopted a new way of living with mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand washing. Virtual learning, virtual meetings and Zoom calls took over our lives but offered a lifeline as we struggled to find ways to connect and collaborate from our separate living spaces, which had suddenly become offices and classrooms.
COVID-19 also took a deadly toll. Nineteen people have died from the virus in Routt County — deaths that are not just numbers on a data dashboard but people who lived and loved and left behind family members who miss them and mourn.
The novel coronavirus tested us, and at times, it divided us, but now, as we mark a year of living with it, feelings of hope are beginning to stir.
One in four Routt Countians has been vaccinated, and it’s becoming easier to imagine a post-pandemic life when we can safely gather again in our neighborhoods, in our schools and at our favorite events. I find my mind wandering right now, thinking about what it will be like to listen to one of my favorite musicians play at Strings, gather in Library Hall to hear an author speak about their latest novel or stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the base of Howelsen Hill enjoying one of Steamboat’s free concerts.
It’s natural to want to return to life as we once knew it, but it’s also essential we don’t move on too quickly. It’s important we take time to reflect, to remember and to realize what we’ve learned after one full year of navigating the unknown.
And that’s what the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s “Frontline Heroes” publication is all about. We wanted to mark the one-year “coronaversary,” as some have labeled it, by focusing on how our community responded to great adversity.
We invited readers to nominate their frontline heroes — people who went above and beyond the call of duty in responding to the pandemic — and the number of entries we received blew us away and proved once again that we live in an amazing community full of people who care about one another and step up when times get tough.
These frontline heroes, who include grocery store workers, nurses, caregivers, doctors, public health leaders, teachers and ski patrollers, are the heart of this publication. Their stories and their dedication to helping others demonstrate the resilience that was born of this pandemic, reminding us there is always an opportunity to rise up when life brings us to our knees.
We aren’t diminishing the heartache endured by so many this year, but we’ve chosen to mark the one-year COVID-19 milestone by spotlighting silver linings, lessons learned and pandemic pivots, and the stories and information you’ll read in this section reflect that focus.
It’s also important for me to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Steamboat Pilot & Today staff who were among those working on the frontlines from day one of this pandemic. To date, the Pilot news team has written over 600 stories about COVID-19, and their commitment to keeping the community informed has never wavered even though each of them were impacted personally by the coronavirus. They are professionals, and I am grateful for their journalistic passion, which kept them going during a tough time.
This pandemic has taught us so much about ourselves and our community, forever changing life as we know it. But there’s one thing that remains solid and unyielding, and that is Routt County’s resilient spirit, which is displayed in the pages of this “Frontline Heroes” special section.
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the percentage of staff at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center that are vaccinated.