Letter: Let’s enter the ‘protect our lives’ phase
Many of our local businesses are failing due to the government-imposed shutdown. A recent Leeds Business Confidence Index was presented to the Routt County Board of Commissioners that stated that 38% of businesses reported they could not survive longer than 10 weeks even with government subsidies during a partial shutdown. That was nearly four weeks ago.
Instead of the proposed, “Protect Our Neighbor” phase as prescribed by the Routt County commissioners, instead I propose a “Protect Our Lives” phase for the following reasons:
Pandemic-resulting stress, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, delayed medical procedures and undiagnosed illnesses are beginning to take their toll on the community. Local police reports of domestic abuse and other crime and calls to emergency hotlines have spiked recently. Very soon, psychological and sociological maladies will outweigh the impact of the relatively few individuals contracting COVID-19 on our community.
Continued social distancing by healthy people will weaken immune systems making them more susceptible to other viruses and bacterial infections. This will ultimately lead to more sickness and hospitalizations beyond COVID-19. More importantly, it will delay our ability to generate herd immunity that creates a natural firewall against the virus.
Since it’s very likely six times as many people have contracted COVID-19 than have been confirmed, those who have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic will potentially shield those with weakened immune symptoms. This is especially important, because it will be at least a year before a vaccine is available to the public. Clearly we cannot realistically, as a community, sustain a yearlong partial shutdown.
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Finally, we should be quarantining our most vulnerable, not the healthy. More resources should be focused on protecting those in long-term care, those with weakened immune systems and our health care and frontline workers. Yampa Valley Medical Center has yet to have the expected surge, but we can and should remain vigilant by ensuring that adequate staffing, equipment and resources are available when they’re likely needed.
Routt County citizens and businesses are informed and responsible. It’s time to let citizens determine what precautions to take when socializing in the community. More importantly, it’s time to let businesses determine when they should open and what precautions are best for their customers and their staff.
If you feel unsafe, stay home. If you believe opening your business will put people at risk, stay closed. It’s really as simple as that.
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