Opinion: Commissioners thank community members for their sacrifices | SteamboatToday.com

Opinion: Commissioners thank community members for their sacrifices

Tim Corrigan, Beth Melton and Doug Monger
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Today, we write to you, valued members of our community, to say “thank you.” We are living through unprecedented times. There have been many unexpected events in our lifetimes, but it is hard to believe that anything comes close to the upheaval that has been created by the coronavirus.

We, like all of you, feel frustrated and concerned about the future of our county and our country. The level of uncertainty that we all feel at this time has understandably made all of us on edge and scared as we are unsure what the future holds for ourselves, for those we love and for our community. There is not a single person in Routt County who hasn’t had to make a sacrifice in this crisis. So we say “thank you” to each and every one of you.

This is a crisis like we have never seen — a public health crisis that is not isolated to one part of the country or one part of the world but is a truly global pandemic. It is an emergency that has required all of us to prioritize the health and safety of our community members over economic security —one of the most difficult sacrifices we could be asked to make.

It is surreal to think about how unimaginable this scenario might have been only a few months ago. We thank you for turning your lives upside down in order to help us ensure that our healthcare systems can provide for everyone in need of care.

In order to save lives at both the state and local levels, we and the governor have had to use the powers available to us through executive orders to ensure that public health is protected. This is not a step that the county commissioners or the governor take lightly. Restricting the physical movement and everyday actions of our residents is an extreme action reserved only for the most extreme circumstances.

So again, we say “thank you” to all of you who have exercised voluntary compliance and who have respected the intent and letter of these orders rather than looking for loopholes or requiring law enforcement’s intervention. Thank you for the sacrifice you are making on behalf of our community.

So what comes next?

Like all of you, this is the question we continue to have. We are getting impatient and restless. We want everyone to get back to work, and we want our lives to return to normal. There is not an obvious answer for any of us right now. At some point, things will be back to normal, but we don’t know when that is.

We know we are not there yet. We are committed to opening back up gradually as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so. We know that we cannot remain closed forever. We are also committed to doing what it takes to prevent a second wave of this virus once we get past our local peak.

So again, we say “thank you.” Thank you for trying to be patient even when you are not. Thank you for joining us in tolerating the unbearable ambiguity that we are all experiencing. Thank you for taking a deep breath and continuing to think of our most vulnerable neighbors who need us to keep them safe by being patient just a bit longer.

And one last and heartfelt thanks to those of our community who are on the frontlines every day — those who cannot work from home, who cannot avoid potential exposure — our grocery store and restaurant workers, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, first responders, bus drivers, bankers and many others. For you, and for your families, we remain committed to limiting the spread of the virus in our community through mitigation measures designed to reduce the risk to you and the people you interact with every day.

We know that these are challenging times, and they are especially challenging for those who struggle with mental illness or addiction, who are in abusive homes, who live alone or who cannot afford to pay the bills. If you are suffering, don’t wait to get help, and if you can think of someone who might need you, don’t wait to call them. Thank you to everyone who is reaching out to your friends and family from afar during this difficult time — keep making those phone calls and scheduling those virtual get-togethers, and don’t forget to get outside with people in your household every day.

We all need each other now more than ever, and the only way we get through this together is with love and compassion for one another. We can do that by staying physically distant and socially connected. There is a silver lining in this all, which is that we see that what we are doing is working — we have not seen the spike in cases that some of our peer communities have, and we hope that we do not. As frustrating as it might seem, if we do all this and then nothing happens — that was the entire point.

Now is not the time to back off, it is the time to remain resolute and steadfast in our duty of care for one another — it is a radical kind of caring, a caring that drives us to make significant sacrifice in order to protect one another. So it is in solidarity with all of you and for the future of our community that we say “thank you,” and we ask you to stand with us as we keep up the fight. Soon this will all be behind us, and we will know that this radical act of caring was worth it.

This guest commentary was submitted by Routt County commissioners Tim Corrigan, Beth Melton and Doug Monger.

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