Haims: Rebuilding Eagle County, once the virus subsides
Our community leaders have done a tremendous job of navigating us through an unprecedented crisis. Their decisive actions and implementation of social distancing, shuttering of businesses, and preparedness at our local hospital and medical centers were huge and important steps to slow the spread within the community.
We should all be mindful that we were a hotspot for the COVID-19 pandemic. Our situation could have looked very different and our future could have been far more complicated than it may now be.
While our leaders have acted in the face of great uncertainty and real danger, it will be our community members that will forge the path out of this tragic event. We will all have to take a clear accounting of the challenges ahead and recognize that only through determination, shared purpose, and resilience will we weather the tumultuous road ahead.
I am not a historian, but I do remember some of my social studies education. One of the most impactful and inspirational speeches I recall from my education comes from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address. My social studies teacher spent weeks reviewing it with my class, and in light of our current situation, I’d like to share a few inspirational lines from the speech:
“Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it.”
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“Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously.”
President Roosevelt’s address to the nation is a great piece of literature. At a time in history when the darkest hours of our nation seemed insurmountable, he lifted a nation and inspired. It may do us all good to go online and read his speech — it is timeless and may remind us that we have faced the impossible before.
I believe our future well-being and economy hinges on our ability to mitigate a resurgence of the virus. We should all be mindful and educate ourselves on what happened with the 1918 Spanish influenza. It receded in summer and then returned with much greater devastation in the fall.
Looking forward, it would be very short-sighted for us to go out and socialize, attend events, and attempt to make up for all these months of isolation. We must remain cautious.
There will be a new normal. What that looks like depends on what happens to COVID-19 in summer and fall and the precautions our community chooses to adhere to in an effort to contain the virus. So, until an effective vaccine is found and made available, our best hope for containing the virus and rebuilding our community is to make sure new outbreaks don’t occur.
As the days and weeks proceed, our county’s stay-in-place restriction will ease, making way for business and our economy to resume. Last week, the county sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment requesting an exemption to Colorado Public Health Order 20-24 (stay at home requirements).
Eagle County is the first county in the state to request such an exemption allowing for gatherings of up to 10 people, non-essential businesses to open with conditions and protocols, and for outdoor recreation facilities to reopen. Our county leaders believe that we can meet these criteria:
- A sustained decrease in cases for at least 14 days.
- Hospitals are safely able to treat patients without resorting to crisis standards of care.
- Testing can be performed for all people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection.
- Active monitoring can be accomplished for all COVID-19 cases and their contacts.
As much of our community benefits from tourism, we need to promote that we are COVID-19 free and because we have implemented the highest level of safety precautions, we are a safe harbor for families to visit.
When stay-in-place restriction subside, I hope we all we proceed with caution.