Letter: Make masks mandatory
Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Eagle County Public Health and Environment, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners and the town of Vail.
While COVID-19 has been controlled in Eagle County, much of that success is because most visitors exited the valley by the end of March and the rest “stayed at home.” That however is changing.
Already there has been an appeal to second homeowners to return for extended stays, the mountain is about to reopen, and the town of Vail is seeking ways to regenerate tourism. In addition, the places where people will congregate are opening up as restaurants and bars resume business, stores are reopening, and summer activities increase as the valley is on the verge of moving to “black” status. This combination of more people and more places to congregate could once again facilitate the spread of the virus.
Unfortunately, many of the visitors that will be descending on Vail valley in the coming weeks and months will come from areas where there is still community spread. More than 20 states still have a rising number of cases, some at alarming and even record rates, and there is no way to prevent visitors from those areas bringing the virus back into the valley.
Indeed, regardless of where visitors come from, there is no effective way to monitor their health. And it is becoming ever clearer that it is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain social distancing in public gatherings, as is evident walking around Vail Village. We, therefore, urge you to reconsider the current mask “recommendation” and make masks compulsory for all persons in all public spaces where people congregate and within all businesses open to the public.
Already authorities in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Routt and Summit counties, plus Denver, Boulder, and Boulder County require masks inside buildings open to the public. We are asking that you be more proactive and require masks not just in all buildings open to the public but also in all public places where people can congregate which would include the core public places in Vail and Lionshead. This would not only help protect the valley from a “second wave” but it would be consistent with public opinion and the recommendation of the vast majority of health professional experts.
We agree that it is critical to reopen the valley as soon as it is safe to do so but we want a successful reopening. In March we were an internationally publicized “hot spot.” If we have a disease spike or worse, a second wave, it’s perfect fodder for bad publicity, and the economic damage could be severe.
We are simply asking therefore that you do all within your power to create a healthy and safe environment. A mandatory mask requirement would do that and it would help, not hinder, our attractiveness to guests. By doing so we can actually increase the incentives for visitors to return and for our economy to improve. We can see no logic that supports maintaining the current policy.
Please introduce a compulsory mask requirement promptly. Thank you for considering our request.
David Wahl, M.D.
Heidi Winterell, M.D.
Carol Traut, M.D.
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