Letter: Require quarantines of second-home owners
The Vail chamber of commerce and other business organizations chose at the beginning of the summer to welcome second-home owners from other states and countries with open arms and without restrictions (i.e. the “Welcome Home!” marketing campaign). As a local resident with a job in a business that improves with volume, I can appreciate the economic concerns that motivated that welcoming marketing tactic. However, I believe subsequent local infection developments have proved it to be misguided.
I’ve noticed local health officials have gone out of their way to claim that the recent spike in testing and cases cannot be traced to visitors. This does not pass the smell test. In the Northeast, where the virus initially took the greatest toll, states such as New York have required that visitors from up to 22 other states with rising caseloads must quarantine upon arrival in New York for 14 days. Despite being home to one of the densest populations in the U.S. and a large number of visitors, New York thus far has not experienced a second surge of cases.
Unfortunately, Eagle County and Colorado can no longer claim a similar reprieve from the virus. While some officials have sought to blame young adults in particular for the current increase in virus spread, the unrestricted welcome to Eagle County visitors is a likelier cause in my opinion. After all, it is local young adults who primarily staff the front line hospitality jobs that cater to the whims of visitors: pouring their drinks, serving their food, cleaning their accommodations. It’s no surprise such residents could become “super spreaders” by virtue of their working proximity to visitors. Work hard and party harder is practically a county motto. And any resident tooling around the valley these days cannot help but notice a large number of vehicles with license plates from Texas, California, Florida, Arizona and other states known weeks ago to be having spikes in their caseloads. Not to mention the proliferating red fleet plates of rented tourist vehicles.
For all these reasons, I urge county and local officials to amend their public health guidelines. The commitments of containment should include a sixth requirement: Out-of-county visitors must quarantine for 14 days without signs of illness before circulating socially within the county. And I urge the organizations pushing the “Welcome Home” campaign for second-home owners to add a similar, large asterisk to their marketing campaign. We all know winters are long here in the Vail Valley, and the next one is no longer very far off. If we do not do more to contain the spread of this insidious disease, both from within and from without, this next winter will be the longest any of us has ever known in all respects.