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Peterson: Are you in or out?

My 95-year-old memere is on lockdown at her senior care facility on the Front Range. Despite the fog of dementia, she’s aware that something is going on with some virus somewhere. But when my dad called her the other day to check in, she was more concerned about if she was getting lunch.

In a week full of bad news, that sure made me laugh.

Ditto for this meme going around: “Your grandparents were asked to go to war. You’re being asked to sit at home on your couch.”

It’s tough to find perspective at a time like this, but whenever I fret about what a near-complete shutdown of our valley’s resort economy means in the short- and long-term, and how it will impact friends and colleagues, or how my wife and I are going to get through the next three weeks with two high-energy kids, I try to think about my beloved memere.

Because, really, this isn’t about me. And it’s not about you, either.

The challenge of COVID-19, more than anything else, is a personal test for all of us to get outside of ourselves and to do what’s best for the whole.

Don’t take it from me. None other than Mikaela Shiffrin, the superhero who calls our valley home, said just as much this week in a post to her nearly 1 million Instagram followers.

“There is a lot that we cannot control right now, but there are some things that we can control and what we can control, we must control,” she said. “Everybody needs to be conscious and responsible in order to flatten the curve. It is about everyone. I don’t know if it’s laziness or selfishness or ignorance or just general lack of compassion, but we all need to take it seriously, and those who are not need to start taking it seriously now.”

Yes, this is about everyone, and we need urgency in this fight — but getting out of our own way is easier said than done.

Who, among us, hasn’t stocked up on food and supplies in the last week with the single-minded focus of getting what we need for ourselves? Or pouted over the abrupt end of an amazing ski season?

Maybe the worst example of this is the former Florida lieutenant governor who ripped into Vail Resorts on Twitter on Saturday for making the difficult decision to shutter its North American resorts.

“Thank you for making this announcement as we are driving in to Vail,” Jeff Kottkamp tweeted. “Came all the way from Florida only to have our family’s vacation destroyed.”

The ensuing backlash was fierce, prompting Kottkamp to pull down the tweet.   

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis responded with a tweet rich with sarcasm: “Thank you for your deep concerns regarding the health of our residents in the face of a global pandemic, as well as your heartfelt sympathy for the difficulties faced by those who work in the ski industry and hospitality.”

State Sen. Kerry Donovan, of Vail, tweeted: “Hi, Lt. Gov. I represent Vail in the CO Senate. That @vailmtn prioritized the health of our mountain community over profits is a public service. We should be commending, not complaining. But, please keep thinking of yourself.”

Certainly, Kottkamp isn’t the only one. While I’ve been amazed by acts of selflessness in the last week, be it a 9-year-old girl launching a GoFundMe page to raise money to feed needy Eagle County Schools students, or all the sharing of supplies and help on social media, I’ve been equally stunned by some of the selfishness online.

As Polis has repeatedly said, in his addresses to Coloradans, these tough calls — to declare a state emergency, to shutter our state’s prized ski resorts, and to close more than 12,000 bars and restaurants around the state for dine-in service for 30 days, along with gyms, casinos, and theaters — come down to this simple calculus: It will save lives.

That’s it. That’s the math behind the science of social distancing to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that it doesn’t overwhelm our health care system and lead to the type of war-time triage seen in Northern Italy, where the virus has overloaded hospitals, leaving doctors to decide who lives and who dies.

Think about that the next time you want to go on Facebook to complain about your canceled ski trip or rip into the governor or Rob Katz or our local county health officials.

Difficult times make for easy decisions, and it’s as simple as this for every single one of us right now: Are you in or out? Are you in for doing your part to help save lives, or are you just out for yourself? Helping or not helping?

At the Vail Daily, we’re all in. No question, whatsoever.

We’re helping by doing what we do best: reporting, vetting and writing as fast as our fingers can type to deliver you the latest information as the news changes. We’re working with county and state health officials around the clock. We’ve also refocused our “go and do” coverage to provide readers with information on what businesses are still open and how you can stay sane while you hunker down.

And there’s more to come — an FAQ page to answer pressing reader questions, an online chat with top medical experts, and more uplifting stories of how locals are rallying together and ways you can help.

We’re just getting started.

You are not helpless in this fight. As Mikaela said, what we can control, we must control.

Can I count on you to do your part?

Nate Peterson is the editor of the Vail Daily. Email him at npeterson@vaildaily.com.


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