Romer: Let’s finish strong
We are quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of the day when COVID-19 got real for Eagle County. Through January and early February of 2020, worries over the coronavirus then spreading in China’s Hubei province were growing, but outside of our health care professionals it was not something that impacted our business or daily life.
Because COVID-19 was a new virus, it was difficult for health care professionals to determine how to treat those who became sick, or how to prevent others from becoming infected. The best advice, at the time, came down to washing hands, staying home if feeling ill, and avoiding large gatherings — which manifested in the term “social distancing.” As more became known, we were encouraged and then required to wear masks to reduce the spread.
Little did we know that one year later, government – at the federal, state, and local levels – has stepped up in ways we could not have fathomed we would need. Vaccines and diagnostics have been developed and rolled out, at record speed, thanks to public-private sector collaboration.
Last Friday, Gov. Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s efforts to vaccinate Coloradans and announced Colorado’s efforts to move into Phase 1B3 of the vaccine prioritization plan will begin on Friday, March 5, which now includes current agriculture and grocery store workers, Coloradans aged 60 and older, and Coloradans aged 16-59 with two or more comorbidities.
COVID-19 anxiety is at a low, with notable declines in concerns about contracting the virus and the financial impact of the pandemic. Meanwhile, optimism about the course the coronavirus situation will take in the next month reached another record high, with 49.1% feeling things will get better and just 13.7% feeling it will get worse. This is a marked change from the start of the year, when 55.9% of Americans were pessimistic and only 20.9% were hopeful about the coming weeks.
The combination of increased vaccination and consumer confidence is good news, as vaccines offer great hope to turn the tide of the pandemic. Good news, as our national and local economy requires consumer confidence in order to thrive. But we’re not out of the woods just yet — we need to remain diligent and finish strong.
It may sound impossible any time you hear the phrase “finish strong.” Our natural tendency might be to settle for the status quo or accept our fate, and when we face big challenges, we often have the temptation to quit or compromise our standards as the finish line approaches. Eagle County has great momentum on vaccinations and our economic indicators continue to trend in the right direction. Yet we must focus on finishing strong for the health of our community and our economy.
Finishing strong is not about being preached to and it is not about scare tactics. The idea behind finishing strong is to recognize a positive message that appeals to our sense of humanity and sense of doing the right thing for each other.
Let’s acknowledge that it’s not always easy for front-line employees to finish out the season strong with so many other things going on, and that it is certainly not easy to continue to focus on the public health challenges that COVID has brought. Let’s also acknowledge that our community is not build upon taking the easy way out, and we can do this.
The light of the end of the tunnel is getting close and momentum is on our side. It is up to us to finish strong.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at www.vailvalleypartnership.com.