Is It Time to Start Opening Mesa County?
The roar from the crowd is getting louder by the day.
With financial hardship abounding due to closed businesses and lost jobs, it feels like a lot of people are getting anxious to start getting things back to normal, or at least closer to normal.
As of Tuesday, there had been 34 reported cases of COVIS-19 with six hospitalizations, 30 recoveries, and zero deaths. 18 of the cases have been attributed to known contact with an infected person, seven are related to travel, and nine are unknown.
The first thing I would say about this is that we are doing something right. The reason numbers are so low is that we have been vigilant with our social-distancing and have been minimizing our contact with others. There has also been a large number of people taking this seriously by wearing a mask.
Are we out of the woods? Well, the answer to that question is well above my pay-grade. Have we plateaued and flattened the curve? Turned the corner? The best answer to those questions is maybe, maybe not. We don't really know for sure.
Maybe there are some things we could do to get some people back to work and some small businesses flowing again.
Keep in mind, it would be critical that we continue to be vigilant with our hand washing, sanitizing, and staying at home if we have any flu-like symptoms at all. Businesses would need to take steps to make sure their workspaces and customer areas are continually sanitized.
So, maybe we start slowly. We have seen local grocery stores limit the number of customers at any one time. That's a good first step going forward. Movie theaters have already been talking about the idea of filling theatres only half full when things open up.
Maybe restaurants could implement a similar strategy to start by limiting the number of patrons at any one time, and making sure diners are seated a significant distance from others. Folks waiting for a table could wait in their cars until summoned by restaurant staff. Tables, chairs, and booths would need to be constantly sanitized, not simply wiped down with a wet cloth.
How about the service businesses like hair salons, barbershops, tattoo shops, and pet groomers. Screen the customers to make sure they are healthy checking temperatures and visually checking for signs of illness. Limit the number of customers at a given time.
Obviously, restricting the number of customers is going to affect revenue. At this point, isn't some revenue better than none at all? It's not ideal, but maybe that would help bridge the gap until we can truly get back to normal.
Churches could and should implant a no handshaking policy, and make sure parishioners are seated in a scattered fashion as much as possible. I know some of the Grand Valley churches would have special challenges because of the size of their congregation, but many of the churches are small enough they could continue to practice the six-feet-of-distance rule.
I don't even know what to say about schools. That in itself presents many challenges.
Gyms and fitness centers are also challenging because of the nature of the business.
There are many more issues to work through such as concerts, parks and recreation activities, and other social events and activities. I don't have the answers, but I do believe there are viable solutions and options.
Whenever we open things up, whether that happens in two weeks or two months, it's going to require change. It can't be business as usual. We have to make some changes in the way we live and the way we socialize. Maybe hand sanitizer is the new staple that everyone keeps in their car, or on each table at the restaurant. Maybe hand-shaking is going to disappear from our culture.
We have to continue to take steps to protect ourselves and also others. We need to stop going out into public places when we have a contagious illness. That has been happening for years and years and it needs to stop. When you're sick, stop going out! Don't go to the store, don't go to church, don't go to work.
Like everyone else, I'm extremely anxious to get back to normal. But, until then, let's continue to follow the rules that have been laid down so that we can get there as soon as possible.