Many of us have gotten lax; lulled into a false sense of security by consistently low transmission rates of the coronavirus in our communities and a president and vice president who assured us that there would be no second wave of COVID-19 breaking upon the shores of our hospital system.
Yet here we are a week from Thanksgiving with 1,378 people in Colorado’s hospitals seeking treatment for severe COVID-19 symptoms and an additional 165 people seeking hospital care while waiting for their test results. The trajectory for hospitalizations looks dire unless something changes drastically.
Now Colorado’s restaurant owners and workers will pay the price by being forced to close to all but take-out business. Our students will pay the price as even classes for the youngest learners transition to online. Our families will pay the price with the prospect of large Thanksgiving gatherings becoming increasingly unsafe and actually illegal under the orders implemented in 15 Colorado counties this week.
It is the height of malfeasance that Congress and the president have failed to pass another round of emergency aid headed into the winter months. This shut-down right before Christmas will be ruinous for Colorado’s entrepreneurs who may lose their businesses and hard-working families who may find themselves unemployed.
Gov. Jared Polis is trying his best to fill the gap where Congress has failed.
He has used his emergency executive powers to reallocate left-over funds from Medicaid programs to send one-time relief checks to Coloradans who filed for unemployment during the summer and fall months.
And he pledged to bring Colorado lawmakers back to the state Capitol at the end of this month to try to fill the gap where Congress has failed. This is a good idea, but we think lawmakers need to come back and work over Thanksgiving week given what 15 counties are requiring of their restaurants. These businesses may not last until mid-December when any state-passed relief would become available. How are businesses supposed to plan without a clear indication of what is being proposed?
We’re torn between being grateful for the governor’s actions in comparison to the gross negligence exercised by the governors in North Dakota and South Dakota, but also wanting a far more cohesive message than what was presented to the public Tuesday as all of these plans were rolled out.
It wasn’t immediately clear which counties were included in the more drastic changes, or how restaurants and other small businesses would be impacted.
A day later some confusion still swirled.
For example, on Wednesday ski areas in Summit County were anxiously waiting to be told whether they would have to close under the order. These are vital Colorado businesses and drivers of our tourism economy. They deserve to be prepared for these types of orders.
And while retail businesses are limited to 50% capacity, restaurants are reduced to zero. Big box stores are not the ones hurt by these orders; it’s small retail stores that are locally owned.
These are the types of missteps we gave our leaders passes on in the spring when the virus was novel and every country was caught flat-footed and unprepared. We would expect by now for the roll-out of these sweeping regulations to be fine-tuned and dialed in at this point.
We need clearer messaging, quicker action to stave off the effects of these orders and everyone in Colorado to increase their efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
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