Letters: There’s no need to rush reopening of Summit County
No need to rush the reopening
With regard to Judi Fey’s recent letter “We must open Utah,” I’d like to make three points. 1) Her statement that Sweden is “well on the way to herd immunity” is not proven fact, but the fact is that their lack of any restrictions has recently led to a real upsurge in both confirmed cases and deaths. 2) Your “rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution” have NOT “been stripped away,” as she says. There is no Constitutional right to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater, and there is no right to infect other people with a deadly virus just so you can go shopping or to dinner with friends. Just because you don’t feel sick doesn’t mean you don’t have the virus. You could be contagious, risking infecting others inadvertently, people who might fall seriously ill or even die. And 3) We here in Summit County have done a great job of flattening the curve after a scary March when we had a disproportionately initial high number of confirmed cases per capita. We’re positioned now to watch other places that are reopening (possibly prematurely) and see what happens before we do anything. It’s not like we ever have a booming busy economy in April and May, or even June, anyway. A lot of businesses that might open now could possibly sit relatively empty for lack of much business at this time.
A whole lot to lose
If you look to see the most effective COVID-19 plans around the world, the countries that have far better results than the U.S. have three primary differences: 1) greater access to testing, 2) stricter quarantine regulations, 3) more extended quarantine periods.
It does not make sense why Summit County thinks we can have better results with less public health policy in place.
Rather than loosening restrictions, we should be looking to countries with the most effective strategies and modeling after them.
As of April 24, New Zealand had 1,114 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and only 17 deaths. While it has a much smaller population, 4.886 million, New Zealand has a per-capita infection rate of 0.028% and the death rate in total cases is less than 1%. The U.S. has over 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a population of 328.2 million, an infection rate of 0.3%, about 10 times higher, and a death rate of 5.6%.
How does New Zealand have such good results? On March 23, before a single COVID-19 death occurred within the country, New Zealand entered one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. The lockdown closed schools and all shops other than essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals and banks. Non-essential movement was prohibited, such as travel between islands, and all indoor and outdoor events were canceled indefinitely. Even partners who lived apart were prevented from seeing each other. When New Zealand started to see the curve flatten — it didn’t loosen up restrictions but maintained a strict, but necessary protocol.
Economic repercussions should be a serious consideration of COVID-19 strategies, but New Zealand has paid upfront with its strict regulations and brilliant approach of elimination. If we place immediate economic benefit above long-term public health goals, we are going to experience a second wave and be back to square one.
A “let’s see how this goes…” approach is erroneous and dangerous. We’re not ready to phase in increased human interaction, which offers us little utility but a whole lot to lose.
COVID-19 is different
I have worked in infectious disease (e.g., bacteria and viruses) for 30 years; I hope this information is helpful.
In the letter “We must open up Utah,” the following question was posed: Comparing COVID-19 “to other outbreaks like annual flu, H1N1, and SARS … why did we cause so many problems…”
Here is a partial answer:
For both the “annual flu” and H1N1, much of the population was immune to these viruses (had pre-existing virus neutralizing antibodies). Immunity is conferred by vaccine or previous infection. H1N1 mainly affected those younger than 50 years old because their immune systems had not experienced similar influenza viruses that circulated 50-60 years prior.
SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19) is a new coronavirus (which appears to transmit from person to person more easily than SARS). At this time it does not appear that infection with other coronaviruses provides cross-reacting antibodies. There is still much to learn about this new virus, including the length of protection provided by antibodies developed after infection (i.e. immunity).
This is indeed a challenging time with devastating effects felt by many. I am thankful to live in this community where people are caring and supportive, where there are means for open communication and where we have dedicated local government officials who are making very difficult decisions based on the limited scientific knowledge available.
How an essential service is delivered
The United States Postal Service is committed to delivering your mail and packages throughout the current pandemic. We are proud of our role in providing an essential service to every community. The one constant throughout this crisis has been our commitment to fulfilling the vital mission of the Postal Service — to bind the nation together one delivery at a time.
To help keep you and our employees safe during this time, the Postal Service wants you to know how we’re adapting procedure to promote social distancing:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping a distance of 6 feet or more between individuals. Please allow a safe distance between you and your letter carrier or post office clerk while they are performing their duties.
If your delivery requires a signature, carriers will knock on the door rather than touching the bell. They will maintain a safe distance, and instead of asking you for a signature on the mobile device, they will ask for your first initial and last name. Then, the carrier will leave your mail or package in a safe place for you to retrieve. Don’t try to take your delivery directly from a carrier, and please give them time to walk away before collecting it.
When you come into a post office lobby, you’ll see that we’re limiting the number of customers in the facility to no more than 10 at one time. There may be lines on the floor to help customers in the queue maintain a safe distance from each other, and you may also see a plastic barrier or sheeting at the counter to protect you and our employees. Once you’ve placed your items on the counter, the retail associate will ask you to step back while they process your transaction.
It’s important to note that the CDC, World Health Organization, as well as the surgeon general have indicated there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through mail and packages.
Our mission to bind the nation together is achieved through the tireless efforts and sacrifices of our dedicated employees. The outpouring of support you have shown has had a great impact on everyone at the Postal Service. Knowing how much you care means everything to us.
On behalf of all employees at the Park City Post Office — thank you.
Park City Postmaster
Count the days until November
The good doctor is in. Does anyone know where you can get injectable bleach, Lysol or UV light? Perhaps the commander in chief could make these products available at the COVID testing sites for positive cases. Maybe Trump’s bone spur deferment doc, if still licensed, could write prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine per request for non-veterans, since it seems only us vets die twice the rate of those not receiving the drug.
I very much would like to see the ranks of Trump’s base diminished, but I would prefer enlightenment or epiphany to accidental death or injury at the recommendation of Dr. Trump and his TV network. Maybe the Republican sycophants and Kool-Aid drinkers in Congress could be the experimental group and the Dems the control for the good doctor’s remedies.
When will it come to an end? How did this happen? A non-majority of the country selects a person being totally ignorant of basic science and medicine, one of many non-qualifying credentials. Impeachment was futile as would any attempt be to initiate removal using the 25th amendment. What’s left? Alas, your vote in Utah is meaningless without national popular vote legislation. In the meantime, hold your breath, wash your hands, wear a mask in public, be grateful for competent local government and count the days until November when maybe the voters in other states will give us and the world a chance to redeem faith in national leadership.
In the recent guest editorial “The facts don’t back up the notion that wealth redistribution is necessary,” Mr. Stark paints a picture of a trickle-down economics utopia initiated by hard work and education. No one would argue against better education and a strong economy.
However, his facts are misleading.
In a country torn by partisan thoughts, it’s imperative that we give a full telling. Mr. Stark’s limited facts around income do not account for the wealth he aims to preserve in the title of his piece. America’s top earners only pull in a fraction of their overall wealth from income. This is as low as 10%, with the remaining coming from dividends, capital gains and other sources. Payroll income tax disproportionately impacts the average American.
There is some upward mobility in this country but consider that the lowest three income quintiles in the U.S. are all at or below U.S. median household income. Telling someone living paycheck to paycheck, while working multiple jobs, to “work harder” is disingenuous. Even Hirschl and Rank, (where you obtained some stats) stated clearly that, “It would be misguided to presume that top-level income attainment is solely a function of hard work, diligence and equal opportunity.” Race and class inequality are unfortunate realities we still face in the U.S.
Education is something that all children and adults should have access to. Unfortunately, the cost of higher education is outpacing wages by 8x during the past 30 years (Forbes).
Ultimately, taxing the rich or implementing a wealth tax will not cause slacking off. Banerjee and Duflo won a Nobel Prize in economics for findings such as this. But, it’s for someone much smarter than I to recommend a better path forward. Thankfully, there are bright policymakers from both parties that need to have their ideas heard.
Explore the possibilities
Closing the Main Street post office, while on the surface may appear to make sense, I would argue that the Main Street post office provides much more than just a spot to pick up mail. More on that later.
As an alternative, I would submit that we should instead close Main Street to traffic and open the street to allow our local establishments to set up and serve lunch and dinner as well as the sale of other goods on the sidewalk.
This action would be a great way to maintain social distancing while allowing us to start to get back to a semblance of normal, to bring back some hospitality employment, and sales tax revenue for the city and county. This may not work in the winter, but it would sure be nice this spring, summer and fall. Goodness knows I’d sure like to take my wife out to dinner again soon in a safe open environment.
As to closing the Main Street post office, consider all of the services that it provide our citizens besides just the collection and distribution of mail. Many seasonal workers and those that do not use traditional banking utilize the post office to submit remittances to their families and pay their bills with postal money orders. It is the only convenient place in town to handle the shipping and mailing of packages. If this location is closed, many seasonal workers, Old Town residents and Main Street businesses will have to trudge to the location on S.R. 224, causing inconvenience and more traffic. Not a great solution.
Situations like we are in call for creative thinking. There has been a discussion about closing Main Street to vehicle traffic for the 25-plus years that we have been in town. This may be the opportunity to explore the possibilities.
Preserve the post office
I have heard that there are some who would like to see the Old Town post office closed.
The Old Town post office would be replaced with “gang mailboxes” placed all over Old Town.
If this were to be done, it would create a huge maintenance issue. In the winter, Old Town streets are narrowed by the build up of snow and sidewalks are often impassable.
Who would be responsible for clearing snow to make the gang boxes accessible to the post office delivery personnel and to residents who would attempt to pick up mail there?
Another stated reason to eliminate the Old Town post office was that in the age of COVID-19, it can be dangerous to go to the post office. Eventually the threat of the virus will pass. Permanently eliminating the Old Town post office is not a rational solution to the potential danger of infection.
One other reason stated to close the Old Town post office was decreasing the number of vehicles traveling to it.
In the age of internet communication and Amazon shopping, many of the items delivered by the post office are packages, a good deal of which would be too large to fit into gang boxes, requiring a trip to the post office anyway. If the Old Town post office were eliminated, residents of Old Town and Main Street business owners would have to drive to the main post office on S.R. 224, potentially putting more vehicles on the road.
Last and certainly not least, having a post office on Main Street in Old Town represents one of the last few vestiges of keeping Main Street a functioning center for local residents and not having it just be a place for tourists.
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