Record editorial: Officials say it’s almost time to slowly open the economy. Doing so will require a delicate balancing act.
Within a matter of weeks, it appears, Summit County will move into a new phase of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
County officials have signaled the time is approaching to loosen the stay-at-home order and begin the process of gradually opening the Park City economy. It’s a surprising development in some respects, given the county was one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots just a few weeks ago.
It signals that health officials believe the significant efforts to flatten the curve locally are working, welcome news after a month in which the headlines each day seemed only to get progressively worse. But residents should not be lulled into a false sense of accomplishment. We’ve responded well so far, but by no means is it time to declare the danger of the pandemic behind us.
On the contrary, the task before the community now is no less daunting than the tremendous challenges of the last several weeks.
Beginning to open the economy, even in a limited fashion, while the virus remains a significant threat is a delicate proposition. It will require a nimble balancing act.
Done poorly or too hastily, moving in the direction of normalcy could reignite the outbreak and reopen the possibility of falling into the worst-case scenario: overloading our health care facilities with coronavirus patients.
Moving too slowly, meanwhile, is also fraught. It risks unduly prolonging the economic pain that business owners and their workers are reeling from.
Importantly, it appears local health officials will have the ultimate say in how the process unfolds, meaning health data will be used to guide decisions. Public safety should remain the No. 1 priority, as it has been throughout the crisis, outweighing even the vast economic considerations.
To this point, the county has given every indication that will continue to be the case. Its first step is gathering representatives from the business community to craft a framework for how different kinds of businesses can reopen in some fashion next month without jeopardizing public health.
Executing the plan, with business owners and residents closely adhering to the requirements that are ultimately created, will be just as vital as sticking to the stay-at-home order has been in recent weeks. Until the coronavirus has been defeated, through a vaccine or other means, a surge in cases spurring another shutdown remains a possibility.
A new chapter is nearing, one that hopefully will see the other side of the crisis come into focus. But let’s not kid ourselves: The situation remains dire. We must proceed cautiously, heeding the guidance of health officials at every step, lest we inadvertently delay the day we can at last declare victory over this pandemic.
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