Record editorial: The pandemic is still raging — now’s not the time to get overconfident
Let’s not get overconfident.
Summit County residents deserve full-throated praise for how they’ve adapted to the coronavirus pandemic over the last few months. The response, in fact, has been nothing short of incredible. Businesses shut down for weeks. People stayed home. Residents made sacrifices for the good of the community.
But now that the most stringent restrictions meant to guard against the spread of the virus have been loosened, the danger of a backslide is very real.
And from a statewide perspective, at least, it has already begun.
Tuesday marked the 14th straight day that more than 200 new cases were confirmed in Utah after nearly two months had passed without hitting that mark . The spike, notably, includes a day with 453 cases and another with 557, by far the most since the pandemic started. In Summit County, there fortunately hasn’t been such a pronounced surge — yet, at least — but the eight cases reported Sunday were the most since April 30 when the initial surge was subsiding.
What do the numbers mean? Anyone who thinks we’re out of the woods is kidding themselves.
Summit County, along with much of the rest of the state, may be in the “yellow,” low-risk phase of the pandemic response plan, but as an epidemiologist would tell you, it would be foolish to view that as reason to throw caution to the wind.
That’s one reason many people were concerned when Oakley announced its annual Fourth of July rodeo would be held as scheduled this year, albeit with safety measures in place, such as drastically reduced capacity and a requirement that spectators wear masks.
There’s no doubt that the rodeo is a treasured tradition. The pertinent question, though, is whether the risk is worth it, especially considering that, if the virus were to spread at the event, the danger wouldn’t be limited only to those who choose to attend.
Mayor Wade Woolstenhulme, for one, offered this justification: “We’ve never been a city that’s a bunch of quitters.”
Given the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis and repeated warnings from health officials in recent months about the danger of large gatherings, that rationale does not suffice. Oakley’s elected officials would have been wise to play it safe and cancel the rodeo for one year.
Likewise, the rest of us should proceed slowly, resuming activity with caution and continuing to follow the recommendations of health experts about how to reduce the chances of contracting or spreading the disease.
Summit County, like the rest of Utah, has made it through the early months of the pandemic with our health care infrastructure intact.
But we’ve seen in other states and countries that the situation can spiral out of control quickly. With the finish line in this marathon still not in sight, it’s not the time to get too cocky.
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