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Recent news reports are filled with increases in coronavirus transmission in areas that rushed to reopen, and in areas where residents and visitors have not complied with the basic Public Health safe practice strategies. Masks in public, social distancing, limiting group size, frequent handwashing – these and others were described as a modest “price of admission” when Chaffee County applied for variances from state directives several weeks ago.

Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker. Image by Luke Urbine, Arkansas Valley Digital Imaging/AVDI.

We need only to look to some of the other locations for grim reminders of what happens if large numbers of people fail to follow these hygiene guidelines. Sudden spikes in positive test results and new cases aren’t the only consequences.

Once-skeptical governors and mayors are rushing to reimpose stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, and other measures in an attempt to re-contain the spread. History teaches us the second time around is rarely easier or any better-received by the public.

Too, the practical and societal need to reopen our schools later this summer lies ahead. One of the coronavirus spread models predicts a sudden and substantial increase in mid-to-late September, chiefly as a result of schools reopening and adults – parents, bus drivers, crossing guards, cafeteria workers, teachers, and others – not the children, transmitting the virus.

One can logically assume similar scenarios in childcare facilities. This makes the case for safe practices even more compelling.

The takeaways remain the same: Chaffee County has been relatively unscathed by the scourge of COVID-19 precisely BECAUSE our residents have followed the safe practices in sufficient numbers to prevent a widespread outbreak.

This is not the time to drop our guard. The outbreaks in other locales underscore the need for us to remain vigilant to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community from COVID-19. Stay healthy to stay open.

Keith Baker

Chaffee County Commissioner