Movin’ on Up

I know, I know: I’ve been slacking, badly. But my bike race has reached the Alps, which is the whole point of everything, and I just can’t focus in that many directions at once.

Here is exciting news, I’m sure: Gunnison is one of five counties (out of 64) approved by the State of Colorado to be allowed to move from “Safer at Home” to “Protect Our Neighbors.” So what does that mean? If only I knew.

The Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce sent this information out late yesterday, and provided links, none of which actually explain what this new, less stringent level entails. The only particular even hinted at suggests that gatherings of 500 may now be permissible. Now that summer is over, and most of those large would-be gatherings with it.

[I have not one, but two cats helping with today’s post. It may take until tomorrow to get this out, with help like this.]

Gunnison County was offering a weekly “virtual town hall” Monday afternoons via Facebook. Incident Command took Labor Day off, and announced that it would be moving these town halls to Thursdays at 5 to be more convenient for the general public. The county’s business sector meeting has now skipped the last two Tuesdays, perhaps aware that their last meeting was conducted among 12 participants, a quarter of them county personnel.

Thus, I feel like I am in an information vacuum until today at 5, when presumably the county will expend a lot of time explaining how we got to “Protect Our Neighbors” before getting to what this might actually mean.

I read the links the chamber sent, but it’s all backward-looking: there are the things that have to be available, like adequate health care response, ample supplies of personal protective equipment, enough testing (based on poor American standards). None of it indicates whether anything really changes under this “less stringent” status.

The county has continued to update its “By the Numbers” dashboard, which shows 75 pending tests, but so far, not a single positive test for covid-19 in Gunnison County since three cases on Sept. 1. Lots of negativity, which in this case is positive — for the moment, 75 tests notwithstanding, we appear to be a covid-free zone.

Now, since there are no national standards and no national interest in accurate reporting of this virus that has already gone away, every local entity seems to be setting its own standard, and our county’s is to only count local cases. I have no idea how many visitors in our county may show up at our testing site, and who, if anyone, counts their case if they should turn up positive, so I don’t know if us laypeople can say for sure that we are really virus-free, at least momentarily, but that is what our numbers are showing.

It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that most of our tests indicate someone is showing up at a testing site feeling like crap. (A few tests are for people going in for surgery or other instances where they may not have any symptoms, but we are not in general doing asymptomatic testing.)

We do appear, however, to have survived the return of college students and the start of in-person school. And we seem to be managing incursions like the customer Kara had a week ago who informed her, “We don’t have to wear masks in Oklahoma.” It’s just as well she said this to Kara, because I probably wouldn’t have been too polite in my response where I would have noted Oklahoma’s infection rate that is 2.5 times greater than Colorado’s.

But Gilly [who, as a total aside, has postponed her departure from Pat’s to the end of the year] took a day trip over the weekend to Hotchkiss, a couple hours west of Gunnison, where she was the only person, staff included, to wear a mask in City Market.

Just yesterday on my afternoon errands I watched two maskless people in succession walk into a business, right past the “Anyone entering must wear a mask” sign. And I can’t decide what I want to do about the place I have banked most of my life, which has made it clear that the employees don’t think much of wearing masks and don’t feel any obligation to wear them unless the teller is dealing directly with a customer. Some tellers: the woman at the walk-up window who has worn hers around her chin for weeks yesterday had given up any pretense of wearing one at all.

Then I look at the numbers, with no positive cases, and now the news that we’re doing such a great job that we’re eligible to move to this less-stringent-whatever-that-means phase, and wonder how big a fuss I should make about this abundance of places I see around town where masks are treated as a lot more optional than they should be.

Maybe I’m just bitter. I wear a mask all day at work, even when I’m the only one in the building, because I thought the point was to keep my breath to myself. Taking the mask off means I’m spewing droplets that can linger in the air for hours. Where customers can walk into them.

As I’m typing this, though, and watching and reading about the bike race in France, while watching the news (we’re lucky anything here might make sense), I see that — for this minute — the current Centers of Disease Control lackey is breaking ranks with his minder (the moron in charge of our country), to say that even with a vaccine, probably not widely available before third-quarter 2021, a mask is perhaps the most important tool we have against this virus.

His assertion was then backed up on CBS by a previous head of the CDC, who said the three W’s are what are going to get us through this pandemic: Wear a mask, Watch your distance, Wash your hands.

Apparently enough of us in Gunnison County have minded our W’s, along perhaps with our P’s and Q’s to overcome the D’s — we can go with Deniers or Dumbasses, I’m good either way — that it’s paying off. How handsomely, I won’t know until the town hall at 5 (unless the newspapers got this information ahead of deadline), but in general we appear to be moving in the right direction. Which is good news.

Here’s good news you probably don’t care about, but I think it’s exciting: A young cyclist from Colorado, Sepp Kuss, has had an outstanding Tour de France, and with three days left in the race may get a top-15 finish. Go Sepp!

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