PI Editorial: Back to square yellow in Garfield County, but why?
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment moved Garfield County back to yellow on Tuesday.
We’ve been supportive of following the state’s guidance via the dial throughout the pandemic, but even we are puzzled by this recent move. The dial itself is slated for “retirement” April 16, so we can’t help but see an end in sight to the move to yellow, no matter what our COVID-19 statistics show.
Garfield County is almost certain to come up with its own version of a COVID dial — that’s what CDPHE recommends to do after the state dial is phased out — but we’re very skeptical that our Garfield County commissioners will choose to mirror the state’s approach. In other words, don’t expect them to be as stringent with COVID-19 protocols as the state.
So, again: why is the state moving us to yellow now?
Obviously the simple answer is that two of the three major metrics show Garfield County in yellow, but the implementation of the various color levels have been anything but simple since their inception. In other words, we strongly suspect the state could use more discretion than what is being deployed right now.
The move also comes at a time when Glenwood Springs is bustling with visitors. Spring break is definitely a part of that, but we also see a generally more relaxed attitude locally. While we certainly aren’t out of the COVID-19 woods yet, we completely understand why people would be more likely to go on recreational trips now. It’s been a long, long year-plus of pandemic pain and we’re far enough removed from the rising tide of cases in early winter that people likely just feel safer. That behavior isn’t going to change merely because CDPHE declared Garfield County yellow.
The reality is, we wouldn’t be surprised if this is a precursor to Colorado keeping the COVID dial around a while longer. If that happens, we’ll be disappointed at the lack of message discipline from the state. No one forced the Polis administration to announce the dial’s retirement, and we would have preferred nothing at all on the matter as opposed to having to walk that back later this spring.
All that said, it is important for us to keep doing what we need to do to be safe even as we reopen and welcome more and more tourists back to Garfield County. Have fun and enjoy the area, but keep those masks handy for visiting local businesses and where social distancing isn’t possible.
We know, we know — we’re tired of them too — but if we keep our guard up for a while longer until we reach herd immunity through vaccinations and those who’ve developed natural antibodies after infection, we’ll be able to get fully back to normal that much sooner.
The Post Independent Editorial Board consists of Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann and Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud.
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