Maybe a COVID side effect for me is turning my political mindset more Libertarian. COVID, whether we admit it or not, is a political hot bed. From mandatory vaccinations to wearing masks, social distancing, and so on. I was asked one day when defending one of my newspaper’s need for weekly data to update our readers, ‘Dennis, when do we just start living with COVID? It’s not going anywhere.’

Well, there is living with the disease and then there’s burying our head in the sand. But now the question I ask is how often do we need updates? It’s been some time since Montrose County has maintained a daily COVID dashboard on their website. Now they link you to the State website which allows you to break down the data by county. Almost every aspect of your needs to keep COVID informed is there. Same with Delta County who as of Oct 18 provides COVID updates via a weekly email.

The email is received on Mondays usually just after 5 p.m. In the email, Delta County PIO Darnell Place-Wise, via the County Health Department gives us stats such as how many new cases in the past week?

The week prior to Oct 25, we had 125 new cases. What’s the cumulative total? This past week it came to 3,945. What’s the county’s positivity rate? This past week it was 10.9%. How many deaths this week and total throughout the pandemic? This week we suffered two deaths bringing the county total to 81. What’s the situation at the hospital? 13 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and ICU beds at Delta Health are at 67% in use. How much more information do you need? And if you need more, the State website has it. So why does the county need to maintain a dashboard?

That question was put before the county commissioners at their last meeting. They’re under outside pressure to bring the dashboard back. The commissioners began to discuss this when county attorney John Baier advised them against going any further because it wasn’t on the agenda. It’s on the agenda for the next meeting.

Tracking these numbers and analyzing them inside and out on a daily basis isn’t going to change our behavior. It is important to know if cases are on the rise from week to week. And how our hospital capacity is doing. But once a week is plenty.

Here is where I think my brewing inner-Libertarian tendencies may be showing. I believe in getting vaccinated against COVID. I believe we have a duty to keep others safe. I also do not believe that those who don’t get vaccinated should lose their jobs. I also believe that by making vaccines mandatory, whether it’s the employers who have 100 or more employees standard, or even healthcare workers, the government is overreaching. As far as healthcare workers are concerned, don’t we need all hands on deck? Do we really want the added expense of hiring traveling nurses to replace our hometown heroes?

Remember last year when we labeled our frontline healthcare workers heroes? It seems so long ago. At the same time I don’t understand why some won’t get vaccinated. It’s like going into battle without armor.

We are currently in a Covid surge. We should be cautious. We should encourage our loved ones and friends to get vaccinated. Soon those numbers will subside, then likely surge again. We’ve been here before; we’ll be here again.

Schools should keep parents informed if their child was exposed to COVID. Parents should decide whether their child should wear a mask or stay home. The vaccinated should decide whether they want to wear a mask or avoid large gatherings, but they shouldn’t be mandated to do so.

But these are my opinions; you should be allowed to voice your own without being spoken down to for having a contradicting one. I think we should be able to exercise our personal freedoms without interference from others, but at the same time if you’re not vaccinated I hope you do so.

Ponder this final stat; The State of Colorado currently is at a 72.1% eligible people fully vaccinated rate, Delta County sits at 54.1% and Montrose is 54.7%.

Seems like we can all do better.

Dennis Anderson is group publisher for Wick Communications, Alaska and Colorado. He can be reached via email at dennis.anderson@frontiersman.com

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