One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life. — Chinese Proverb    

I finally agree with my teenager about something these days: This sucks. It’s hard on all of us— the loss of social time, a loved one, income and more. 

When the novel coronavirus began to spread through the U.S., we felt a collective sense of being in this together. Despite a summer filled with visitors, our community took actions to keep everyone safe. We kept our numbers low enough for our businesses, child care and summer camps to operate. After nine long months, we’ve seen that simple steps protect ourselves as well as our loved ones, friends and neighbors. But now the virus, along with the weather, has taken a turn. 

We now have a better understanding of targeted measures we can use to increase our chances of keeping our schools and ski area open, which will enable our local economy to run. We have science and data to guide our decisions. Our small but mighty public health team built a case investigation and contact tracing system that allows us to target the virus. State and private labs improved testing capacity, and the county now has a mobile lab with rapid testing to better identify and isolate those who have been exposed. We have an effective partnership of local government, community organizations and individuals to meet our unmet needs. And health practitioners now understand more about the disease. 

We have made progress, but we need to step it up. The State monitors a Transmission Control rate, which tracks social distancing and public mask wearing, the most effective tools to control this virus. Currently we are at 61 percent as we approach the holidays. We have seen a spike in cases after each holiday during this pandemic. We are approaching Thanksgiving in a dangerous place with case numbers and hospital capacity both locally and statewide. If we each continue to only practice transmission control only 61 percent of the time, we will fill our ICU capacity in late November/early December. At that point or likely just before the entire State will go back into Stay at Home. 

In order to protect our local economy this winter and save lives, we are asking all of you to spend Thanksgiving with your immediate household and travel only when it is essential. Think of it as brightening the corner where you are. Suppressing the virus immediately increases our chances of allowing visitors here in a month, which will keep our local economies alive this winter. 

Your patience and diligence now could help save our economy and a life.