From the editor: Let’s not panic, but we should be on guard |

From the editor: Let’s not panic, but we should be on guard

Cuyler Meade, editor, Craig Press
Craig Press

Did you read last week’s COVID-19 update? If not, stop reading this and go read that. It’s about the first Moffat County COVID-19 patient death in six months.

First and foremost, while I don’t know them — and don’t even know who they are — I want to convey my most sincere heartbreak to the family and friends of this man. I’m so sorry.

Second, I want to emphasize that this is not cause to panic. It’s terrible news in a vacuum, but in context, it’s a good thing that we haven’t had a pandemic death (if, in fact, that’s what the coroner determines this was) in the county since January. That’s more than half the year that we’ve locally enjoyed a blessed reprieve from the very worst effects of this terrible virus that claimed so many.

But third, and finally, I want to point out something far more concerning from a community standpoint than a single death. While the death is tragic, the really scary number is the hospitalization count.

Last week, eight COVID-19 patients were admitted to Memorial Regional Health. The week before it was three. MRH vice president and COO Jennifer Riley told me Wednesday that, during the height of the pandemic in November and December, the hospital’s COVID ward was booked solid with between eight and ten patients at a time.

That’s seriously alarming.

There are two factors the hospital and other local experts feel are at play here, and one plays into the other.

First is the fact that Moffat County is one of the least-vaccinated counties in the state. Just 30% of those eligible in the county have received at least the first shot. In some counties in Colorado, that number is over 70%, while the average sits above half the population.

That means we’re vulnerable.

The other factor, according to Riley, is increased exposure thanks to the return of something we all love and cherish: Getting together to celebrate life. The sharp uptick in virus activity seems to have followed right in line with the return of festivals and graduations.

It’s so great that fun is back. We went through a long year without a lot of it to be found. Whittle the Wood is back. Grand Old West Days. High school graduations. Sporting events. Rodeo. It’s fantastic. We’re not about to suggest that go away — not for the moment, anyway.

But, to use an analogy that’s about to mean something to us all, if the weather forecast’s to be believed — starting this all back up without getting vaccinated is like standing in direct sunlight on a 93-degree day without a lick of sunblock. This is how we get burnt.

As MRH medical director Dr. Matt Grzegozewski said, the virus isn’t gone. What’s changed is our ability to protect against it. We have 100 SPF sunscreen available to us, and we’re still standing out there in the heat basically naked to the world, so to speak.

The doctors are pleading with us to take up the armor their colleagues in the medical field have forged for us and go into battle with this vicious foe protected. So let’s take up arms. Let’s reverse this startling trend.

It’s in our hands.

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