In eight days, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Colorado has increased tenfold. Many thousands of cases remain undiagnosed.
The growing deadly risk to frontline workers in our health care system and service economy is beyond denial. The death toll continues to climb and the U.S. is now the global epicenter of the virus.
I applaud Gov. Jared Polis for instituting a statewide stay-at-home order. I called for this order, not just because my county’s officials were asking for it, but because too many public figures in Colorado have started adopting the president’s bizarre and dangerous rhetoric – promoting paranoia, confusion and conspiracy theories while minimizing the threat to Coloradans of all ages.
In a world of only bad options, the governor’s stay-at-home order is the best one we have right now to save Colorado’s economy. When a state’s hospital system collapses, while simultaneously losing its doctors and nurses because of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), there is no “business as usual” for us to go back to.
As individuals, we have the power to help Colorado weather this crisis. Doing so means giving hospitals more time to prepare for the surge in patients by limiting the spread of the virus.
Anyone telling you that doing so is “cowering in the basement” is dead wrong. What individuals staying at home in self-quarantine are doing is a very difficult – and quite often lonely – act of courage.
I understand the deep need to want things back the way they were. Individuals and families are facing more uncertainty today than we’ve experienced since the Great Depression. But there is no going back. There is no miracle moment where we hang an “open for business” sign and simply carry on. There is only the hard math and the harder choices that come if we ignore that math.
Let’s use Logan County as an example of these choices. In Logan County, there are currently two confirmed cases of COVID-19. The bottleneck in testing makes this number meaningless, but let’s pretend it is true.
In a rural community where a local hospital has only three isolation rooms, what happens when these two cases double? And then when they quadruple, and so forth – spurred on by politicians who say that taking COVID-19 seriously is somehow an act of weakness?
The result will be a county where sick people don’t get beds, ventilators or life-saving medicine. The chances someone survives those circumstances are grim. And when doctors and nurses start getting sick and we lose these frontline workers, the math will become even more cruel.
These are your friends, family and neighbors. These are even your “unelected bureaucrats” who may be easy to take a political shot at, but are the folks who are having to figure out how to save as many of us as they can with the little they have been given to work with.
Sadly, some political talking heads tell themselves they are brave for saying we should ignore the inconvenient facts and pretend the cure is worse than the disease.
Watching the lieutenant governor of Texas tell Americans on national television that our grandparents are surplus to the stock market’s needs was disgusting enough. Even more disturbing, we have a president spreading life-threatening disinformation on a daily basis while playing politics with PPEs.
This becomes deadly when state or local elected officials look to the president’s increasingly bizarre rants as they shape local public health policy and how they communicate to their constituents. It is dangerous and irresponsible. It is why I believe we needed the governor to issue a statewide order.
It’s tempting to believe we are just too different from New York or Chicago for it to happen where we live. Don’t be fooled. Rural communities are especially vulnerable because their health care systems have already been gutted by budget cuts.
We can save lives, and have an economy to rebuild, but only if every Coloradan looks out for each other today. Gov. Polis’ stay-at-home order is deadly serious – no matter where you live. We are lucky to have his steady leadership during this crisis.
State Sen. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, represents District 20 in Jeffco and grew up on a farm just outside of Ault.