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Vail Valley Partnership’s Romer: ‘Attack virus, not each other’

July 22, 2020, 9:16 am

Colorado has a small window to turn this around, save lives, and prevent an increase to the already extensive economic damage caused by COVID-19. We are on the knife’s edge — and our neighboring states have shown us what will happen if we don’t regain our footing.

Chris Romer

Goldman Sachs recently came out with a new study that showed nationwide, universal mask-wearing would save 5% of the national GDP — about a trillion dollars of economic activity. The reality of right now is that we need to follow statewide mask ordinances in order to support the economy.

The economy (and innumerable number of lives) depend on our citizens, both locals and visitors, taking this pandemic seriously. The numbers are showing that citizens of Colorado aren’t taking this as seriously as we were in the spring. It may be showing up in your daily lives too — you’re probably noticing a lot more interactions and having more interactions than you were a couple of months ago.

It is our personal responsibility – guided by government – to attack the virus and not attack each other. We need to live the way we did in May – not the way we have been living the past few weeks.

The increasing narrative is that government is a faceless monster against the people that live here. But the government is made up of you and me and the elected and appointed leaders within it are people, too. Having seen the truly overwhelming amount of work and research that has gone into the response and mitigation efforts at a local and state level, I have immense respect for our officials that take quite a public beating simply because people disagree with one or more things they support or oppose.

There is no way to please everyone but there is certainly a way to treat everyone with compassion and respect. What if we assumed good intent for our elected leaders and public health officials? What if we approached legislation and mandates from a perspective of problem solving? Meaning, in order to better address these issues, understand that our local, county, and state officials have good and positive intent.

Our local officials are working with the reality of right now to ensure we have a ski season. Government doesn’t go through the arduous process of entertaining mask mandates or social distancing requirements because they want more control, or they want us to have fewer rights.

These are our fellow citizens and they are universally working with the data available to them. Regardless of political affiliation, they choose to serve our towns, county, and state because they want to make our community better. They want to fix things that are broken and help us grow.

I challenge you to exercise compassion in your language and your behavior. Grant each other the assumption of good intent and understand we’re on the same team. Spend time thinking about what you would do differently from whatever is proposed and how it addresses the problem and share your feedback in a productive and constructive manner, not in an adversarial way. You might discover solutions for big problems often create more problems and what is being proposed is the better choice for the majority and for our community. Recognize that from local leaders to statewide elected officials, the people pushing for change have good intent.

A successful community is built on its people. The reality of right now is that the virus is our enemy and our elected officials are working tirelessly to support our community.

Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com

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