Opinion | Susan Knopf: COVID-19 still looms large

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I’ve had my two Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. I was vaccinated at the Summit County bus barn. I’m not sure why everybody asks me where I got my shots.

In just a few weeks, 90% of adult Americans are expected to be eligible to get vaccines.

I’m feeling like the veil of this pandemic is starting to lift. I got together with friends for two intimate dinner parties. I’m starting to feel normal again.

Yet we are being warned by every public health official — local, state, national and international — to slow down. If we’re not careful, another more terrible surge of illness and death could be looming on the horizon. What? How is that a thing?

This week, increases in illness are being reported in Colorado. We’ve gone from average positive tests of about 4% to almost 7%. I don’t get it.

The state lists Summit County at level yellow, but five-star status means you can operate your business at level blue. According to the state’s website, Summit County has the second to worst one-week cumulative incidence rate at 367.9 new cases per 100,000 residents. Our one-week positivity rate is 10.2%. We’re tied for dead last with Custer County. These are not good numbers.

These are not the numbers that scream, “Get together with friends, and leave your masks at home.” The numbers are really bumming me out. I thought COVID-19 fatigue was just some stupid phrase, but I think I’ve got a bad case.

I’ve been able to skirt the issue because I’m a ski instructor. Yeah, we changed the structure of our ski lessons from classes to all privates, but you can still get a family group private lesson. They don’t always live in the same household. They didn’t fly here from the same place. I ride a chairlift sitting next to somebody who was on a plane yesterday. So there’s exposure, but we’re outside. Even if the sun isn’t shining, there are UV rays disinfecting everything, and good breezes moving the air.

I’ve generally felt safe. The numbers aren’t making me feel so safe. I feel like there’s a schism between how I feel and what’s really happening. That isn’t usually my thing. For the record, I usually operate from a fact-driven perspective. Right now, I’m trying to reconcile the optimism I feel and the reality that the numbers are worsening again.

Local Dr. Chris Ebert-Santos shared with me her weekly physician “town hall.” All the numbers are up — transmissibility, variants being transmitted, cases and hospitalizations — in Colorado, across the nation and the globe.

Why are they popping my happy balloon?

The state recently eased restrictions, but it doesn’t appear we can benefit unless we can get to green status. In Summit County, our positivity rate falls in level red.

The county’s website shows 20- to 29-year-olds are suffering the highest rate of positivity. This is one time it pays to be old. The positivity rate for those 60 and older is less than that for those ages birth to 20. I think that reflects the level of caution most of my friends have exhibited. The stakes of being alive weighed heavy. We like living.

In Summit County, the positivity rate for white people peaked March 22 while the Latinx community fared better with little fluctuation.

Ebert-Santos warns patients to remain vigilant by wearing masks, maintaining distance, washing hands frequently and avoiding eating in crowded, indoor spaces.

“We can survive with the restrictions,“ she said. ”We can keep COVID at a reasonable level and keep our businesses open.”

She warns there are very severe, life-threatening post COVID-19 syndromes. A child was diagnosed in the Ebert Family Clinic in Frisco with multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Two children in Colorado have died of this syndrome, according to Ebert-Santos.

Adults can suffer with post-acute coronavirus syndrome, known as long-haulers. Ebert-Santos said that can cause months of “brain draining exhaustion” and “brain fog.”

So please wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance and avoid crowds. I want to continue to feel happy. We just need the statistics to match my mood.

Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.

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