As our community enters uncharted territory we need to act preemptively to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection. We must take immediate action to change our daily lives before it is too late, heeding the spot-on direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our local health officials.
Local resources are limited. First responders and medical staff are faced by realities of extremely limited personal protective equipment. Our hospital can support no more than eight to 10 patients with end-stage lung disease at one time. We simply don’t have the resources to have even dozens of local cases requiring long-term hospitalization.
As a community we need to take every precaution. Most local leaders have taken the right position of maximum precaution. Hats off to the leaders of Teton County and town of Jackson, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the Teton County School district (among many others) for cancellations and closures. Those were hard choices that our community needs and respects.
Businesses, nonprofits and schools have made difficult decisions to start spring break or end their winter seasons early. It is absolutely right to cancel all group gatherings immediately and until further notice. Churches, and even the Senior Center, which provide vital services to our aging community, have made the appropriate decision to stop public assembly. Meals on wheels and other services like START ADA shuttles should continue.
We must do our part in reducing and slowing the spread of any illness when resources are inevitably thinner than ever.
Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from anyone you encounter. Create ways for your staff to work remotely if possible. Teach children proper handwashing techniques and to avoid touching their faces. Maximize hand washing frequency and use best coughing and sneezing practice, into the elbow, not the hands.
Regularly, and within reason of available resources, disinfect commonly touched surfaces like door handles, sinks and shared toilets. Mixing 1/3 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water is effective in killing viruses. (Use 4 tablespoons of bleach per quart for a smaller batch.)
Do your best to avoid simple injuries sustained from recreating or daily life. Please be careful. An avoidable ambulance call or search and rescue response drains resources.
Finally, cancel your spring break travel plans. It’s just not worth the risk of exposure, or of bringing illness back to Teton County.
Most importantly, do what you can (and what’s safe) for your friends, family and neighbors. This is a challenging time. Use technology to communicate and make sure everyone has what they need, including emotional support. Together we will prevail in surviving this global pandemic. Jackson is a community unlike any other. By helping one another, we can mount a united defense to keep each other safe.