Make hay while the sun shines? Or close the doors, and live to fight another day?

That’s the seemingly impossible choice Jackson Hole businesses are facing with a wave of coronavirus cases swelling in the valley.

Visitors are fleeing their home states and flocking here to our idyllic valley, and the economic surge is one that businesses look forward to in a normal year. Yet a pandemic year is anything but normal, and the COVID-19 surge has followed the money.

A prospective visitor emailed this newspaper’s editor Tuesday, asking whether the community could use his tourist dollars or whether he should stay home to protect the health of Jackson residents.

Economic health or physical health is an impossible choice.

As valley businesses navigate these strange and uncharted waters, there are key considerations beyond whether the Teton County Health Department advises closure.

Does the staff feel safe? Do they want to keep working? If employees fall ill or are forced to quarantine because they have come into close contact with someone who tests positive for SARS CO-V-2, business owners may not have the staff to stay open.

These are tough decisions coming precisely at the time when businesses feel pressure to sock away profits that normally would get them through the leaner shoulder seasons.

Many Jackson businesses have done a good job communicating with employees and clients when a positive COVID-19 case forces them to make difficult choices.

There’s no shame in announcing a closure or modified business practice via any and every communications tool: newspaper, social media, door sign. We’re all going through this together.

Here’s what you can expect from the News&Guide as we report on the ongoing pandemic:

Business closures or changes that are communicated from the businesses will be reported. There’s a list at JHNewsAndGuide.com that’s being updated daily.

Individual cases of coronavirus are private medical information unless the individual wants to discuss their case.

Reporters will continue to talk with medical experts, elected officials and community members about how the ongoing pandemic shapes all facets of life in Jackson Hole.

A countywide mask mandate that finally received the Wyoming State Health Officer’s blessing on Monday may help slow the ripples of coronavirus hitting our community. Residents can do their part by keeping their “bubble” of contacts small.

If businesses, individuals and visitors make the best choices they can regarding physical distancing, sanitation measures and respect for each other, maybe Jackson can keep its economy and its health.

This editorial represents the opinion of the News&Guide’s editorial board: Johanna Love, Rebecca Huntington, Kevin Olson and Adam Meyer.

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