A comment from a local physician recently really stuck with me: “We are in as good of shape as anywhere in the country.” 

He was referring to the state of local healthcare, but I am convinced his statement equally applies to the state of our local community as well. 

I have also been pleasantly surprised at the state of the Richardson household through what I refer to as “The Great Hunker Down.” We all miss seeing our friends, but we have at least found rhythm and more family time that had been lacking since our boys entered the teen twilight zone.

One reason we’re in such good shape is because we have taken the threat seriously and obtained roughly 75-80 percent social distancing. That, coupled with hospitals and clinics rapidly transitioning to crisis mode, flattened the curve of the initial wave as well as any community. But I think most would agree that it’s time to transition from extreme social distancing to strategic physical distancing. It may be semantics, but the social impact of the hunker down has and will continue to be significant, to say the least. 

I am keenly aware of the many opinions out there about the hunker down, with some firmly in the “safe at all costs’” camp, some firmly in the “open everything up now” camp, and many opinions in between. My experiences have taught me that there is at least a kernel of truth and wisdom in all of them. 

It is my hope that we can acknowledge that our medical and health industry is only five months into a new virus and our community is less than two months into our first pandemic — the likes of which few, if any, of us have ever experienced. What we know is still dwarfed by what we have yet to learn, and we still aren’t sure how or when we’ll be able to learn what we need to know. 

I think what we are all experiencing, no matter which camp you lean towards, is that life is still frustrating at the moment. Neither the federal, state or local governments have been able to truly evaluate the cost/benefit of safety vs. prosperity and therefore we are still learning as we go. 

Where I suspect there is common agreement is the need to protect the vulnerable. We have learned enough to know that certain characteristics make some much more vulnerable to the virus. We got a crash course in how to protect them and now it’s up to each and every one of us to maintain those practices while health orders begin to ease up a bit. Personally speaking, the minor inconvenience of voluntarily wearing a mask in a store to protect others, seems well worth the “cost” if businesses can ‘benefit’ by having more customers as a result.

As I mentioned earlier, we were able to achieve 75-80 percent last month, and our new goal is to relax efforts slightly to maintain 60-65 percent physical distancing for the foreseeable future. As many have said, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so the better we are at being safe and protecting the vulnerable, the sooner the social connection and quality of life will return. 

As we recently learned through new health orders, more businesses will soon be allowed to open and nearly all will be able to offer more services, depending on how diligent they/we are at hygiene, distancing, wearing masks and other protective strategies. I strongly encourage all businesses to visit garfield-county.com ASAP to download and submit their “social distancing plan.” With exceptions for critical businesses, submitting a plan is required for all businesses. The sooner businesses do this and the more effective their plan is, the faster business can begin to rebuild.

I also want to express overwhelming gratitude to the many, many generous volunteers, donors and mission-driven organizations that have gone above and beyond to support our neighbors in this time of need. As always, Carbondalians find a way to connect, even during a pandemic, and we are doing it while we leverage our incredible time, talent and treasure. I like to think we are remixing Carbondale’s secret sauce, and it’s as sweet as ever!

Make no mistake, life is hard, if not extremely hard right now and it will continue to be for some time. But hopefully you are seizing the opportunity to find new ways to connect with friends, to rethink how, or maybe even where you work, and to reinvent family life. For Holly and me, that means milking our oldest doing the dishes every night for as long as we can!

Have faith that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger than when we entered it. We are Carbondale Strong.