There’s a divide in Park City. Is the Coronavirus (Covid-19) a big deal?
I was in line for some bacon at Deer Valley on Sunday and my seven-year-old asked if the Coronavirus was in Utah. A woman ahead in line interrupted and promptly told him that “he needed to stop watching the news” and that it was “no worse than the cold. “
On the other hand, a trip to Costco will show you people, clad in N-95 masks, pushing carts filled with 50 gallons of bottled water.
So which is it, a hoax portrayed by media outlets to garner better ratings or one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse? In the end, will this be an unfortunate blip on the radar or Spanish Flu part 2?
No one knows. You have to decide for yourself.
In these cases, I tend to follow Pascal’s Wager. For those unfamiliar, Pascal (a 17th-century mathematician and philosopher) argued that a rational person should believe in a God. If you believe in god and there is a god, you are rewarded. If you believe and there isn’t a god, it won’t matter. So, you might as well believe.
In the end, this pandemic will be bad, or it won’t, but preparing, being safe, and taking precautions is rational. That’s what my family is choosing to do. We keep a little extra food around. I have some cheap water sanitizing devices that I bought in case of an earthquake. We wash our hands more. We aren’t flying anywhere right now. We still have birthday parties and go to birthday parties. Our kids go to school. We ski. However, our kids don’t go over to their 70+ year-old grandparents for now.
We live our lives but are a little more careful. You have to do what you feel comfortable with.
Unfortunately, the medical piece is only half the battle. The other half is the add-on effects — which in the end will likely impact more people in Park City. Those manifest themselves in a number of ways.
If you have kids, you may have noticed some after school programs being canceled. The district has sent a survey about internet access at home. Teachers have been instructed to be prepared for sending work home with students should they start spring break a week early. I am counting on schools being closed from March 30 to April 10 (two weeks of spring break instead of one). My only worry is if we can actually make it to March 30.
The problem for us working parents is how do we handle that. Usually, you can send your kid to a camp and still work. That’s not going to be possible here. It will be a big interruption. It may be wise. It may prevent the spread of the disease, but it’s not going to be easy.
Then you look at the economics. The Basin’s economy is based on real estate and tourism. I’m not sure who has the fortitude to come to Park City and buy a house right now, but I’d love to meet them for a glass of High West. As for tourism, Vail suspended their fiscal guidance due to the disease. People are not flying to Park City to ski. If this continues, people are not flying to Park City to spend the summer either. The ripple effect then hits lodging, AirBNB/VRBO, and restaurants. It hits people who help manage properties. It hits people who clean properties. It really impacts non-salaried individuals working across town.
At some point, it’s likely businesses like Woodward will need to limit the number of people coming. Utah has announced restrictions on public gathering to 100 people. This is going to impact them. The only question is whether it then extends to Deer Valley and Park City.
It’s frankly a disaster and that’s probably the good news. The bad news is that the virus will likely be here through the early summer and back again next fall.
So, that’s the situation we are presented with. All we can really control is how prepared we are and how we react to what is presented.
We can debate whether the medical side of the Coronavirus is a big deal, but I guarantee you that the add-ons are as big — if not bigger. There’s no doubt about that.
Please be good to each other. It’s likely going to get worse before it gets better.
Be safe. We’re all in this together.