The longer you stick around Park City, the more you realize that we are really ruled by two things, the Utah legislature and the Governor. With all due respect to our city and county councils, most material decisions come back to whether our “benevolent” rulers in Salt Lake City will squash us like a bug.
It’s been no different with the Corona Virus. Take Park City schools, for example. It was obvious in late March that Park City schools would be closed for the year. We even wrote an article about that saying we need to plan now, so teachers have time to get ready. We got push back from the school district saying “it’s not that easy.” Then the governor spoke on April 14th and closed schools for the year. Suddenly, it was that easy — at least for the Governor.
This brings us to present-day where Governor Herbert is “opening up” the state. His plan involves moving from the current Orange Phase (moderate risk) to the Yellow Phase (low risk). Summit County, along with four other counties aren’t permitted to move to Yellow — yet. However, it is expected that next week, the Governor is going to grace our county with the ability to move to the low-risk phase.
Here is what that means, courtesy of the Utah Health Department and Salt Lake Tribune.
What I read from this is that we will be back to business as usual. Restaurants will be open. The shops will be open. You can play sports again. Best of yet, don’t bother wearing a mask unless you are not capable of staying six feet away from someone. Who can’t do that?
Yet, I struggle with the logic of this for Summit County. On the one hand, this could be good for our economy. If people return to their old ways of consumption, our economy will bounce back for the Summer. Yet, if people go back to their old ways of consumption, the number of infected will rise. If that rise is too much and coincides with Winter, we are toast.
Imagine what happens if our Covid numbers start to rise in November. We closed our economy with less than 200 people affected per day in Utah. It’s logical to assume that if we consistently rise up to that level again, we’ll close it down again (If not, then why did we do it in the first place?). As we open up, with few real-world restrictions, people are going to come back. With them will come the disease. As people congregate, the disease will spread.
I fear that we are trading short term gains for long-term pains. Yes, it will likely help local businesses in the near-term to be open now. However, if anything we are doing now leads to Winter being canceled, we will have committed a grave mistake. If Vail, Alterra, and Sundance do not generate revenue this season our local governments will be the ones standing in the bread line, alongside us.
I think the Governor is making a huge gamble by going game-on so quickly. Frankly, we need to keep the fear of God in people through November. People don’t get nuance.
I think that’s the only way we stand a chance of making it to the Winter without a spike in cases. It’s the only thing that will keep the whole thing from being shut down.
If you want to see what that’s like, I would schedule a trip to The Park City Musem (once it’s open) and pay attention to what happened to Park city in the 1950s. It wasn’t pretty.