Robert C.Black III’s history of early Grand County, Island in the Rockies, reflected its isolation before the railroad cut through the tunnel. Snowed in a good part of the year, and accessible only over mountain passes, the world passed it by. It is no longer true, and it is especially true in the era of Covid 19. The county has been touched by a few cases testing positive, but all local news reports have a sobering caveat. So little testing has been done, we really do not know the extent of it or if the person near us was a carrier or was already infected. Ski areas draw international visitors and they were the first to be infected by Covid-19. Unlike Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge, Winter Park’s ski resort was not the canary in the coal mine. Winter Park draws mostly from Denver’s urban corridor on the other side of the continental divide. The urban areas were weeks behind them. Therefore we follow the stay at home rules laid out by our governor whether we think we need it or not. Like the rest of the world, our economy and our inhabitants go into hibernation until the virus “washes through”. That is the bad news.
The passage in Congress of trillions of dollars in aid to blunt the economic damage will help us weather the crisis and is welcome, but no money can be a balm to ease fears of the unknown and the inconvenience to our lifestyles. On the other hand, the internet has permitted us to be connected to our distant families in ways we could not have envisioned a few years ago. That is the good news. More good news is that our local community has reached out to isolated individuals and devastated local small businesses and restaurants through the Grand Foundation, Mountain Family Center, the Chambers of Commerce, churches, and county governments.. I personally have been grateful for friends and neighbors who worried I lived alone, a senior senior, with offers to run errands and do grocery shopping. By luck for me if not for him, a visiting family member is stuck in my home for the duration. He reports how impressed he has been that grocery shoppers and post office customers have honored social distancing.
My family is an international one, and I import from Europe for my small business. Fortunately for me, most of my business is conducted as a prime merchant on Amazon. I have worked from home for over 15 years and that routine is little changed now. With family by blood and marriage, business colleagues and Rotary grant non-profit partners in Europe I have kept in touch through a variety of internet platforms. A grandchild in Austria has been working from home for over a month. Friends and family in Croatia are in stay at home mode but received a blow on top of COVID-19 we could not imagine. A major earthquake hit their capital, Zagreb. Some family members are still not back in their homes awaiting confirmation their apartment building is sound enough to inhabit. Fortunately, they were not injured. Their social distancing is strictly observed and their urban grocery stores allow only one customer at a time to present a list for clerks to fill and bring them their orders. The president of a non-profit in Bosnia with whom I worked on a Rotary grant to combat human trafficking by educating girls, reminds me that the stay at home orders are nothing like having to survive the shelling of her home town in the Balkan wars of ethnic cleansing of the 1990s. She and her family lived in a basement for over a year as thousands were killed. For her, this pandemic quarantine is not much of a hardship. A footnote: All four Rotary clubs in Grand County helped make the Bosnia grants 2013-2019 possible Still, others here in the county are also living with their own personal hardships. Keep on reaching out and helping. We will make it through this as a community that cares.