Regarding revising the Public Health Order:
You state “what is best for public health, is to have a controlled way of introducing disease into a community.” Before the Dept of Health rules to “introduce” a deadly disease into three counties we need to know:
1. In the event that local hospitals cannot handle a planned increase in Covid case numbers, can our overflow patients be effectively treated in regional hospitals, maybe Salt Lake City and Grand Junction, considering those hospitals might also be dealing with rising Covid patient loads?
2. Approximately how many infected persons, a significant number of whom will not be experiencing symptoms, are already spreading the virus in our communities? We probably should not introduce a new set of infected persons (as your letter suggests) before we know more or less how many we already have. In Moab, despite lack of hotel and restaurant services, there are plenty of out of state license plates on our roads and supermarket parking lots. These vehicles must belong to visitors residing in our many second homes or camping illegally. Locals who travel dirt roads, including myself, not infrequently encounter illegal campers. The disease has no doubt already been introduced into Moab by a few visitors (or locals returning from urban areas). Random testing near second home developments and in the City Market parking lot can give us a preliminary picture of the presence of infected persons, including those without symptoms, already present. Shortage of test kits is an enduring national deficiency in our ability to address the pandemic, but is nonetheless an inadequate excuse for accelerating introduction of a deadly disease without data.
Re-opening Moab to increased visitation would be a great help for our local businesses. Considering the limited capacity of local hospitals, re-opening without studying and announcing findings regarding the capacity of regional medical facilities’ to effectively deal with overflow Covid cases is irresponsible. Furthermore, deliberately allowing for “controlled” introduction of infected persons into our communities without obtaining, analyzing, and announcing data on present numbers of infected persons in these communities is putting the cart before the horse. Considering how many out of state persons are currently in Moab, how can we claim to need more infected persons to attain “herd immunity?”
If tourism is re-opened, locals will not be the only people exposed to infection. As infection rates increase, tourists will also be exposed. To ensure the long term health of Moab’s economy we must avoid a Covid outbreak among tourists returning from our town and Parks. Families planning vacation trips during the next months, perhaps years, will be considering health risk when selecting destinations. If opening to tourism in the next weeks leads to Moab becoming known as a “rural” hotspot, our economy will suffer prolonged damage.