The importance of the mask

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/16/20

A simple thing like a paper or cloth face mask can be a powerful thing. It can make all the difference in the world. Whether you are a child, a soccer mom, a professional athlete, a local politician …

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The importance of the mask

Posted

A simple thing like a paper or cloth face mask can be a powerful thing. It can make all the difference in the world.

Whether you are a child, a soccer mom, a professional athlete, a local politician or even the most powerful person in the world, it can save your life and those around you if you honor its use. Just think, if President Trump had been a “believer”, he and numerous White House staff and U.S. Senators could well have avoided contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Do you think he has now become a “believer” and will stop belittling his opponent, former Vice-President Joe Biden, or strutting around at campaign rallies with his fellow Republican die-hards without any protection?

I don’t think so. His erroneous “don’t be afraid of the COVID” tweet and the choreographed return to the White House with the dramatically staged removal of his mask tells us plenty.

President Trump could lead by example

If you think about it, Mr. Trump could make quite a difference in the fight to reduce the growing spread of the COVID-19 virus. If he were to start wearing a mask regularly and espouse the importance of protecting other people, I bet a portion of his followers would start wearing a mask in public.

Remember the old adage of leading by example? It’s a shame that it took an incident where he and numerous people around him were not wearing masks and several of them contracted the virus.

Remember another old adage, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”? Contrary to some of the president’s believers, the virus can be deadly. Over a million people have died from the virus throughout the world. In America alone, more than 209,000 fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, young people, neighbors and others have lost their lives from it. In Colorado, we have seen the count inch up to 1,114 deaths directly caused by the virus.

Folks, this is NOT a myth or a conspiracy! It’s real and human beings should practice all of the steps the health and scientistic experts tell us to carry out. As we have observed, even the President of the United States and his wife are NOT immune to this horrific killer.

Tri-County health data

Let’s drill down on reported COVID-19 cases at the county and municipal levels to see where we stand. This data is available every day, but you need to know where to look. The data for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties comes from tchd.org, the Tri-County Health Department website, as well as the state website at Covid19.Colorado.gov and data has been reported as of Oct. 5.

Total virus cases by county stand at 9,870 in Adams County, 9,869 in Arapahoe County and 2,929 in Douglas County. Deaths for the three counties totaled 666.

Adams County is alarming, Jefferson unclear

What is especially alarming is the 14-day cumulative incident statistics. These are cases, not deaths.

Adams County has had 254 incidents per 100,000 population while Arapahoe County sits at 128.2 and Douglas County is at 117.8 per 100,000 population.

As you can see, Adams County is double what Arapahoe County’s statistics are. Why is this? What is Arapahoe County doing that Adams County is not? Both counties come under the jurisdiction of the Tri-County Health Department.

Recently, both Arapahoe and Douglas Counties were successful in obtaining variances from the State which allows more leeway in day to day activities. Adams County was not eligible. Why is this?

I think our Adams County Commissioners need to step up and provide a thorough explanation and develop an action plan with Tri-County Health. Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio assures me the county is pursuing it. We need to avoid going back to a stay at home order from health officials.

Jefferson County does not provide as much detail as Tri-County Health lists. Jeffco reported 5,955 cases with 253 deaths.

Drilling down to the cities

Looking at the municipal level virus caseload among Adams County cities, Thornton has the highest count at 2,235 followed by unincorporated Adams County at 1,884 and then Commerce City at 1,137 cases. Westminster’s count in Adams County only is 982 (Jefferson County Health Dept. is separate and a municipal breakout could not be found). Northglenn has 599 cases and Federal Heights showed 341 cases.

Westminster water/sewer infrastructure and rates

The city council will be treated to four workshops on Westminster’s water and sanitary sewer infrastructure, costs and rates starting on Oct. 8. These sessions are in conjunction with the 2022 water and sewer rates.

As usual, an outside consultant was hired to facilitate the work sessions. I would think someone on staff has the skills to be a facilitator. At the first workshop, council will discuss how to proceed with community engagement on the 2022 water/sewer rate process.

Given the angst, frustration, lack of trust and impact on families’ pocketbooks this summer, the city is wise to attempt to calm the waters as they look ahead.

I don’t know why it takes four separate workshops to get through the morass of information, but so be it. I am glad that the council is not doing these sessions instead of study sessions as there is plenty to address regardless of the water and sewer rate debacle.

The public can observe the rest of the work sessions via the usual remote virtual media. Check the city’s website for details.

Partial openings of Westminster facilities

The city administration previously announced the partial re-opening of City Hall effective Oct. 12. Finally, the city administration is starting to open various city facilities. We know that the weight rooms and cardio equipment at Swim and Fitness Center, West View Recreation Center and City Park Recreation Center are now open. Also, the Westminster Sports Center will open and adult indoor soccer leagues will start October 26.

However, still no word on when the city libraries will open. I continue to be puzzled why Westminster is slower than other municipalities in getting the public’s facilities open. They would argue the same quote as above, that it’s better to be safe than sorry, but why are others able to be open to the public sooner?

Opening Of Westminster City Hall

Also, I heard unofficially that staff and council have decided to return to study sessions and city council meetings in City Hall and be open to the public effective Oct. 19 for a study session.

Again, Westminster has been slow in getting back to open public meetings involving the City Council.

Now, I understand the concern about the COVID-19 and the need to be cautious. However, my sense is that some city officials have been quite comfortable with no public in physical attendance at their meetings. The public has a right to have access to their public officials.

Certainly by now, I would think city staff has gained the knowledge of how to do this in a safe way for everyone concerned.

And yes, wear your masks!

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. You can contact him at bcjayhawk68@gmail.com.

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