Virus Outbreak Colorado

Gov. Jared Polis makes a point during a news conference on the state’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus June 24, 2020 in Denver.

Just a couple of weeks ago we observed here that the country’s politicians seemed to be catching COVID-19 at such a fast clip that it had become a workaday development. Still newsworthy, sure, but less and less so. There are in fact now webpages that tally how many members of Congress have tested positive; how many elected state and local officials across the country have done so, and so forth. As reported in The Gazette recently, at least two members of Colorado’s congressional delegation — U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter of the 7th Congressional District and Doug Lamborn, of the 5th — have tested COVID positive.

Arguably the novelty of prominent pols contracting the virus wore off once and for all when President Trump tested positive earlier this fall during his presidential campaign. As we’ve noted, he checked in and out of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington in three days. It was a fairly brief stay given his age, 74, and the higher risk associated with it. Perhaps a more serious bout was anticipated by the press and public because the vast majority of COVID hospitalizations and deaths involve the elderly.

The president had been dismissive of the virus all along — earning admiration from fans and condemnation from detractors — and apparently remains underwhelmed by it to this day. Some of his detractors seemed to feel he should have come across as more chastened following his own bout with COVID, even though it was brief and uneventful. Maybe it could have served as an act of contrition by the president for, in their view, having led so poorly in the national response to the pandemic. Love Trump or not, waiting for him to wax humble about anything, whether his health or his golf game, is probably time better spent on other endeavors.

It was in that context that Colorado’s own Gov. Jared Polis announced last weekend he, too, had tested positive for the virus. So far, it’s what we news folk call a one-day story, i.e., not likely to offer much of an aftermath. All the more so given the fact that as of Saturday evening, Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis were showing no symptoms at all despite both catching COVID. We wish them well and a speedy recovery to the extent either actually winds up ailing from the virus.

All of which lends perspective — even to something as epic as a pandemic. There is of course the plain reality that, like all viruses, this one spreads and is doing so quickly. Recent spikes in COVID cases across Colorado and the country remind us of that.

Hence, the governor’s warning, accompanying his disclosure that he had caught the virus: “…no one is immune from this virus…Now is the time to be more cautious than ever before. There is more of the virus circulating across the country, including in Colorado, now than there even was in the spring.”

At the same time, it serves to remember that overwhelmingly, most people who catch COVID-19 will not need hospitalization; many if not most will not even experience severe symptoms. Indeed, as the Associated Press report on the governor’s case of COVID noted in its now-standard refrain on the virus:

“For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.”

To that, we’ll that add many who catch the virus, especially among the young, are found to have no symptoms at all. Our governor, middle-aged and by all appearances healthy, may well wind up having a similar experience. We hope so.

We note these developments even as the state has dialed up its restrictions on doing business and engaging in wide-ranging other activities. The premise is to ease the burden on Colorado’s health care providers. We once again urge state and local policy makers and other authorities to exercise restraint even as they understandably try to prevent inundation of Colorado’s hospitals. Balance must be maintained between the aim of controlling the spread of a virus — and the need to let Colorado’s economy, and all of society, breathe.

The rising COVID caseload turning up at hospitals is troubling and sometimes turns out tragic. Yet, it is also deeply troubling to see so many Colorado small businesses — many of them the lifeblood of the families that run them — shut down. It is alarming to see so many of our children marooned at home and isolated in “remote learning,” which for many kids remains a pale imitation of the real thing. It is disturbing to think what a toll Colorado’s seemingly never-ending lockdown in all its iterations is taking on our population’s mental health.

At long last, a vaccine is just around the corner. Until then, let’s keep things in perspective.