ICYMI: Reopen small businesses, the backbone of society
Colorado Springs, CO- Congressman Lamborn recently authored an Op-Ed published in the Colorado Springs Gazette about the harmful effects of COVID-19 shutdowns and the need for Governor Polis to allow Colorado small businesses and schools to reopen. Read the Op-Ed below:
Reopen small businesses, the backbone of society
The approval of two COVID-19 vaccines is an outstanding achievement of modern science, innovation, and research. President Donald Trump and his administration have worked diligently and effectively through Operation Warp Speed to develop multiple vaccines in record time.
In fact, Colorado has received shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Millions more doses are on the way. The vaccine must first go to the most vulnerable in our society and to front-line health care workers.
The Great Barrington Declaration, which has been signed by nearly 13,000 medical and public health scientists, is an example of the balance we can reach to simultaneously protect the most vulnerable, maintain case counts below hospital capacity, and allow young and healthy individuals to go about their daily lives.
Our small businesses and our community cannot endure further closing, even if partial. The adverse effects of prior lockdowns have caused many businesses to shut doors permanently. The restaurant industry is critical to Colorado’s economy, providing 10% of the jobs in the state and generating $14.5 billion in annual sales.
Restaurants and bars are prepared and trained to handle public health risks and must pass extensive health and safety protocols. For example, restaurants and bars must pass air-exchange tests, which in many circumstances leads to better air circulation than in crowded homes. Small businesses take the risks to their employees seriously, and it is in their best interest to protect them and their customers.
The continued closure of schools and the use of remote learning is leading to harmful effects in the community. Students transmit the virus at a lower rate than adults, and students perform and learn better in the classroom than at home. We cannot allow our children to continue to learn remotely. Continued remote learning in schools will lead to greater learning disparity, reduced literacy rates, and extreme education shortfalls.
With increased vaccination rates among adults and the vulnerable, students must now return to the classroom. Additionally, sending children to schools allows parents to safely go back to work without the added costs of child care or babysitting. This will strengthen the Colorado economy.
Our hospitals have been on the forefront fighting this pandemic. They deserve our high praise and should receive priority vaccination for their healthcare workers. Colorado hospitals are seeing around 76% inpatient bed use, with only about 16% of inpatients having COVID-19. These numbers are promising for hospital capacity, and we have the ability to combat any surge in cases.
Furthermore, it is not unusual for hospitals to be running near capacity in the winter months as we fight the flu and other respiratory viruses. With the speedy vaccination of front line health care workers, we can eliminate one of the major problems facing hospitals, which is being short-staffed.
Public health policy should revolve around these facts. It is unreasonable to require near-universal vaccination before removing remaining lockdowns. For healthy young and middle-aged adults, the effects of lockdowns — mental health disparity, deaths of despair, increasing substance use, and physical abuse — are more harmful than the virus.
Thanks to Operation Warp Speed, millions of Americans will be vaccinated by the end of January. With a 90% efficacy rate, and by vaccinating the elderly and the vulnerable first, the remaining healthy population can return to normality and be vaccinated soon thereafter.
Congress just passed legislation giving one-time checks to most Americans plus continued unemployment support until March. We sincerely want hurting families and businesses to get through this difficult time. However, Colorado cannot put its hope in the federal government for another round of assistance next year.
With a ballooning federal deficit and increased spending, it is fiscally impossible to continue to endlessly spend. Predicting what Congress will do in any case is highly uncertain.
In addition, Joe Biden has not proposed meaningful ideas on how to deal with the virus other than what President Trump has been doing.
Businesses including restaurants and bars, and schools, must open now. Continued delay is extremely harmful. The underlying economy of Colorado will come back strong if we do this. This is due in great part to our community’s small businesses, which are the backbone of our society. We can follow the science while also restoring the economy.
Enough is enough. It is time to completely reopen Colorado, and allow our small businesses and schools to thrive and grow once again.
Read Congressman Lamborn's Op-Ed as published in the Gazette, here.
Contact: Cassandra Sebastian (719) 520-0055