EDITOR’S NOTE: Sen. Sonnenberg takes issue with the safety of dining inside a restaurant “tent.” The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has laid out detailed criteria regarding the use of such tents and outdoor structures. An enclosed tent is considered “indoor dining” unless it has open walls. While outdoor structures, such as yurts, igloos and greenhouses are permitted, diners using such structures must be from the same household, according to state regulations. Also, Sonnenberg refers to the risk of infecting family members during Thanksgiving celebrations. State health officials have consistently warned that the majority of those who spread the new coronavirus do not exhibit or recognize any symptoms associated with COVID-19. Furthermore, the rate of infection has increased dramatically during the last few weeks across the state, make the likelihood of further infection during Thanksgiving dinner celebrations appreciably higher.
My Sunday morning was a picture-perfect day on the Colorado Plains: warm sun, hot coffee, and my beautiful wife, Vonnie. Imagine my concern when the shocking tones of an emergency alert lit up my phone and shattered the peaceful morning.
What could be so urgent, that my government had to send out these warnings to individual cell phones and interrupt morning routines like mine all across Colorado? A medical alert: this region is at severe risk from deadly COVID.
Really?! I had no idea. The past nine months of watching friends and loved ones get sick, while our government gave us random statistics and inconsistent “solutions”, were not warning enough?
It is difficult to trust anything that this government presents to us, and it isn’t hard to see why. The numbers are constantly changing, and the most recent spike in positive cases can be attributed at least in part to an increase in testing and the inclusion of every positive test from those who have already had COVID and are still testing positive for weeks or even months afterwards.
The only consistency in this mess are the inconsistent plans and enforcement from the government and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. What’s worse, these restrictions seem to not make any difference when we compare Colorado to other states whose governments have remained less stringent in their battle of this virus.
The absurdity of some of these restrictions is showcased in the recent mandate to prohibit indoor dining, while still allowing a bar or a restaurant to put up a tent and serve patrons inside the tent. Anyone who has ever camped during elk hunting season knows that air circulates inside a tent, too. Or how does it make sense that the big box stores with their curbside delivery are allowed to remain open, even though their systems often require close contact? Many small businesses in rural areas are fighting for their lives under these insane rules. County commissioners who have lived in fear of this evil empire called CDPHE are now standing up to see if anyone blinks.
There is no question that COVID is a concern — a huge concern — and each of us takes precautions and we act according to what works for us. We determine the risk and act accordingly.
Let’s put this in perspective.
We actually have data that shows if we only drive 30 mph there would be a significant reduction in traffic deaths. Is that next on the agenda of government overreach, remove the ability of citizens to choose to drive at our current, faster speed limits ‘for our own protection’? We all understand that driving is a potentially dangerous activity, and most of us are willing to take the risk to drive at our current speed limits knowing the potential consequences. We know that sometimes that risk is necessary for us to have productive daily lives as we contribute to our communities.
Thanksgiving is upon us, the day President Abraham Lincoln designated to give thanks and praise to God for our many blessings as Americans. The governor has suggested that families getting together for the holiday would be like “putting a loaded gun to Grandma’s head.” His fearmongering and scare tactics should not prevent Coloradans from giving thanks in the manner that fits our families. We truly have so much to be thankful for, and as we do each year, we should evaluate the road conditions, weather and yes, COVID risks to make a decision appropriate for our own families. Don’t let the government tell you how and under what conditions to give thanks; they have no authority to do so.
This government’s mentality is like the guy who found out most car accidents happen within 20 miles of home – so he moved.
Please be safe in whatever way you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving and as we give thanks, may God bless us all.
State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling represents Senate District 1 in northeast Colorado.