Here in Sunny Valley, Idaho, in the American ski town where POWDER magazine was born, we have:
– The cleanest air.
– The darkest skies.
– 3000-meter ski hill in the city.
– World famous mountain bike.
– The highest rates of COVID-19 in the world.
In addition to world-class recreation, Sunny Valley, like many other ski cities, is built on social activity and visiting by strangers. From skiing, hiking and cycling with friends to drinking, dancing and shopping with strangers, the fabric of our society is intertwined with physical, cultural and social activity.
Whether you use a chairlift with locals, second homeowners who spend half their time here, or tourists struck by the magic of the mountains, ski cities depend on visitors to function properly. We need this cash flow from outsiders to build our schools and hospitals, manage our lifts, pay salaries and keep our business afloat.
For over 80 years, people from all over the world have come here to get acquainted with the culture of mountain cities. I was born and raised in the fifth generation in Idaho. I started my career as an Seattle emergency doctor until I returned to Jem to work in the Sun Valley Emergency Department.
Since the hospital was built and abundantly equipped with generous donations from people from all over the world who love it here, we can provide many of the same services that are available at the Seattle Evergreen Hospital, which is now at the forefront of the large-scale attack on coronavirus. in USA.
Just a month ago, I thought we were lucky to be so distant; this virus penetrated the urban areas of the country, but was far from our untouched corner of a rural mountain in the west. I called my old partner to hear how our comrades were returning to the infectious war zone in Seattle.
Some of my former employees there are sick, one is fighting for his life from the effects of the virus. The urgency in his voice was palpable, but the threat from the invisible tiny invader still seemed distant to me. We made the right move, or I thought so. Within a few days after our chat, I fell ill and was diagnosed with COVID-19 myself.
After several days of fatigue, intermittent fever, cough, shortness of breath, insomnia, and loss of taste and smell, my symptoms gradually improved. I would not have suffered the same terrible fate as many. Two more of my partners in Ketchum gave a positive result, while others would be put into mandatory quarantine for contact with the virus.
In addition, almost a quarter of our nursing and support staff were on the sidelines from this disease. Our rural hospital was temporarily damaged, which required the temporary closure of our inpatient unit. ER's doors remained open thanks to our regional healthcare system, which filled these gaps with excellent documents and nurses from other departments and other areas of the state.
Sitting at home during my recovery, I was disappointed to watch the online disease tracker continue to grow. It soon became clear that our little piece of Valhalla was one of the most affected areas of the country. Despite the fact that our rural county is sparsely populated, the incidence is higher than in New York and Wuhan, China.
When data began to arrive from all over the country, a trend arose: this pandemic affects skiing cities. Early data showed that Park City, Vail, Mammoth, Crested Butt and Aspen had similar fates. Being an integral direction for world travel in the winter months, these mountain shoots from the life of a big city have proved that they are a breeding ground for international viruses throughout the year, and people are likely to spread them.
When cities such as Seattle and San Francisco started closing schools, some of them living there saw the opportunity to load their potentially asymptomatic families into an SUV and head to their second home in the mountains. Is it possible to make a ski vacation out of the castle, right?
While other rural areas could be more isolated from the pandemic, mountain resorts were destroyed by COVID-19 with one to two strikes; global ski tourists mingled with second homeowners who fled from contaminated cities to these socially active mountain communities who greeted strangers with open arms
And here lies the mystery. How do we encourage social distancing and on-site disposition to manage our limited rural resources while maintaining the economic engine that drives these small cities? Is it right or even legal to suddenly dictate who can come, who can take refuge and who should leave?
To further exacerbate the dilemma, skiing cities have one of the highest incidence rates in the country, and at the same time they are equipped with small hospitals. No one can be sure how this disease got into our city, but we know that these places are not a safe haven. Our incredibly high levels of infection are likely to lead to increased transmission of the virus.
Despite this, people are still flocking here to avoid COVID-19. I am concerned that they are at increased risk of becoming a victim of this pandemic in the very place where they seek to avoid it.
Meanwhile, the pressure on our already limited rural health infrastructure is getting worse. A lot of people went to the Valley of the Sun who now need hospitalization. Who knows if they brought it with them, or caught it here?
It does not matter. Now the important thing is that we are all together.
After about two weeks, when I was glued to the sofa and kept to a constant diet with tylenol and orange juice, I noticed that my temperature had risen and my energy was returning. My delightful public health nurse finally cleared me of the house. I went hiking and skiing; my lungs rose.
Three days later, it was time to return to work in the ambulance. Fortunately, when I returned, most of my partners and many of our wonderful nurses did the same. As a small hospital, we are again in combat uniform. We are ready to take maximum care of everyone who enters our doors. We just need your help. We need to focus on who is here now.
Stay where you are. If you are here, please do not leave or take the virus elsewhere. If you are somewhere else, please stay there so that these small cities can get better.
We know that most people recover from this virus. We also know that for the restoration of the Sun Valley we will need our country tribe, which will eventually return to our trails, shops and restaurants. If you now look out the window at the mountains or skyscrapers, we are all part of this community, which we love so much.
Let's do everything we can to get through this. When this battle is over, all of us interested in this delightful little paradise will be ready to free ourselves and return to enjoying this place together.
This article originally appeared on Powder.com and has been republished with permission.
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