Here’s a sampling of client emails that were awaiting me when I exited the field late last week, with commentary below that:
(Names have been changed in the interest of privacy.)
After much deliberation I have reluctantly decided to forgo my participation in the Colorado Adventure this year. I am aware of the disruption this causes with planning, logistics and finances on your end but — as the numbers rise — I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the travel involved. I think the hike itself will be low risk, but for me it’s not the year for plane flights, rental cars, motels and various exposures.
Due to my personal situation I will need to drop out of the September trip. I was really looking forward to it. The training curriculum was great.
As you may have seen in the news, the virus is spiking here in Arizona. I’m not sure if things will calm down before September. To top it off, I got laid off from my job yesterday. I know this is your business and how you make a living, so I feel bad about cancelling. Things are just too uncertain for me and my family right now.
(July 17) It’s approaching the end of July and my thoughts are turning to the Utah trip. I’m wondering what thoughts you have going into the 11+ week countdown as coronavirus numbers are not going down like we all had hoped (back in March when we postponed this trip to October from April), but going up in many places…
(July 27) For reasons primarily related to travel risks for Covid-19 infection along with some additional concerns, I am writing to let you both know that I am canceling my reservation for this trip.
After long, hard (really hard) thought, I’ve decided to withdraw from the Colorado trip in August. My partner and I are healthy, but my partner cares for her elderly parents who have medical conditions. Also, I had expected COVID-19 infections to be declining or at least stabilizing. In many places, including out here in California, infection rates are still increasing significantly. To me, the opening of many businesses seem to be driven more by economics/social issues than health issues. Moreover, while I take the recommended precautions, I cannot be assured that others will do the same in a time when such a simple thing as wearing a mask has become such a political issue.
I hope you understand that this was a REALLY TOUGH call for me. At the end, it comes down to what my “gut” is telling me is the right thing to do. I hope this does not inconvenience you too much.
I’ve been agonizing quite a lot — both because I don’t want to leave you guys in the lurch, and because a week in the mountains sounds like exactly what life requires right now — and I’ve been hoping for case counts to dip. But it’s looking increasingly questionable to fly across the country from D.C. these days, particularly since getting to the region would require a flight transfer and would be on American or United.
I’m very comfortable with the safety precautions you have in place for the trip, but the travel itself (not to mention car rentals and hotels) feels somewhat irresponsible. I’m having a lot of trouble envisioning getting on a cross-country flight at the moment.
I still work half-time as a family doctor. Covid is projected to peak in late September in Arkansas and we are presently experiencing quite a surge. We have had two group trips cancelled already just due to concerns. I never get sick, but if I had a significant contact at work 14 days before the trip, I would have to cancel for the group’s safety. I think the smart thing would be to wait until after the first of the year, when this dies down or a vaccine is available.
After much consideration I’ve concluded that I’m not willing to risk participating in Yosemite this September. I’ve watched the rising C-19 infection rates throughout the country and in Yosemite, and can’t justify the risk to my wife and me.
These particular emails are from the past three weeks only. I have a stack of similar ones from April, May, and June.
You may have your own way of gauging where we are and where we’re going, such as comments made by friends or the fraction of people wearing masks at the local grocery store. If you’re a fellow small business owner, you most definitely have a measure or measures, with one certainly relating to your revenue and expenses.
These cancellation emails are my most telling indication that we’re botching our response to this pandemic and that there’s declining confidence in a trajectory change. For seven months we’ve known about the novel coronavirus and for five months we’ve known that it’s here, yet there is little change in the fear, uncertainty, and pessimism that they convey. It sounds like they still don’t know what to believe and that they still don’t have or know of a plan.
As other countries have demonstrated, it didn’t need to happen this way. Our nation’s response to this pandemic has been infuriatingly deficient.
For good reason, some might tell me to be thankful, and I am.
- No family members or friends have contracted Covid-19.
- My wife and I can both work from home, and she still has her job.
- With Covid protocols in place, I can operate my business with acceptable levels of risk to me, my guides, and my clients.
- With lots of hard work, we’ve been able to keep trip rosters mostly full, and we were able to launch an online course to help offset the loss.
Assignment of blame tends to reflect your politics, but the reality is that few (no?) heroes have emerged from this. On solid ground you can absolutely blame the President, who still acts like there’s nothing to see here; the Democrats, whose policy prescriptions are generally underwhelming; the media, both MSM for being sensationalist and right-wing outlets for being equally skewed, and sometimes for just making shit up; and elected and un-elected officials at all levels of government, from city councils to health officials to governors, who have generally failed to get their poop in a group to address this crisis in a pragmatic way.
We also need to blame ourselves, the American public, or at least the fraction it that can’t think critically, that can’t discern facts from fiction, and that has little sense of national duty, thereby allowing this virus to spread freely. Again, no side is perfect. On one hand, I was told by a Trump-voting acquaintance that coronavirus is being caused by the deployment of 5G. On the other, trail users in Boulder, Colo. (which voted for Clinton by an 80+ point margin) often give me a berth of 10 or even 30 feet as I run quickly past, an action that is driven only by unfounded fear, not science.
Yesterday the Federal Reserve said in a statement, “The path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus.” The same could be said about our country. I thought it was an important and simple reminder about the central issue — if you want the old normal back, address the virus.
At this point, that probably means learning to live with it. But I’m still waiting for individuals who have a loud megaphone and who can influence policy (like, maybe, our President, and behind him our governors) to honestly admit this to their constituencies and to simply explain how this can be safely done.
Until that happens, the status quo reigns, and it’s essentially a race between herd immunity and a vaccine. I hope my business (and yours, or your employer’s) and our health is still intact on the other side.