This year’s Thanksgiving was markedly different. Many of us followed the vital public health protocols to limit celebrations to those in our households, upending generations of tradition centered around gathering in large groups. Like so many other decisions made during this pandemic, we did so for the sake of protecting our loved ones and found creative ways to make it work. We kept it small this year so that no one is missing in years to come when we can celebrate safely together.
We take these precautions willingly because they are required by the state’s Level Red status – La Plata County’s current pandemic phase, but also because it is how we best show our care, respect and concern to others around us.
While this year has been extraordinarily challenging for all of us, we at San Juan Basin Public Health have witnessed numerous examples of dedication, kindness and collaboration from so many in our community. We have found much to be thankful for in the midst of this pandemic.
SJBPH is grateful for local, statewide and national health care workers, many exhausted, working to stay ahead of the increase in patients who need care. This gratitude extends to anyone who is currently working in any way to support the health care infrastructure, including nurses, doctors, pharmacists, case managers and those keeping health care facilities clean and safe. A special debt of gratitude goes out to ICU nurses who are taking care of COVID-19 patients experiencing the more ravaging symptoms of the virus.
We are thankful for the many local businesses, large and small, that are doing all they can to keep their customers and staff members healthy and safe. SJPBH has worked with chambers of commerce; Durango Business Improvement District; the Local Economic Recovery Task Force groups in both La Plata and Archuleta counties; the Durango chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association; and scores of individual business owners who understand that good public health means a strong economy. Their commitment is seen in the creative ways they have reworked their restaurants, stores and services to meet state public health requirements and protocols designed to keep everyone safe while remaining open.
SJBPH appreciates the countless hours that educational leaders and teachers have put into finding ways to serve students of all ages through a variety of learning options focusing on keeping students and staff members safe. This has been a complex and herculean task driven by the common desire to meet the educational, social/emotional and physical needs of all students in this uniquely challenging situation.
Also, boundless gratitude goes to parents with school-aged children struggling to figure out how to balance schooling at home with their own jobs, many of whom are considered essential workers. These are tough challenges for families faced with seemingly impossible choices. We honor these parents for all they do to keep their families healthy and safe.
Thank you to the people who have donated time, money and help to those who have been hit hardest in this crisis. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised by community members to support others struggling with job loss, sickness or loss of housing because of the impacts of COVID-19. Thousands of meals have been prepared and delivered to essential workers, and thousands of face masks have been sewn by local residents and donated to people who need them.
SJBPH leadership is extremely grateful for the deep dedication of our agency’s staff members over the last nine months. We cannot thank our employees enough for their unwavering commitment and countless hours spent protecting the health and safety of the people we serve.
We are especially thankful to all of you who are social distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when you would rather not. We realize that doing this for nine months has been hard, but it has made a difference.
As we look toward 2021 with hope for an effective COVID-19 vaccine, we know that there are still challenging times ahead. We continue to urge everyone to take the crucial precautions that we know – and science proves – work. We thank you in advance for your efforts to build resiliency through health and safety in our community, especially as we head into winter holidays.
Claire Ninde is director of communications at San Juan Basin Public Health.