Letter to the Editor: Don’t Equate Low Risk with Low Precaution

I was encouraged to see the leading article describing Door County’s take on COVID-19, but disheartened by the lack of proactive awareness with respect to precautionary measures of social distancing that was reported.

As global and national news reports continue to communicate daily escalations, Door County appears relatively unconcerned. I’ve heard everything from “It’s just a hoax” to “It won’t happen here.” Overall, the consensus appears to be a general lack of urgency and concern. But we should be concerned – and the sooner, the better.

As faculty at UW-GB, the proactive cancellation of all campus classes and events statewide was done not because someone tested positive but to prevent this outcome. Now the UW has advised all faculty and students to restrict all travel, regardless of destination.

So far we’ve been fortunate to be categorized as “low risk,” but this can – and will – change unless we act now. Travel advisories abroad and to “high-risk” states do little to protect against the transmission that comes with travel to other regions, especially during spring break.

Door County is home to a large aging population, which is at greater risk of mortality and severe illness. We’re a tourist community whose livelihoods depend upon the well-being of business owners to accommodate visitors just a few short months away. We’re a community of farmers whose well-being is vital to be able to care for livestock and crops.

Limited hospital capacity – combined with a general “low risk, no worries” mentality – is placing our community at greater risk. We should postpone group events and avoid gathering at venues. We should make every attempt to engage in voluntary social distancing, especially when those not taking this seriously are far less likely to engage in handwashing and other precautionary measures.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The fate of Door County rests in the hands of decisive community leaders and diligent residents. We’re “low risk” now. Let’s combine our collective efforts to keep it that way.

Dr. Linda Steiner

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin