By Ken Donnell
Plumas County business owner
Business owners in Plumas County continue to have many reasons to believe that the 2021 tourist season will be spectacular. Long distance travel will probably take 1-2 years to fully recover, so tourists are more likely to focus on regional travel, with outdoor destinations being more popular than ever. Plus, timber prices are high, and construction is booming. Thanks to the many pandemic recovery and assistance programs at the federal and state levels, our economy is strong, and shows no signs of weakening. Overall, we do not need to live in fear of the pandemic or Covid-19, but we all should remain cautious and vigilant.
We must remember that we remain in the middle of a major global pandemic. While I encourage Plumas business owners to fully re-open their businesses soon, this should be done with appropriate precautions for staff, and contingency plans for how to respond if infections in our communities begin to re-surge. I also encourage business owners to support vaccinations, as much as possible, and consider the continued use of face coverings for staff persons having close and frequent contact with out-of-area tourists.
An important historical precedent to remember is that the final, and most deadly wave of the 1918-21 influenza pandemic, occurred 18 months after the previous wave. Everyone, all around the world, had a year and a half to get very relaxed, and overly confident that the pandemic was past, then suddenly, infections, hospitalizations, and deaths surged to massive proportions. There is no reason to believe that we, in Plumas County, and the rest of the world, will not experience one, or even two more difficult surges of infections, even as late as winter of 2024-25.
Having effective vaccines can very possibly alter this trajectory in our favor. But we need to remember that:
– vaccinations are not 100% effective,
– there is a large contingent of our population who resist vaccinations (especially in northern California),
– vaccinations can create over confidence, and
– Covid-19 is showing itself able to mutate quickly, and might possibly escape protection from the current vaccines, with a lag time between when infections re-surge, and a newer and more effective vaccine can be created.
We must remember that the greatest threat for bringing new Covid-19 mutations into any community is long distance travel. So, the many tourists, and family visitors coming this summer probably represent the greatest threat to introduce a more virulent Covid-19 mutation into Plumas county. The latest mutation from India has been detected in Oregon, which had very low numbers of infections until recently. In a short time this mutation may begin to infect us here in locally.
Despite my words of caution, I believe there are many reasons to feel confident and celebrate what we all hope will be a marvelous summer season. Let’s hope we do not have a repeat of the 2020 wildfires season, let us hope the USA & California economies remain strong, and let’s remain reasonably vigilant against a local resurgence of Covid-19 infections.