Sensible citizen response has kept coronavirus in check in Sanpete County

The Sanpete Messenger staff in the newspaper office wearing their masks. From left are Suzanne Dean, publisher; Lloyd Call, associate publisher; Rhett Wilkinson, staff writer; Robert Stevens, managing editor; and Karen Christensen, office manager.


Sensible citizen response has kept

coronavirus in check in Sanpete County


By Suzanne Dean



On the whole, I’ve been gratified at the response in Sanpete County to the coronavirus pandemic.

People here seem to understand that when public health is at stake, we all have to do our part, even if that means some temporary limitations on personal freedom.

When the governor released his stay-at-home guidelines in March, nearly all businesses, banks, government offices and restaurant complied. That’s probably why Sanpete County got through several weeks without a single case.

Now that our county has gone to yellow, most restaurants, fitness facilities and office-type businesses have reopened, although some banks invite people in only by appointment and McDonald’s, a nationally affiliated restaurant, has not opened its dining room.

That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. Yes, Sanpete has only had 85 cases, which is within the range where contact tracing and getting people who have been exposed quarantined is possible. But cases have been spiking along the Wasatch Front. That’s not far away at all.

One thing that is concerning is that 50 percent of cases in the Six-County health district have been people under 45 years old. The age cohort the most cases is the 25-to-44-year-olds, with 103 cases.

I have to ask, “Aren’t these people taking corona virus seriously? Are they socializing, recreating and working with others without social distancing?”

In the past three months, research has established something that wasn’t clear when the coronavirus broke out in the United States—face masks have a huge effect in preventing the spread of the virus.

When the Sanpete Messenger staff talked about coming back to the office after working from home for three months, some people were fearful. The main fear was someone who had the virus walking in our office and exposing one of us.

I decided to put a sign up on our door telling visitors we appreciate them wearing a mask if possible. And I pledged that our staff of five would wear masks when waiting on customers and when on assignment. I’m extending that to whenever we are in the community, on or off the job, in locations where we are in contact with other people.

I really appreciate stores such as Maverick, where everyone on staff wears a mask at all times and where social distancing markers have been set up throughout. I totally support Walmart in its new requirement that all customers wear masks while shopping in the store.

The other day I was in a grocery store where most of the clerks were not wearing masks. I went through a check stand where the cashier was wearing a mask. “I sure appreciate you wearing a mask,” I told her.

“No problem,” she said. “I’m going to have to wear at high school next year, so I decided I needed to get used to it.”

What a difference, what a display of civic responsibility, compared to the parents (without masks) who packed a meeting in Utah County protesting a requirement that their children wear masks to school next year. The meeting itself could have been a “spreader” event.

Please, let’s all listen to our governor and our health experts, keep this terrible disease within bounds here in the county, and yes, wear our masks.