Opinion | Susan Knopf: ‘I thought this was a hoax, and it’s not’ | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: ‘I thought this was a hoax, and it’s not’

Susan Knopf

“I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, and it’s not.” That’s a what a 30 year-old patient told his nurse just before dying of COVID-19, Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer of San Antonio’s Methodist Hospital, told NBC Nightly News.

Every state that opened up precipitously — Florida, Texas, Arizona — is experiencing huge increases in COVID-19 cases. The president insists the rise in cases is due to more testing. His lie is refuted daily. Testing is up. Positive cases are rising at a faster rate.

For the record, the percentage of positive cases has more than doubled in Arizona, more than tripled in Texas and more than quadrupled in Florida. If Europe can bar Americans, perhaps Colorado should bar tourists from hotspot states? New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are all quarantining visitors from hotspot states. We depend on our tourism industry. We can’t let a handful of tourists infect all our visitors. That reflects on us, and we’re doing our part.

A local told me, “The CDC says it’s not even a pandemic anymore.” False. A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread globally. Clearly this is a pandemic. Wearing a mask will reduce your risk and the risk to others. Wearing a mask does not reduce your oxygen levels. COVID-19 is estimated to be about 40 times more deadly than the flu. Kids can get it.

As for White House efforts to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, I can’t say what happened behind the scenes in January, but in front of the cameras, Fauci tracks with other esteemed health professionals here at home and around the world. Trump doesn’t.

People tell me it’s hard to know what to believe. I recently read a meme on Facebook that said, “Maybe some folks struggle with facts and truth because they don’t know most ‘reality shows’ are fake and ‘fake news’ is real.”

Real is a president, who daily lies to his people, refutes professionally gathered empirical data. Real is a president who fails to assuage public anxiety and fear and instead exacerbates it. We see it with COVID-19 and with the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Portland, Oregon, a federal law enforcement officer shot a protester in the head. You can see in the disturbing video, the protester was not physically close to the officer. The U.S. Marshalls are investigating.

This movement propelled Colorado to be the first state to pass a bill to enforce higher accountability standards for law enforcement. Being first provides bragging rights, but it also means we’re the first to define the problem and prescribe the solution. That’s a “buggy” process.

It’s expensive. Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons will ask Summit County commissioners for $1.5 million to pay for body and patrol car cameras mandated by the new law. There’s training. There’s the recording and retention of all the data.

It’s not as big a price tag in Steamboat Springs. Police Chief Cory Christensen implemented many of the required changes years ago. It’s a bit easier when your sworn officer force is smaller. Christensen, president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, said he can imagine this is going to be huge in Denver and other larger police forces.

Sheriff FitzSimons requested many of the reforms mandated by state bill in past budgets, but the improvements went unfunded by the county. Now we will have no choice but to fund the state-mandated changes.

The new law’s elimination of “qualified immunity” was cited as a Greenwood Village officer’s reason for abruptly retiring after nearly two decades of service.

Christensen says, “It’s not going to stop a bad officer from being a bad officer.” He says he appreciates provisions that help him to decertify certain officers. That said, he admits the loss of qualified immunity has “unnecessarily created anxiety in good police officers.”

FitzSimons agrees.

FitzSimons also concurs with Christensen’s assessment, “If you work in a reputable department which will support you, and you act in good faith, (within the law) you have nothing to worry about.”

I think we should all be worried about holding officers to a higher standard than we hold other professions, than we hold ourselves. Officers will now be required to intervene and report peers who fail to follow the new standards. What doctor reports a poor performing physician? I know I have taken a pass on reporting misdeeds of working colleagues. How many of us have done the same? We’re on shaky ground any time we hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. Perhaps everybody should be held to this standard?

Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.

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