Without a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine, the only way the Sun Valley area economy can even remotely expect to get open and stay open is with tons of testing for residents, workers—and even visitors. Yet, that testing is nowhere in sight.
It’s nowhere because the Trump administration has not made manufacturing tests a priority. Instead, it has called on state governors to shoulder the responsibility for getting tests to their residents—even though the resources available to them to do so are few or none. The administration’s insistence is like asking fish to fly.
If the fish can’t fly, Blaine County’s tourism-based economy likely will experience convulsive openings and closings because of the inability to identify where new coronavirus infections originate, who is likely to spread the virus and who may have some level of immunity.
Gov. Brad Little formed a State of Idaho Testing Task Force that issued a report on May 20. The report concluded that test availability is far from ideal. Current capacity for current molecular testing, which detects active cases, is between 18,000 and 23,000 tests per week. What the state needs is 163,200 tests per week.
The report also concluded that serological (antibody) testing capability is not adequate “to inform clinical decisions or employment management for individuals.”
In other words, without comprehensive testing, individuals and businesses will be left to operate in the dark and to face the financial and physical battering of the coronavirus on their own—again.
Good summer weather in our mountains will keep people outdoors and likely reduce the spread of the virus for a time. But summer is a blip and a blink at high elevations. Fall and winter temperatures will drive activities indoors again—along with the virus.
The Sun Valley area needs more testing long before temperatures drop if businesses and schools have any chance of being open and staying open. Otherwise, winter could be very dark and difficult indeed.