On February 7, 2010, my husband and I were in Port Barre, Louisiana at Willy Joe Godchaux’s house watching Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints were playing the Colts in their first ever Super Bowl appearance which is why they were called- by their own fans- the Aints. The Saints dominated the second half, scoring 18 unanswered points and beating Peyton Manning’s Colts 31-17.

But you wouldn’t have known it sitting with those Saints fans. Every single penalty, dropped ball, or missed tackle would bring groans from these life-long Aints fans who just expected to lose and had no faith in their team. There were plenty of ‘Who Dats” when something good would happen, but then they’d sigh and tell me that the Saints couldn’t really win. As the clock ran out at the end of the fourth quarter and it became obvious that the Aints had in fact won, they all sat there in disbelief, shaking their heads. It was incredibly anti-climatic and we all went home not really believing that the Saints had won their first Super Bowl. These fans had no idea how to be winners.

I’m reminded of those Aints fans as we work our way through this COVID recession and can’t help but compare our community mindset to theirs. The facts continue to tell us we are quickly recovering, but our hearts just can’t believe it. Instead, we revert to what we know. Here it comes again! Too bad that last growth cycle didn’t last longer! Time to buckle down and wait it out! Six weeks ago, when school started, I lost count of how many people told me we’d be shut down again in two weeks. We’re so used to boom and bust cycles that this current pandemic is just business as usual for us.

Except that it’s not. Not even close.

Past recessions were energy-driven. They were high wage earners who spent a lot of money, so their job losses were felt across all sectors as a lack of demand for services and products. The small businesses that supported the energy industry were affected. Housing was affected. Everything felt the impact.

This is the complete opposite- mostly affecting the hospitality sector and not because of a lack of demand for those services and events, but because of a limit on capacity and attendance numbers at events. Even with those limitations, one restauranteur told me that last week’s sales numbers were higher than the same week in 2019 when he had full capacity.

There are supply chain disruptions for many industries, but that hasn’t slowed down demand in construction or manufacturing. Anybody talk to an outdoor manufacturer lately? They’re out of their product- whatever it is- completely sold out with sales numbers through the roof.

CMU has been in session for well over a month now and any outbreaks on campus are certainly not the result of being underprepared! I had the opportunity to check out their mobile rapid testing lab this week where they can quickly and affordably test hundreds of students. I spit into a test tube and received my results in 2 hours (negative). And, as we all know, D51 did not shut down after 2 weeks. I can only speak to the experience my family is having at Redlands Middle School and I feel confident that they are doing everything in their power to keep my kids safe while providing a high-quality educational experience. Keep up the good work, Mr. Sorenson!

And finally, there’s the airline industry- probably the hardest hit industry as a result of COVID. Once again, Grand Junction proves to be an outlier with better numbers than every other airport in the state. Currently October flights at Grand Junction Regional Airport are down less than 20% compared to October 2019. The airport is back to what feels like a “normal” level of flights as our air service is recovering at twice the pace of the national average with passengers flying and airlines responding to the demand by continuing to add more flights.

Our 2 week positive COVID rate remains below 1.5%, with one hospitalization despite the start of school, the introduction of thousands of CMU students and an influx of tourists that I see everywhere I go. We’re doing okay, people. In fact, we’re doing better than okay. We are leading the state in reopening. We are leading the state in recovery. We are winning. We ain’t the Aints.

~ Robin Brown

This article was originally published on September 20, 2020 in The Daily Sentinel.