Chris Dickey Times Publisher
Chris Dickey Times Publisher

Rumors run rampant in times of crisis. One of our jobs here at the newspaper is to chase down, verify or disprove, the ones that seem to be the most relevant or impactful to the community as a whole.

We report on them when it seems like setting the record straight is important.

Did you hear that the National Guard was en route to Gunnison, coming to enforce a mandatory lock-down, not only of businesses but of residences as well?

Potentially as a result of this looming and threatening circumstance, there’s been a run on gun and ammunition sales at Gene Taylor’s.

In related coronavirus news, City Market will soon be shutting its doors as a protective measure to fight against the spread of this contagion.

Ok, if you’ve read this far please read the next sentence: Those rumors are false! I repeat, they are not true.

Well, except there is some accuracy to the Gene Taylor’s “fire” sale.

I swung by the store and chatted with the Gene Taylor’s gang early Tuesday. They said sales in the firearms department were indeed brisk on Monday, despite at that time operating in a quasi state of being open, but not for free-flowing foot traffic.

Crisis inspires fear. And when people are scared, I suppose there’s an instinctive reaction to protect themselves.

We’ve faced frightening situations before, as a community and a nation. I’ve been associated with the Gunnison Country Times through Y2K, 9/11 and the Great Recession. This feels different.

The COVID-19 outbreak and corresponding response by government and public health officials may seem unprecedented. It’s not.

A lot of attention has been given recently to the Great Influenza Outbreak of 1918. Gunnison gained international acclaim by the somewhat draconian, yet successful, measures it took to protect its citizens from getting sick back then.

One thing that hasn’t been as well studied is how our community, or any other for that matter, got back on its feet after that Spanish Flu threat had subsided. What measures were taken, if any, to help individuals, businesses and organizations go back to some semblance of business as usual?

I think I’ll spend some time digging through our archives to see if there are any hidden lessons to be learned on that front. Because recovery from this crisis — specifically, and perhaps selfishly, the economic impacts thereof — is where I want to turn my attention.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to do our absolute best to sort fact from fiction as we aim to keep the public informed, engaged and working together to get through this incredibly difficult time.

In that vein, I’m compelled to report to you that Amy Sandusky was a victim of the rumor mill recently and I believe she deserves to have the record set straight.

She’s a physician’s assistant with Dr. Gloria Beim and Alpine Orthopaedics here in the valley. She recently returned from a dream ski vacation with her family to France. When she got home, she began to feel ill.

Amy did everything right. She stayed home from work, she and her family self-isolated themselves and she sought (and received, as a professional member of the medical community) immediate coronavirus testing.

While she anxiously awaited the results, she was accused on social media and in a call to this newspaper as the person public officials were reporting as the first positive COVID-19 case in Gunnison County.

Those public officials who were reporting the news, saying at first it was a part-time resident (and later clarifying that it was a Denver resident who was visiting), were accused of lying.

While Amy wasn’t mentioned by name in the online post, people were able to put two-and-two together. So Alpine Orthopaedics started receiving phone calls. Patients began requesting being seen by someone other than Amy Sandusky.

Last Friday at 5 p.m., Amy got her results back. She tested negative for coronavirus. She was already feeling fine, totally asymptomatic, so she immediately went back to work.

But the pain of being wrongly accused lingered.

“There should not be any stigma with being tested for, or having, coronavirus,” Amy told me earlier this week. “But there should be stigma for spreading rumors and fear, which is exactly what this did.”

Rumors and fear aren’t going to help us get through this situation. Love, understanding and compassion will.

When people 100 years from now look back on how Gunnison dealt with the Great Coronavirus Outbreak, that is the message I hope they receive, loud and clear.

(Chris Dickey can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or publisher@gunnisontimes.com.)