No one is eager to see lockdown protocols reinstated, which means our community health leadership role as urban place managers is increasingly significant. The delta variant is taking its toll, especially for unvaccinated people, and jeopardizing everyone’s recovery plans in its wake. Just as IDA members provided essential communication services to district businesses, residents and stakeholders in the early pandemic days, the time for a preemptive strategy is before us.
We have unfortunately learned not to expect uniform national guidance on how to proceed. Moreover, regardless of authority, interpretation of the data varies from state to state and province to province. Inspired IDA leaders are taking matters into their own hands, preemptively implementing measures such as reinstating in-office mask requirements to ease employee concerns. Members are also doubling down on proactive sanitation efforts in the public realm. But if we’re going to prepare for the fall season and the safe return to schools that makes full recovery so vital, additional advocacy is needed.
Each district has the opportunity today to amplify public messaging about the importance of getting vaccinated. We are a community-building industry, and by example in our own organizations and through our external communications, we can reinforce the fact that vaccines are a protection for everyone. Through wider acceptance of vaccines, our entire community benefits from a stronger, more sustained economic recovery.
We can open discussions with our business leaders to consider approaches such as those taken by Governor Gavin Newsom in California, requiring vaccination or negative testing for state government employees. Or Manitoba, Canada, enacting vaccine requirements for attendance at large events. And let’s not forget the brave move of the Houston Methodist Hospital, whose vaccine requirement was upheld by a federal judge earlier this year.
It’s a complex and delicate issue to address, for sure. Thankfully, IDA members are bold leaders with vision for solving the day-to-day challenges in our city centers and commercial neighborhoods. Perhaps more than anyone, we’ve learned and recognize that critical steps taken today can mitigate problems of tomorrow.