We Should All Reach for ‘Turquoise Level’
ess than 9% of people in
the United States have
been fully vaccinated
from the coronavirus
and just a hair above 16% have
received at least one dose of the
COVID- 19 vaccine. Those num-
bers are from the Centers for Dis-
ease Control and Prevention and
they’re definitely an improvement
from 0% just a few months ago.
I’m not an epidemiologist, but I
do have a calculator on my phone.
According to my phone-math, we
still have about 290,000,000 more
people to vaccinate in this coun-
try. Let’s put the simple math to
the side for a moment.
Remember those terrorismthreat levels that became a dailynews item in the months and yearsafter the terrorist attacks on 9/11?We remained at the “Red” (severe)or “Orange” (high) risk levels foryears and years until they got ridof that system in 2011. The pandemic reinvigorated those kinds ofcolor-coded charts to come backinto our lives. It makes for colorful news images, but they do littleexcept scare you or comfort youdepending on where you live. Forinstance, here in Austin, Texas,different shades of red have beenused to note that people here areexisting in either “very high risk”or “extremely high risk” levels ofinfection. What’s the differencebetween very and extremely? Noclue. Haven’t figured that out.
Which leads me to our neighborto the west, New Mexico. They’vetaken ROYGBIV to new levels ofcolor-coding.
Late last month, Gov. MichelleLujan Grisham issued a new Public Health Order to the state’s red,green and yellow colors to indicate where and how businessescan reopen to the public at certain capacity levels. Basically, red= bad, green = good and yellow =not terrible. The governor addeda new color: Turquoise. Which,let’s be honest, if there was acolor to represent a state, theykind of nailed it with turquoise.If you’ve ever been to the marketon the square in downtown SantaFe or even watched episodes of“Breaking Bad,” turquoise is everywhere. In this order, turquoiseis better than green. Whichmeans that counties wanting tobe listed as turquoise must haveeight coronavirus cases or lessper 100,000 people for 14 daysand the average COVID- 19 posi-tivity rate must be 5% or less for14 days. Currently, there are fourturquoise counties.
Credit unions have been listed
as essential businesses across the
country from the beginning of the
pandemic and it’s no different in
New Mexico. What is interesting
is now, with the new adjustments
to the state’s color-coding key, the
Albuquerque-based Rio Grande
Credit Union ($440 million in as-
sets, more than 35,000 members)
can finally do something they’ve
been waiting to do for more than
a year – open up The Rio Grande
Credit Union Field at Isotopes
Park. Last February the credit
union purchased the naming
rights to the famous Minor League
Baseball team’s stadium. About 20
days after the naming rights deal
was announced, which CU Times
reported on, live events around
the world shut down. Since then,
the stadium has been empty. But,
if things go well and the area hits
Turquoise Level goodness, the
Rio Grande Credit Union Field at
Isotopes Park could be allowed to
have 75% capacity by next month.
Scenes like this are playingout around the country for creditunion-named stadiums and arenas that have been barely used ina year. In Johnson City, Tenn., theTVA Credit Union Ballpark is going to host the spring commencement for graduates of MilliganUniversity in May.
The Credit Union 1 Arena, on
the University of Illinois – Chicago
campus, has become one of the
latest vaccination sites. According
to recent reports, medical officials
have vaccinated about 1,000 peo-
to earlier shows that we have at
least 90% of our population still
vulnerable to this nightmare of a
pandemic. I’d like this to end just
as much as anyone who pretends
it’s not real or that it’s over.
This is when I appreciate whatcredit union executives and employees have done. You all haveaccomplished some amazingthings and done a tremendous jobduring this past year figuring outhow to best serve your members.You’ve adjusted. Members haveadjusted. Members potentiallyhave a new level of trust in youbecause you have a community-caring mission.
For those of us who haven’t had
a haircut, been in a credit union
branch, flown on a plane or been
inside a bar or restaurant in a year,
we are very excited about this
slow climb out of our home offic-
es and into the sunshine warmth
of public gatherings and hearing
those beautiful words, “Your table
is ready. Please follow me.”
Soon, my credit union friends, if
we do what needs to be done and
we continue to help our commu-
nities stay safe, we can all hope-
fully achieve that glorious color-
coded level: Turquoise. n
ple each day since it opened last
The Latino Community Credit
Union in Charlotte, N.C., joined
with other area non-profits to host
a series of vaccination drives.
Depending on where you live,
there are some great signs that the
world we used to know will come
back. We’re just not there yet. But,
credit unions are helping.
Credit unions and leagues indifferent corners of the countryare getting involved in some wayor another to help all of us get backout into the world. Getting correctand non-political information outto members has been incrediblycrucial. For instance, the Michigan Credit Union League and Affiliates has done an excellent jobkeeping its “COVID- 19 VaccineInformation” page updated regularly with vaccination informationduring these early months of thequalifying age- and health-basedphased rollout.
What makes me and many others nervous is the attempt to reopen (again) communities, counties and states as if we’re donewith the pandemic. The Texasgovernor announced the state willbe open 100% as of March 10. Thecity and county leaders in Dal-las-Ft. Worth, El Paso, Houston,Austin and San Antonio said thatisn’t happening. We’re not thereyet. That simple math I referred
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