By Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel
Many of us, myself included, are anxious to get back to our routines, back to our offices and back to some sense of normalcy. Others are deeply concerned about the pandemic and worry that they will be forced back to the office too soon and risk infection.
Images in the media showing people in the streets, at parties, beaches and going about their lives—including many without masks—give the appearance that all is back to normal. In truth, there is a rising number of COVID-19 cases in at least 41 states. What's more, hospitals within our own service territory—in Arizona and Utah, for example—are reporting that their intensive care units are full.
The risk remains high in many localities. Much of our 1.4-million square mile service territory is rural, and that provides a false sense of security and protection. It should not.
At WAPA, we are continuing to carefully follow our Responsible Workplace Re-entry Plan and monitoring county by county. We will not rush to come back into the facilities; we need to protect all of our people, particularly those in mission-critical positions.
I do understand the desire to get back to business as usual, but I will always put your safety and the safety of those around us first. We have a great plan in place and have developed a WAPA Facility Dashboard that will allow us to make decisions focused on local conditions.
We have a top-notch Emergency Operations Center team which, combined with the Senior Leadership Team, is focused on making sure we come back at the proper time, with the proper tools and the proper social distancing.
In your personal lives, I urge you to be diligent in social distancing, wearing masks and washing your hands. I know some people view the wearing of masks as a freedom issue. I do not. I view the wearing of masks as the sign of a social conscience to protect many of us in the high-risk category.
I wear a mask not for myself, but for someone's grandfather, grandmother, favorite uncle or aunt, mentor or child with a compromised immune system. I wear a mask out of a concern for others.
I am proud of all you are continuing to accomplish for our customers and for the nation. Thank you for all of your terrific work at WAPA. Thank you for following the rules of social distancing and wearing masks. Thank you for your dedication to our mission.