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Are people pent-up, fed-up or rested up? How people would act and respond after the COVID-imposed restrictions for the past year and a half was an unknown heading into this summer.

If attendance at recent events like Pioneer Days, Patriot Night Under the Lights even something like the First Friday Art Walk are any indication, people are eager to get back out, do stuff and have fun.

That is good news and our local sampling in reflected in the national trend of people returning to pre-COVID activities like dining out, sporting events, entertainment, etc.

On a the national level, people are getting out and about so much it is outpacing some of the businesses’ ability to hire adequate labor.

There is definitely a difference locally the past few weeks compared to recent months. More people are venturing out. One of the quirks of the COVID shutdown was the quietness you’d encounter during times when you’d expect crowds.

The last few Friday afternoons, if you’ve been downtown you’d felt much of more of a normal, end-to-the-week buzz with people heading out to relax.

In terms of summer visitors, there has been more traffic. More people means more business, more customers, more hotel stays but it has other consequences as well.

State Patrol District 6, which includes Kittitas County and Grant County, saw troopers arrest 22 people (seven in Kittitas County) for driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs this past holiday weekend. This is up from 14 in 2020 and 16 in 2019. The call volumes for Kittcom have been up as well.

More people means more of everything — good and bad.

Increased Kittcom calls do not necessarily equate to a local crime spree. Reading the call sheets each day the first crime prevention tip that comes to mind is “lock your car.” Kittitas County is sort of a magnet for car prowls — the attraction of Central students and their vehicles during the school year and people parking at trail heads and boat launches during the summer. Locking your car and not leaving valuables in your parked car would take a McGruff the Crime Dog-sized bite out of crime in Kittitas County. Speaking of dogs and cars, don’t leave your dog in a parked car.

More seriously, there is a troubling increase in violent crime/gun violence on the national level.

NPR reported that over the Fourth of July weekend more than 180 people were killed in shootings across the country, including many children. As of the end of June, for 2021 there were 16 mass shootings (four or more killed) in the nation.

It is hard to know the “why?” when you are in the middle of what is happening. There was gun violence during COVID — although less public. At some point down the road, a researcher will do a definitive study titled, “Consequences of the 2020-21 COVID-19 Shutdown.”

What was the emotional/psychological impact of the isolation and then reentry into the community on people who may be prone to violence?

Not all gun violence is the same — there’s gun violence in the commission of a crime and gun violence as part of a conflict or dispute, emotional/psychological breakdown or some reason no one ever understands. But all result in people being killed.

Not to put a downer on our “return to normalcy” but there are some things we’d rather not bring back.

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