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Updates on COVID19 in the Durango Community

Governor Polis Provides Update on States Response to COVID-19

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19.

 

“The key to our success continues to be a strong response at the individual and community level. In order to avoid unnecessary loss of life and more economic pain, we are looking to our local governments to lead during this time,” said Governor Jared Polis. “No one wants a major setback and I implore our local health agencies and local governments to use the tools that have been provided to them and take more ownership of the local response. We are all in this together and we’re going to have to work together to get through it, and the state will be a strong partner.”

 

The Governor and the state’s top public health experts look at four metrics when thinking about next steps:

  • Predictive Model from the CU School of Public Health
  • Hospital Capacity
  • Growth in Cases
  • Testing Results

 

The University of Colorado’s predictive model shows that social distancing is needed at a level of at least 55%, preferably 65%, to avoid overwhelming our hospital system. Colorado is seeing hospitalizations tick back up, and as of July 16, 2020, the state’s ICU bed capacity is stabilizing at 22-30%. Currently, Colorado’s new case average has exceeded 500 each day. Several days last week showed new case counts of more than 600, close to what the state saw in April. These are all critical factors that are considered when making decisions about what Colorado needs to do to mitigate the spread of this virus. 

 

Governor Polis urged municipalities and local public health agencies to take swift, targeted action to address rising case numbers and avoid drastic action at the statewide level. 

 

 

Colorado has granted variances to a number of counties, but those with higher case counts will lose their variance if they are unable to reverse these trends within two weeks. To reverse these trends, the Governor encourages counties to follow their mitigation plans. These plans include strategies such as social distancing orders, increased testing and contact tracing, enforcement of social distancing and mask wearing, and increased education. So far, 15 counties have been notified that they have exceeded the threshold, and they have two weeks to reverse their disease trend in order to keep their variance. If they are not able to reverse the trend, the variance may be revoked and the county will have to follow the Safer at Home order. 

 

Gov. Polis also announced that Coloradans with school-enrolled children will begin to receive food benefits through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which began last week. More than 360,000 Colorado children are eligible for P-EBT benefits, which will reimburse families for the free and reduced-price meals that students missed while schools were closed in March, April, and May because of COVID-19.

 

Governor Polis also extended an Executive Order suspending certain statutes concerning taxpayer filing requirements for certain taxable property, as well as one that allows food trucks to operate at Colorado’s rest areas to support the movement of commercial vehicle activities. 

 

View the Governor’s presentation and the full news conference

 

July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020: Mercy Community Testing Site Reduces Hours, Tests

Mercy Regional Medical Center (MRMC) will reduce hours and number of COVID-19 diagnostic tests available at its free community testing site as of Monday, July 27th. New hours and days will be Monday through Thursday 8am to noon, and Saturday 8am to noon, limited to no more than 50 tests a day.

Unfortunately, due to limited local availability of testing, and in addition to previously reported laboratory capacity and supply constraints around the state, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and MRMC will need to temporarily prioritize use of this free public resource. This prioritization does not affect testing for COVID-19 for patients being hospitalized and refers only to the community testing operated by MRMC and supported by SJBPH.

SJBPH is requesting that individuals who live and work in La Plata and Archuleta counties refer to the following prioritization when considering if they should be tested at this free community testing site:

  • High priority: people with COVID-19 symptoms and those notified of an exposure by SJBPH or another public health agency.
  • Medium priority: people with no symptoms or identified exposure but who live or work with high risk populations such as:
    • Residents or employees of congregate living or work settings (dorms, long-term care facilities, detention facilities)
    • People experiencing homelessness
    • Employees of high-risk workplaces monitored by public health
    • Health care workers, first responders, and law enforcement

At this time, all others without a known exposure seeking assurance that they do not have the virus, including those instructed to get a test by an employer or educational facility and those testing for travel-related reasons, cannot be considered a priority for free community testing. Tests for these individuals remain available by appointment through private testing providers.

Unfortunately, the reduction in test availability at MRMC means La Plata County is unable to meet nationwide standards for testing capacity to most effectively control spread of infection. SJBPH is asking the community to prioritize the remaining capacity at the community testing site to ensure testing is available for those who need it most and so SBPH can continue to use testing to identify positive cases and contain the spread of disease in a timely manner.

“We at SJBPH recognize that a reduction in community testing will be very concerning to all of us,” said Liane Jollon, SJBPH Executive Director. “SJBPH is already working with additional community healthcare partners to offer free testing and ensure that the community has access to diagnostic testing to rapidly investigate and control the spread of infection. We understand that businesses, schools and other activities cannot operate as safely as possible while Colorado and neighboring states continue to see rising cases without widespread testing availability,” she said.

“Testing with timely results is the most important tool to contain disease,” added Jollon. Prioritization will ensure that testing and rapid results are available for people with symptoms and people suspected of exposure, enabling SJBPH to quickly identify cases and contain disease outbreaks. We continue to encourage anyone in the high-priority category to seek testing when developing symptoms or when notified of a likely exposure by a public health agency.”

For more information on COVID-19 testing locations and hours, see https://sjbpublichealth.org/testing/

 PC: City of Durango

July 23, 2020

Gov. Polis Provides Update on Colorado COVID-19 Response

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on testing in Colorado. 

“Testing continues to be a critical part of Colorado’s strategy to combat this virus and I’m proud of the incredible work our state lab has done over these past few months to increase capacity. There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that every Coloradan can get tested and receive results in a timely manner and we will continue working with private partners to ensure those goals are met,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I want to thank our front line health care workers across the state who are serving their communities and supporting our response to this pandemic. Coloradans can support them wearing masks when we leave the house, washing our hands, and following social distancing protocol and reducing social interactions as much as possible.”

Colorado remains committed to the following three goals in the approach to maintaining COVID-19:

  • Acquiring more PPE, including masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, and testing equipment;
  • Expanding testing, tracking, and tracing capacity;
  • Ensuring hospitals and local public health agencies can meet the need if we do have another surge of cases.

The Governor today announced that as a result of state lab expansion and partnerships with the private sector, Colorado has increased testing from 160 Coloradans per day back in March to administering over 10,000 tests per day on average and exceeding 12,000 tests a day in recent days. On July 19, the state lab processed an all time high of 3,803 tests. That day, Colorado also hit our overall combined high between the state lab and private labs with 12,413 tests processed. Colorado’s 7-day average is 10,317 tests per day total, and more than 3,000 for the state lab. The state lab has also added a third, overnight shift to process more tests and keep turn around time low.

The state has also worked to increase supplies. Since April, Colorado has purchased 300,000 tests and 450,000 swab kits through international suppliers, and is expecting 300,000 more tests plus 800,000 swab kits over the next eight weeks. Another 300,000 swabs have been purchased and delivered from United States suppliers, and 500,000 kits are expected by the end of September. 

Colorado is also working to expand and diversify testing capacity as much as possible through innovation, introducing new and more efficient testing methods. That’s why the state lab has invoked the authority from the Federal Drug Administration to approve novel tests for use in Colorado. Over the next few weeks, the state will be evaluating an innovative saliva test that has the potential to significantly expand surveillance testing capabilities. Over time, academic and private lab partners will be expanding the types of samples that can be collected for testing, including working with Curative to introduce a cheek swab test in Colorado, in settings where repeated testing is appropriate.

Contract tracing is another key element of how Colorado will reach its goals. Thanks to the 115 full-time COVID-19 case investigators and contact tracers Colorado’s Department of Public Health & Environment, Colorado has been able to reach out to 96% of positive cases within a 48 hour window, where 72% have responded. Last month, Gov. Polis announced that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) would be mobilizing more than 800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to support the State of Colorado’s COVID-19 response through contact tracing and other associated work. To date, 423 contact tracers have started working, and an additional 300 AmeriCorps NCCC members, 350 VISTA Summer Associates, and 100-200 Senior Corps volunteers will be joining them over the course of the next year.

The Governor released an update to the Executive Order today requiring a cease in alcohol beverage sales to end consumers at 10:00 p.m. MDT each day. Rather than applying to all who are licensed to sell alcohol, the Executive Order has been amended to apply to only those who are licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption. Alcohol may still be delivered and grocery and liquor stores may continue alcohol sales after 10:00 p.m. Last call for sales for on-premise alcohol consumption or takeout alcohol orders is at 10:00 p.m. This takes effect at 10:00 p.m. today, July 23, 2020. Gov. Polis also extended an Executive Order allowing voluntary or elective surgeries.

July 21, 2020

Gov. Polis Provides Update on Colorado COVID-19 Response

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis was joined by Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment, to provide an update on the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor and Ryan emphasized the importance of Coloradans modifying social behavior and following social distancing rules.

“We know we can’t behave the way we did last summer, or even the way we did in February. Though we have taken steps to open up more of our economy, we have to remain vigilant,” said Governor Jared Polis. “If we continue keeping a safe distance of six feet from others, mask up when we leave the house, and connect with each other virtually when possible, we’ll start to see less tests coming back positive for COVID-19 and begin to create more opportunities to get our economy back on track. The nature of the virus alone does a great job of setting us back. Do not give the virus the power to do what it does best: spread by engaging in risky, irresponsible, and thoughtless behavior.”

In order to curb some of that social behavior, the Governor announced that, for the next 30 days, the State is suspending all alcohol sales after 10:00 p.m. each day. This will apply to all entities that are licensed to sell liquor. “All licensees contained in Articles 3, 4, and 5 of Title 44 of the Colorado Revised Statutes must cease alcohol beverage sales to end consumers at 10:00 P.M. each day,” the Executive Order reads. The Order takes effect at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 23, 2020. Read the full Executive Order

Amidst rising cases, CDPHE has created a system to work with counties experiencing high transmission. Counties whose metrics put them in violation of their variance have two weeks to reverse their disease trend to keep their variance. If a county is unable to reverse the trend, the variance will be revoked and the county must follow the Safer at Home Executive Order.  

CDPHE has requested that such counties submit a mitigation plan with strategies such as social distancing orders, increased testing and contact tracing, enforcement of social distancing and mask wearing, and increased education. Counties also have the option to revert to the Safer at Home Executive Order, which eight counties have decided to do in lieu of a mitigation plan.  

View the news conference on the Governor’s Facebook page. View the Governor’s presentation

July 17, 2020

SJBPH Weekly COVID-19 Emergency Response Summary

For week of July 11th- 17th

Local Case Count

  • La Plata County cases: 141 (+14)
  • Archuleta County cases: 18 (+5)
  • La Plata County non-resident cases: 10 (+6)
  • Archuleta County non-resident cases: 15 (+5)
  • Outbreaks : 2 (both in La Plata County)
  • Deaths among cases with COVID-19 – 2 (both La Plata County)

*See more at SJBPH’s Data Dashboard here: https://sjbpublichealth.org/sjbph-data-dashboard/.

Testing and Disease Investigation

  • The ongoing partnership between San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and healthcare providers in La Plata and Archuleta Counties has successfully provided no-barrier community-wide COVID-19 testing opportunities. With a sharp increase in demand for tests, some of which is coming from out of state visitors, constraints on laboratories that receive tests from around the country, and constraints on testing supplies and staff, Mercy Regional Medical Center’s drive through site is shifting its focus to prioritize those who most need to be tested 
  • With the continued increases in cases again this week, SJBPH was busy performing disease investigations for positive COVID-19 cases which includes contact tracing, isolation and quarantine guidance and follow-up, and coordination with state and county public health agencies on non-resident individuals who tested positive in either Archuleta or La Plata counties.
  • See all testing locations and information here: https://sjbpublichealth.org/testing/.
  • 10,916 total COVID -19 tests have been completed, with 7,599 of these diagnostic (PCR) tests, and 3,317 of these antibody tests.

Business guidance and self-certifications

  • To date, 1,082 self-certifications have been filed for local businesses, and 153 have been filed for restaurants.
  • You can check to see which businesses have self-certified here, and which restaurants have self-certified here.
  • Here is a script for business owners to have a conversation with customers who may be reluctant to wear face coverings. Here is the script in Spanish. Please share!

Communications

This week, SJBPH:

New items/Other:

State and Local Public Health Orders

  • Low virus prevalence; 
  • Health care capacity to handle a surge; and  
  • Strong public health capacity to contain outbreaks and surges locally, including the ability to test, track, and trace.
  • In order to qualify for Protect Our Neighbors, a county (or region) must do two things:
  • Certify qualification according to the scientific metrics; and
  • Submit a mitigation and containment plan on what the county or region will do if they fall out of compliance with any of the metrics. This containment plan must be accompanied by letters of support from local elected leaders including county commissioners and mayors, the hospitals that serve that community, law enforcement, county emergency management, local public health, and if applicable, tribes.
  • At this point in time, no Colorado counties qualify to apply for Protect Our Neighbors.

Science!

A number of studies and articles have been published recently on the effectiveness of face coverings. Check out the proven science behind COVID-19 prevention strategies on our COVID-19  prevention page here.

Southern Ute Public Health Order requires the use of face coverings

Southern Ute Indian Reservation –

PUBLIC HEAL TH ORDER

OF THE SOUTHERN UTE INDIAN TRIBE

WHEREAS, authority is vested in the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council by the Constitution adopted by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and approved November 4, 1936, and amended October 1, 1975, and August 27, 1991, to act for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe; and

WHEREAS, under Article VII, Section 1 of the Constitution, "The inherent powers of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, including those set forth in [the Indian Reorganization Act], as amended, shall be exercised by the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, subject only to limitations imposed by the Constitution and Statutes of the United States, by the regulations of the Department of the Interior and by this constitution."; and

WHEREAS, under Article VII, Section 1 ( e) of the Constitution, "The [T]ribal [C]ouncil may enact ordinances and codes to protect the peace, safety, property, health and general welfare of the members of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe"; and

WHEREAS, under Article VII, Section l(n) of the Constitution, Tribal Council has the authority, "To protect and preserve the property, wildlife and natural resources of the [T]ribe, and to regulate the conduct of trade and the use and disposition of tribal property upon the reservation."; and

WHEREAS, in Res. No. 2004-225, the Tribe approved the Southern Ute Community Emergency Operations Plan ("Plan"), the purpose of which is to identify the emergency management process and principles for managing and coordinating the overall response and recovery activities during periods of emergency/disaster resulting from a natural-or human-caused hazard; and

WHEREAS, Section IV (B) of the Plan identifies Emergency Management operational phases, including the Response Phase, which may include incident mitigation activities designed to limit the loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and unfavorable outcomes; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the Plan, Section IV(B)(3), response activities may include ongoing public health and testing processes, immunizations, isolation or quarantine; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the Plan, Section V(F), the Tribal Council's duties in an emergency or disaster include, among other things, signing a resolution declaring an emergency or disaster to protect life and preserve property and the environment by ensuring prevention, preparation, and response measures are in place; and

WHEREAS, under the Plan, Section V (F), the Tribal Council's duties in an emergency or disaster include making emergency decisions regarding quarantines; and

WHEREAS, in Res. No. 2020-025, Tribal Council declared a state of emergency to respond to the spread of the coronavirus, which included, among other things, the state of emergency continuing "until the conclusion of response activities including attendant documentation is complete"; and

WHEREAS, in Res. No. 2020-031, Tribal Council approved the Southern Ute Health Center Communicable Disease Response Plan, which allows for, among other things, infection control precautions, including contact, droplet, and airborne precautions; and

WHEREAS, cases of coronavirus continue to rise in Colorado and neighboring states; and

WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") recommends face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain and to prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others; and

WHEREAS, based on the danger that the coronavirus continues to pose and the identified cases of the coronavirus in surrounding counties, the Tribal Council finds it in the interests of public health and safety, to require face coverings indoors at all times and outdoors when other social distancing measures are not possible.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

  1. The Tribal Council hereby finds it essential that the COVID-19 virus be slowed to protect the tribal membership, the community, tribal employees, and especially our most vulnerable people, including heath care providers.
  2. The Tribal Council hereby ORDERS:
  3. All individuals over two years old must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when entering or moving within any public indoor space.
  4. All individuals over two years old must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in outdoor public spaces when other social distancing measures are not possible.
  5. Face covering means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face, and that fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face and remains in place without the use of one's hands. Face coverings include, but are not limited to, bandanas, medical masks, cloth masks, buffs, and gaiters. Face coverings do not include any mask that incorporates a one-way valve (typically a raised plastic cylinder about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask) that is designed to facilitate easy exhaling, and such masks are not to be used to comply with this Order. Valves of that type without filters permit droplet release from the mask and can put others nearby at risk.
  6. Public indoor space means any enclosed indoor area that is public or privately owned, managed, or operated to which individuals have access by right or by invitation, expressed or implied, and that is accessible to the public, serves as a place of employment, or is an entity providing services. Public indoor space does not mean a person's residence, including a room in a motel or hotel.
  7. Outdoor public space means any outdoor area that is public or privately owned, managed, or operated to which individuals have access by right or by invitation, expressed or implied, and that is accessible to the public.\
  8. No owner, operator, or manager of a public indoor space may provide services to individuals or allow an individual to enter or move within that public indoor space, unless the individual is wearing a face covering as required by this Public Health Order.
  9. Owners, operators, or managers of public indoor spaces must post signs at entrance(s) instructing individuals of their legal obligation under this Order to wear a face covering when entering or moving within a public indoor space.
  10. Individuals two years old and younger are exempt from the requirements of this Order.
  11. Individuals performing the following activities are exempt from the requirements of this Order while the activity is being performed:
  12. Individuals who are hearing impaired or otherwise disabled or who are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication;
  13. Individuals who are seated at a food service establishment;

iii.             Individuals who are exercising alone or with others from the individual’s household and a face covering would interfere with the activity;

  1. Individuals who are receiving a personal service where the temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;
  2. Individuals who enter a business or receive services and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes;
  3. Individuals who are actively engaged in a public safety role such as a law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel;

vii.            Individuals who are officiating at a religious services, or

viii.          Individuals who are giving such a broadcast or an audience.

  1. The Stay at Home Order issued on March 25, 2020 remains in full force and effect as originally promulgated.
  2. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Order shall become effective at 11:59 p.m. on July 71, 2020 and will continue until it is no longer necessary as deemed by the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council.

 

Local Focus on COVID-19 Testing Shifts

Durango, Colo.: The ongoing partnership between San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and healthcare providers in La Plata and Archuleta Counties has successfully provided no-barrier community-wide COVID-19 testing opportunities. With a sharp increase in demand for tests, some of which is coming from out of state visitors, constraints on laboratories that receive tests from around the country, and constraints on testing supplies and staff, the focus of free community testing sites is shifting to prioritize those who most need to be tested.

“SJBPH continues to emphasize the importance of testing in controlling the spread of COVID-19, as each additional diagnostic test taken gives us an understanding of the transmission of the disease in our community and helps us make strategic decisions on how we respond.”, said Liane Jollon, Executive Director of SJBPH.

SJBPH is requesting that individuals refer to the following prioritization when considering whether or not they should be tested at a free community testing site:

  • High priority: people with COVID-19 symptoms and those notified of an exposure by SJBPH or another public health agency.
  • Medium priority: people with no symptoms or identified exposure but who live or work with high risk populations such as:
    • Residents or employees of congregate living or work settings (dorms, long-term care facilities, detention facilities)
    • People experiencing homelessness
    • Employees of high-risk workplaces monitored by public health

All others without a known exposure seeking assurance that they do not have the virus, including those instructed to get a test by an employer or educational facility and those testing for travel-related reasons are not considered a priority for free community testing. Written results for these purposes cannot be provided. Additional testing sites are available by appointment through private testing providers.

Employers interested in widespread testing for their staff should work directly with a private testing provider rather than utilizing free community testing sites, in order to preserve testing capacity for those with symptoms or a known exposure. A list of testing sites is available at sjbpublichealth.org/testing

The Mercy Regional test site has been moved to the North Parking lot at the intersection of Mercado and Nighthorse Circle.

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community.

 

San Juan Basin Public Health Reports Continued Increase in Cases and Second Death of a Person with COVID-19 

Durango, Colo.: San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is reporting a continued increase in COVID-19 cases today as well as La Plata County’s second death of a person with COVID-19. The person who died was an adult with underlying health conditions. Since June 25, SJBPH has confirmed 63 new cases of COVID-19 in La Plata County and 10 new cases in Archuleta County. Yesterday, July 16, SJBPH confirmed five new cases in La Plata County, two new cases in Archuleta County, and three new cases in nonresidents who were tested in La Plata or Archuleta counties. Additional case investigations are still underway.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has determined that La Plata County now qualifies as an area of significant community transmission of COVID-19. This may result in continued increases in case counts. The cases reported over the last three weeks include workplace, family, social, and household transmissions of the virus, as well as persons who contracted the disease from an unknown source.

“SJBPH is saddened by the second death of a local resident who had contracted COVID-19, and we extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this person.”, said SJBPH Executive Director, Liane Jollon. “This is a tragic reminder of the importance of all of us making responsible decisions such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, and hand washing frequently to protect our vulnerable family members, friends, and strangers,” Jollon said.

To prevent further spread of COVID-19 and to protect vulnerable people, including older adults and those with underlying health conditions including those with heart and lung disease, pregnant women, and people with diabetes, SJBPH urges everyone to: 

  • Stay at home. Only leave your home for things such as grocery shopping, getting needed medication at the pharmacy, or to going to work.
  • If you do leave your home, wear a face covering over your nose and mouth. Anyone older than 10 in Colorado is required to wear a mask or face cover in all indoor spaces and is encouraged to do so in outdoor spaces if social distancing is not possible.
  • Practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other individuals.
  • Choose lower-risk recreation and leisure activities, like recreating outside alone or with members of your household. Avoid large group activities, especially indoors.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • If you are sick or are notified that you may have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case, stay at home.

For the latest evidence supporting these precautions see: https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-prevention/

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community.

July 16, 2020

New modeling data from the Colorado School of Public Health shows decline in social distancing and increasing hospitalizations 

If Colorado continues on its estimated trajectory, ICU capacity may be exceeded in early September

DENVER, July 16, 2020: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment received additional modeling results from an expert group of public health scientists. The current projection based on recent hospitalization trends is a stark contrast to previous reports, showing a sharp curve upward as cases and hospitalizations have increased over the last few weeks. The modeling team estimates that this is due to a decline in social distancing in Colorado in May and June. 

Governor Jared Polis and State Epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, presented the information from the latest Colorado model report today. All modeling reports are available on the Colorado School of Public Health’s COVID-19 website. 

The latest modeling report provides projections based on COVID-19 hospital census data to characterize the current status of the COVID-19 epidemic in Colorado, and the collective impact of efforts to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It also provides projections based on various policy scenarios around social distancing, mask-wearing, and case detection and containment. The models are based on Colorado data and assumptions.

Key findings from the report:

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations have been increasing since late June. 
  • The estimated effective reproductive number has increased over the past two weeks and is now at the highest estimated value since late March. Social distancing has declined since May.
  • Collectively, these data indicate that the trajectory of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Colorado has changed over the past two months, from a curve of declining infections in May to a curve of increasing infections (see Figure 3 in the report). The most recent model results suggest the rate of increase has changed from slow growth to a more rapid increase in cases. NOTE: There is still uncertainty about the rate of increase. The estimates will be more certain as we track the rate of increase over the next week.
  • If Colorado remains on the current estimated trajectory, it is expected that intensive care unit (ICU) capacity will be exceeded in early September. If social distancing continues to decline, Colorado could exceed hospital capacity in late August. Under these scenarios, without additional interventions or changes in social distancing, demand could greatly exceed hospital capacity. 
  • If social distancing is increased or other interventions to reduce transmission are implemented, the projected growth in infections and hospital demand is slower and, depending on the efficacy of these interventions, ICU capacity is reached in the fall or not at all.

The Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) assembled the expert group that works with the state on modeling projections. The group includes modeling scientists at the ColoradoSPH and the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, as well as experts from the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, and Colorado State University. 

The state will continue to review data and model findings as the pandemic continues to inform future policy decisions. 

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

July 9, 2020

Governor Polis Provides Update on State Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis was joined by Dr. Jonathan Samet, Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health to provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and unveiled an interactive Colorado COVID model from the Colorado School of Public Health. This is a new tool that can help individuals, businesses, local public health agencies and local governments, visualize their own role in stopping the spread of COVID and preventing a public health emergency.

“This exciting new tool at ColoradoCoronavirusmodel.com shows just how important our actions are in keeping our economy moving in the right direction and preventing a surge in cases. We are committed to using data and the latest information when making decisions, and this tool gives a glimpse into the type of data we are looking at,” said Governor Jared Polis. “It’s up to each of us to do a bit better than we have been at wearing masks, following social distancing protocols, and washing our hands. And not party. If we let up, even for a moment, then Colorado will begin to see more and more cases like our neighboring states. Wear a damn mask.”

This application displays the predictive model of the COVID-19 epidemic in Colorado. Coloradans can use the model to see how different factors, like wearing a mask, can change the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado in the future. The factors can be adjusted to see how different scenarios play out. 

For example, the following can be changed in the tool:

  • The current level of social distancing for the general population
  • The levels of social distancing for the general population starting in mid-August, about when many kids are going back to school
  • The level of social distancing for people over 65, who may be at a higher risk of a severe outcome if they contract covid
  • The portion of the population wearing masks
  • The number of contacts traced for every case
  • And how quickly those contacts are traced

Visit http://coloradocoronavirusmodel.com/ 

Gov. Polis today signed the Protect Our Neighbors Executive Order which directs CDPHE to create a certification process to allow local communities to move from Safer at Home in the Vast, Great Outdoors to Protect Our Neighbors. CDPHE will also issue a corresponding Public Health Order. To qualify for Protect Our Neighbors, a county or a region must: 

  • Certify that they meet qualification metrics established by CDPHE; and
  • Submit a mitigation and containment plan on what the county or region will do if they fall out of compliance with one or more of these metrics, and documentation of support for the plan by local officials, law enforcement, and any others identified by CDPHE. 

Governor Polis highlighted a study that shows nationwide, universal mask-wearing would save five percent of the national GDP, which is about a trillion dollars of economic activity. The Governor fully supports the local mask ordinances, and applauded community leaders that have helped pass them.

Gov. Polis also announced that the federal government has extended the application period for the Paycheck Protection Program until August 8. There is $129 billion remaining in the fund which can be used as forgivable loans for small businesses that need aid. Visit choosecolorado.com  for more information.

In May, the Office of eHealth Innovation and the eHealth Commission secured $2 million in funding for telemedicine projects in partnership with Health Care Policy and Financing from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid. Gov. Polis today announced the awardees for the first cohort of telemedicine projects. 

The Office of eHealth and the eHealth Commission will distribute $394,844 to the following organizations for their innovative efforts:

  • Axis Health System in Southwest Colorado
  • Beverly Hawp & Associates in Colorado Springs
  • Clinica Family Health in the North Denver Metro Area
  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless based in Denver
  • Developmental Disabilities Resource Center based in Lakewood, and 
  • Mental Health Center of Denver. 

These projects were selected because they will better prepare the state for the next phase of COVID-19, provide insight for key partners such as the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, and help solidify the new normal of expanded access to virtual care. 

Gov. Polis signed Executive Order D 2020 126, extending the temporary suspension of certain regulatory statutes concerning juvenile justice, regional centers, and behavioral health due to the presence of COVID-19.

View the Governor’s news conference and the Governor’s presentation

July 8, 2020

State health department releases information on Protect-Our-Neighbors certification

Local communities will only be able to qualify if they meet certain criteria

DENVER, July 8, 2020: Today the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released a guide and application form to allow local communities to apply for Protect-Our-Neighbors certification. Communities can only apply if they meet eight criteria—including declining cases-- and have attestation letters from hospitals, public health experts and local officials. Because cases are increasing in many counties throughout the state, most counties will not yet be eligible to apply for Protect Our Neighbors.

Local communities will be able to qualify for this status to gain more local control in their communities if they meet certain criteria, including low viral transmission and preparedness of the public health agency to successfully respond to an increase in cases. Once communities meet certification criteria, submit a surge mitigation plan, and are approved by the state, they will be able to permit activities at 50% of pre-pandemic capacity, with at least 6 feet between non-household members, and no more than 500 people in one setting at a time. The guide to apply for Protect Our Neighbors is available here and the form to apply for certification is available here.

The state also released information on how local communities can apply for planning and infrastructure grants. More information on grants are available here.

“We know that most Colorado communities are not ready to move into Protect Our Neighbors yet,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “But we wanted to make sure we shared these guidelines so communities could start planning. Preparing for this thoughtfully will help keep Colorado safe.”

In order for a community to qualify for Protect-Our-Neighbors certification status they must meet eight metrics in the following categories:

  • Low disease transmission levels (including stable or declining COVID-19 hospitalizations or fewer new cases in the past two weeks),
  • Local public health agency capacity for testing, case investigation, contact tracing, and outbreak response (including the ability to test 15 people per 10,000 residents per day; the ability to conduct case investigation and contact tracing for at least 85% of assigned cases within 24 hours; a plan that documents the ability to investigate and contact trace their share, based on population, of our state’s overall 500 cases per day goal; and strategies to offer testing to close contacts of outbreak-associated cases)
  • Hospital ability to meet the needs of all patients and handle the surge in demand for intensive hospital care (including the capacity to manage a 20% surge in hospital admissions/patient transfers and two weeks of PPE available.)

Protect Our Neighbors requires all Coloradans to continue to support and protect people who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults and people with underlying medical conditions. Different communities may be in different phases -- Stay-At-Home, Safer-At-Home, or Protect Our Neighbors -- and may move between levels during this pandemic. Communities that are able to loosen restrictions under Protect Our Neighbors may need to tighten restrictions again to Safer-at-Home or Stay-at-Home levels if they see case increases, outbreaks, or a surge on their hospital systems.

Communities that cannot meet certification criteria for Protect Our Neighbors are able to apply for variances at Safer at Home. When applying for a variance, counties must clearly indicate which provisions the county is requesting a variance from and describe preventive measures the county will require to meet the intent state’s orders.

For extensive information on Protect-Our-Neighbors, including guidance for communities to qualify for this phase, please visit covid19.colorado.gov/protect-our-neighbors

*Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

 

July 2, 2020

San Juan Basin Public Health Reminds Local Businesses, Workplaces, and Events to Self-Certify, Highlights Importance and Benefits of Disease Control for Employees and Customers

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reminds all businesses, workplaces, and events in La Plata County to complete the self-certification process required as per SJBPH’s public health order #SJBP-20-01, to demonstrate that they are meeting the state-required public health orders to control the spread of COVID-19. Businesses, workplaces and events in Archuleta County are encouraged to complete self-certification.

To date, SJBPH has received 1,180 self-certifications, with 147 of which are restaurants. Click here to see which businesses have self-certified, and here to see which restaurants have self-certified.

Benefits of self-certification:

  • Local businesses that have completed the self-certification have found it to be a useful tool that helped identify strengths and weaknesses of their operational plan for COVID prevention.
  • Self-certification provides a sense of security for employees by demonstrates an employer’s commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace.
  • Self-certification allows consumers to inform and protect themselves when patronizing a business/industry.
  • Self-certification increases the rate of disease control throughout the community mitigating disease exposure and potentially allows continued lessening of restrictions.
  • Self-certification provides written documentation of compliance with requirements potentially protecting a business from litigation if an outbreak is connected to a specific business operation.

All La Plata County businesses, workplaces, and events listed in CDPHE Seventh Amended Public Health Order 20-28 are required to self-certify according to SJBPH’s PHO #SJB-20-01. Archuleta County businesses are encouraged to complete a self-certification.  As more industries reopen and expanding operations continue, SJBPH reminds businesses and workplaces to self-certify and then re-self-certify as operations and guidance changes.

SJBPH does not review, approve, or deny disease control plans in advance of self-certification.

SJBPH thanks community members, and local businesses and organizations for taking steps to slow the spread of the virus by following public health orders and guidance. As a result, both Archuleta and La Plata counties have done well in containing the spread of COVID-19 and maintained low case counts.

As part of its commitment to keep the communities it serves safe and healthy, SJBPH reminds everyone to continue to adhere to the following public health guidelines to slow the spread of the virus, especially as the region experiences an influx of visitors from other locations and local businesses begin to lift restrictions.

  • Avoid close contact with others
    • Keep at least 6 feet from other people
    • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus
  • Wear face coverings when around others
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer if unable to wash hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Monitor your health
    • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.

*For more information on coronavirus see: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.

 

San Juan Basin Public Health Now Reporting Non-Resident COVID-19 Cases on Data Dashboard

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is now reporting the number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) identified at local testing sites from non-residents of Archuleta and La Plata counties. The data can be found on SJBPH’s data dashboard and provides insight into the prevalence of non-resident COVID-19 transmission.

Since June 1, SJBPH has tracked six non-resident cases of COVID-19 in Archuleta County, and three non-resident cases in La Plata County. The agency emphasizes that the data should be interpreted carefully because it may not include all individuals who could be positive for COVID-19 who are visiting the jurisdiction. The non-resident data includes the cases that SJBPH was notified of, and then performed a case investigation on in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

As tourism destinations, both Archuleta and La Plata counties are seeing an influx of visitors from potential hot spots, including Texas, Arizona and Utah. With the additional non-resident data, SJBPH stresses the importance of locals and visitors taking strong precautions against the spread of the virus, such as social distancing, wearing face coverings, and washing hands frequently.

“As the fourth of July holiday approaches, it is critical that we remain vigilant protecting ourselves from the spread of COVID-19,” said Liane Jollon, Executive Director of SJBPH. “While our communities have maintained low case counts, there are a number of our neighboring states experiencing increases. Providing non-resident case data will better inform our community about the local transmission of COVID-19 and serves as a reminder to continue to take stringent public health precautions.”

SJBPH thanks community members, and local businesses and organizations, for taking steps to slow the spread of the virus by following public health orders and guidance. As a result, both Archuleta and La Plata counties have maintained low case counts and encouraging public health statistics:

  • Both counties are in the bottom twenty percent of Colorado counties in cases per capita, despite high growth rates in neighboring counties.
  • Thanks to hard work on the part of long-term care facility staff and SJBPH, there are no outbreaks of COVID-19 among residents at local facilities. There have been 353 outbreaks elsewhere in Colorado.
  • Local hospitals have completed a medical surge plan and are able to care for patients without resorting to crisis standards of care.
  • Both counties have widespread testing availability and SJBPH has the capacity to follow up on every lab-confirmed positive test with contact tracing, isolation and quarantine resources, and case monitoring.

As Fourth of July approaches, SJBPH urges all local residents, visitors, businesses, and organizations to remain vigilant to reduce spread of COVID-19 by adhering to the following public health guidelines:

  • Avoid close contact with others
    • Keep at least 6 feet from other people
    • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus
  • Try to avoid gatherings with others outside of your own household
  • Wear face coverings when around others
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer if unable to wash hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Monitor your health
    • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19

In the effort to be transparent and provide important information to the communities it serves, SJBPH will continue to share information and data on the prevalence of non-resident COVID-19 transmission, as well as public health precautions to prevent spread of the virus. More information can be found at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.

June 30, 2020

Governor Polis Extends Safer at Home and Updates Protect Our Neighbor Framework, Announces Closure of Bars

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis today extended the Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors Executive Order, and provided an update on Colorado’s next steps during the COVID-19 pandemic, introducing more details on the Protect Our Neighbors framework. The Governor was joined by Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment; Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s top epidemiologist; Joni Reynolds, the Gunnison County Public Health Director; and Jason Vahling, the City and County of Broomfield Public Health Director.

“Protect Our Neighbors will allow Colorado to respond more swiftly and effectively at the community level in the event of another surge of cases. We live in a diverse state with cities, booming suburbs, small resort towns, and rural areas with plenty of wide-open spaces. Each community is having their own unique experience with this virus. Going forward, we want to increase our ability to tackle outbreaks at a community level and only issue statewide orders when absolutely necessary,” said Gov. Polis. “We are making some much-needed investments in our local public health agencies, so they can contain and quell an outbreak before it gets out of control. The fate of Colorado in both virus suppression and economic recovery is largely in the hands of Coloradans. If we continue taking the critical steps of staying at home, wearing masks when leaving the house and following social distancing practices, then we will get through this together.”

The Governor did not announce any additional relaxing of restrictions today, but described the new phase: Protect Our Neighbors that will give local communities more freedom to provide economic opportunity while ensuring that they have the necessary public health capacity. The introduction of the new phase means that different parts of the state could be at different phases of reopening, based on local conditions and capabilities. 

“Each day, we make progress to build the capacity of our public health system -- from ramping up statewide testing sites to onboarding new case investigators and contact tracers systemwide, to identifying creative ways to aggressively acquire PPE. I am proud of the team at CDPHE who have stood strong during this very difficult time, and I’m grateful for our local public health partners who are leading the response against COVID in their communities,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment. “It is important that Coloradans don’t let up now, and this new phase - Protect Our Neighbors - isn’t just words. It means we all accept personal responsibility for the things we can do every day to keep ourselves and others healthy.” 

Moving forward, communities that can demonstrate strong public health and health care systems, paired with low virus levels, can take on more control over their reopening plans. In order to reopen to this greater extent, communities must have: 

  • Low virus prevalence; 
  • Health care capacity to handle a surge; and  
  • Strong public health capacity to contain outbreaks and surges locally, including the ability to test, track, and trace.

In order to qualify for Protect Our Neighbors, a county (or region) must do two things:

  • Certify qualification according to the scientific metrics; and
  • Submit a mitigation and containment plan on what the county or region will do if they fall out of compliance with any of the metrics. This containment plan must be accompanied by letters of support from local elected leaders including county commissioners and mayors, the hospitals that serve that community, law enforcement, county emergency management, local public health, and if applicable, tribes.

The certification process will begin next week. To learn more about how a community can qualify, click here

Communities in Protect Our Neighbors will be able to permit all activities to occur at 50 percent of pre-pandemic capacity, with at least six feet between non-household members and no more than 500 people in one setting at a time. Local communities may issue more detailed guidelines or public health orders for different settings, so long as the capacity does not exceed these caps. 

The Governor also discussed funding and support for local governments as Colorado looks to move into Protect Our Neighbors. In total, the state is investing $346 million in state and local capacity, with $75 million going directly from the state to Local Public Health Agencies. Gov. Polis also announced two new sources of available funding: a Planning Grant or Infrastructure Strengthening Grant. 

All counties or local public health agencies can apply for a Planning Grant of up to $50,000. If counties have already identified infrastructure needs, they may apply for Infrastructure Strengthening Grants, with a maximum state award of $150,000 and a maximum total grant of $300,000. These grants will require local matching funds and can be spent on investments such as technology, community resource coordination, communication activities to increase compliance with the public health orders, funding for community-based partners and cultural brokers, and enhanced prevention and containment efforts.

Governor Polis announced the closure of bars. Bars that have taken steps to open as restaurants may continue to operate in-person service, so long as they have patrons seated with their own party only in set seating, spaced six feet apart, and with no mingling. Bars are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages to-go for takeout or delivery consumption if the alcoholic beverages are sold with food. All of the guidelines previously in place around social distancing still apply. Bars may still operate if open under a county variance pursuant to the terms of that county variance. More information can be found in the Governor’s Executive Order.

*View the Governor’s presentation. Watch the full news conference on the Governor’s Facebook page

 

State health department releases Protect-Our-Neighbors roadmap 

Local communities will be able to qualify if they meet certain criteria

DENVER, June 30, 2020: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) today announced the final roadmap for local communities to qualify for the Protect our Neighbors phase of the COVID-19 response. Local communities will be able to qualify for this status to gain more local control in their communities if they meet certain criteria, including low viral transmission and preparedness of the public health agency to successfully respond to an increase in cases. Once communities meet certification criteria, submit a surge mitigation plan, and are approved by the state, they will be able to permit activities at 50% of pre-pandemic capacity, with at least 6 feet between non-household members, and no more than 500 people in one setting at a time. 

“This is the gold standard of pandemic preparedness, and it is a goal for our communities to aspire to. Not all of our communities will be able to achieve this goal immediately, ” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “It’s going to be up to all of us to keep wearing masks, washing our hands, and keeping our distance. We need to all do our part to keep transmissions low and prevent a surge on our hospital systems.”

Next week, CDPHE will provide more information and training on the process for applying for certification, as well as grant funding that will be available to help communities enhance their COVID-19-related planning and infrastructure.

Three things will enable a community to qualify for Protect-Our-Neighbors certification status:

  • Low disease transmission levels (including stable or declining COVID-19 hospitalizations or fewer new cases in the past two weeks),
  • Local public health agency capacity for testing, case investigation, contact tracing, and outbreak response (including the ability to test 15 people per 10,000 residents per day; the ability to conduct case investigation and contact tracing for at least 85% of assigned cases within 24 hours; a plan that documents the ability to investigate and contact trace their share, based on population, of our state’s overall 500 cases per day goal; and strategies to offer testing to close contacts of outbreak-associated cases)
  • Hospital ability to meet the needs of all patients and handle the surge in demand for intensive hospital care (including the capacity to manage a 20% surge in hospital admissions/patient transfers and two weeks of PPE available.)

A county may seek to qualify for Protect Our Neighbors by themselves, or voluntarily form a “region” with neighboring counties. Communities that can demonstrate strong public health and health care systems -- paired with low virus levels -- can take on more control over their own reopening plans and help the state avoid statewide shutdowns. 

“Protect Our Neighbors empowers local governments, public health agencies and partners to meet the needs of their communities and scale their response,” said Hunsaker Ryan. “If communities are successful in controlling the outbreak locally, the state will not have to rely on suppressing the virus through extreme statewide shutdowns.”

Protect Our Neighbors requires all Coloradans to continue to support and protect people who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults and people with underlying medical conditions. It’s important to remember that different communities may be in different phases -- Stay-At-Home, Safer-At-Home, or Protect Our Neighbors -- and may move between levels during this pandemic. Communities that are able to loosen restrictions under Protect Our Neighbors may need to tighten restrictions again to Safer-at-Home or Stay-at-Home levels if they see case increases, outbreaks, or a surge on their hospital systems.

The Protect-Our-Neighbors metrics were drafted by a workgroup consisting of epidemiologists and public health experts from the CDPHE, the University of Colorado School of Public Health, and local public health agencies from across the state. The group included representatives from urban, rural and frontier counties. In addition, the workgroup consulted health care coalitions and health care systems leadership in drafting treatment metrics. They met over the course of five sessions and reviewed scientific literature, case studies, and expert consultation to develop metrics that would achieve the goal of ensuring that they signify a systems readiness for broader reopening.

In order to help support communities’ ability to achieve success, the state is making additional federal CARES Act funding available: 

  • Planning Grant of up to $50,000 to engage consultants and community partners, and to fund community engagement efforts with communities impacted by and at increased risk.  
  • Infrastructure Strengthening Grants of up to $300,000 (up to $150,000 in state funds + local match) to invest in technology; community resource coordination; communication activities to increase compliance with the public health orders; funding for community-based partners and cultural brokers; and enhanced prevention and containment efforts. 

For extensive information on Protect-Our-Neighbors, including guidance for communities to qualify for this phase, please visit covid19.colorado.gov/protect-our-neighbors

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

 

June 26, 2020

Successful San Juan Basin Public Health and Mercy Regional Testing Partnership Reaches 1,000-Test Milestone

A successful San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and Mercy Regional Medical Center (MRMC) COVID-19 testing partnership has reached a milestone of over 1,000 individuals tested. The drive-through site operated by MRMC in conjunction with SJBPH has tested over 1,051 people, as of June 20th. Testing continues to increase with an average of 75 tests per day.

Community-wide coronavirus testing is a key strategy in slowing the spread of the virus so SJBPH, MRMC and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) worked together to provide free testing since May 7th, 2020. High testing rates are vital as restrictions on businesses and community gatherings continue to be relaxed by the State of Colorado, and the state has indicated that future stages on the road to recovery may be dependent on availability of community testing.

The MRMC drive through testing site is one of five community testing options in Archuleta and La Plata counties. Thanks to healthcare providers’ participation, SJBPH coordination, and CDPHE support, Archuleta and La Plata counties have been able to maintain a high testing rate since early May.

The MRMC drive through site has also been utilized as part of SJBPH’s targeted testing for local businesses and organizations that experience a high level of interactions with the public, such as first responders, restaurant workers, and retail employees. Over twenty businesses and government agencies have taken advantage of this testing opportunity to provide the safest possible experience for their patrons and staff. For more information on local testing options, including workplace testing, see: https://sjbpublichealth.org/testing/.

SJBPH thanks community members, and local businesses and organizations for taking steps to slow the spread of the virus by following public health orders and guidance. As a result, both Archuleta and La Plata counties have maintained low case counts and encouraging public health statistics:

  • Both counties are in the bottom twenty percent of Colorado counties in cases per capita, despite high growth rates in neighboring states.
  • Thanks to hard work on the part of long-term care facility staff and SJBPH, there are no outbreaks of COVID-19 among residents at local facilities. There have been 337 such outbreaks elsewhere in Colorado.
  • Local hospitals have completed a medical surge plan and are able to care for patients without resorting to crisis standards of care.
  • SJBPH has the capacity to follow up on every lab-confirmed positive test with contact tracing, isolation and quarantine resources, and case monitoring.

As part of its commitment to keep the communities it serves safe and healthy, SJBPH reminds everyone to continue to adhere to the following public health guidelines to slow the spread of the virus, especially as the region experiences an influx of visitors from other locations and local businesses begin to lift restrictions.

  • Avoid close contact with others
    • Keep at least 6 feet from other people
    • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus
  • Wear face coverings when around others
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer if unable to wash hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Monitor your health
    • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.

For more information on coronavirus see: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.

June 22, 2020

Governor Polis Takes Action in Response to COVID-19

DENVER - Gov. Polis signed Executive Orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coloradans have done a great job wearing masks when leaving the house, staying physically distant from others, and washing our hands but we are only a few short steps ahead of the virus and we need to do better. The data is now starting to show a reversal of some of our gains, the 3-day moving average for cases is now going up in our state,” said Governor Polis. “This emergency extension helps Colorado further support our response efforts and remain prepared in the face of this global pandemic. I encourage all Coloradans to stay vigilant and we will get through this together.” 

Gov. Polis signed Executive Order D 2020 109, extending the state of disaster emergency and providing additional funds for response activities due to the presence of coronavirus. 

“Workers in stores and public-facing businesses have been wearing facial masks, and more and more companies are now thankfully requiring that customers wear masks to keep one another safe. Costco, Pizzeria Locale, and more and more Colorado businesses now require customers to wear masks. Today we are further protecting our state and county workers from infection by adding this best practice to the way we as a state do business,” said Governor Polis. “While we are doing our best to help people access public services virtually from the safety of your home, customers needing in-person services at our state and county government facilities will now also be safer by ensuring that those around them wear facial masks and I continue to encourage other businesses to make the right decision to protect their employees and customers by putting in place and enforcing mask requirements.”

“I direct the Executive Director of CDPHE to issue a public health order requiring that employees, contractors, and others providing services for Mass Transportation Operations and Critical Businesses where employees, contractors, or others who interact in close proximity with other employees or with the public must: 1. Wear medical or non-medical cloth face coverings that cover the nose and mouth while working, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health,” the Executive Order reads. 

Gov. Polis also signed Executive Order D 2020 108, to increase the Medicaid home health workforce and eliminate cost-sharing for coronavirus testing and treatment for Medicaid enrollees. “This Executive Order extends Executive Order D 2020 077, which suspends certain statutes to preserve the State’s Medicaid home health workforce and protect Medicaid enrollees from COVID-19 by reducing the need for in-person visits. I also temporarily suspend statutory requirements for cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment for Medicaid enrollees,” the Executive Order reads. 

Governor Polis also extended Executive Order D 2020 112, concerning criminal justice as well as Executive Order D 2020 111, issuing emergency rules extending the expiration date of licenses and other documents. 

 

State health department releases amended public health order for Safer-at-Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors

Additional activities, including events and bars, allowed with abundant precautions

DENVER, June 19, 2020: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released an amended Public Health Order 20-28 for the Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors phase. This public health order allows bars to open following updated restaurant guidance and provides updated guidance for higher education, personal services, and manufacturing. It also outlines the steps required to allow residential camps and indoor and outdoor events to resume while minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19. 

The department sought and incorporated feedback from the public and stakeholders before finalizing the guidance released June 18. The new guidance and changes are listed below.

  • Guidance for residential camps. This guidance allows groups of 25 or fewer campers outdoors and 10 or fewer indoors. Designated camp groups must not mix with other groups, and camps must train staff about COVID-19 precautions and be able to isolate sick staff or campers.
  • Guidance for indoor events and outdoor events. This guidance includes limiting capacity based on the square footage of the event space, implementing single-direction traffic and social distancing at entrances and exits, and booth layouts that promote social distancing. Planners can use this Social Distancing Space Calculator tool to calculate the appropriate square footage to keep staff and customers safe. This tool is based on a model built by Boulder County.
  • Guidance for bars and restaurants. This guidance increases the capacity at restaurants and allows bars to open, following the same guidance. Outdoor bar service may be done in conjunction with local authorities. The guidance also states that extra-large venues can possibly have more than 50 patrons, but should use the Social Distancing Space Calculator tool to determine how many additional patrons over 50 they can accommodate indoors, up to 100 patrons total.
  • Guidance for higher education.  The guidance encourages continued remote learning, but states that institutes of higher education may open up to 50% capacity per room, up to 50 people. Similarly, they can use the Social Distancing Space Calculator tool to determine how many students over 50 they can accommodate, up to 100 total.
  • Guidance for personal services. This new guidance allows for services that necessitate the removal of the customer’s mask or face covering (e.g. for facials, beard trims, etc.), as long as the service provider takes extra precautions, such as requiring them to wear a face shield while conducting the service. The new guidance reinforces the need for masks or face coverings to be worn at all other times, as well as the need to ensure a minimum of 6 feet of separation between work stations, customers, and customers and providers when services are not being performed.
  • Guidance for manufacturing. This guidance states that manufacturing may resume with up to 50% capacity per room, or up to 50 people, whichever is fewer. Worksites must implement procedures to ensure 6 feet of distance between employees, unless doing so impacts worker safety. Employees and visitors are required to wear masks or face coverings whenever possible, unless doing so would inhibit the employee’s health. 

Public health orders establish requirements that Coloradans must follow while guidance documents provide clear instructions for how businesses and individuals can comply with the public health orders. 

For extensive information on Safer-at-Home, including sector-specific guidance, please visit covid19.colorado.gov/safer-at-home

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

June 5, 2020

San Juan Basin Public Health Issues Public Health Order to Improve Infection Prevention at Recreation Businesses and Facilities, Short-Term Rentals, and Houses of Worship

Durango, Colo.: San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is committed to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to take strong actions to keep our community healthy. SJBPH’s actions and the community’s sacrifices have resulted in Archuleta and La Plata counties having some of the lowest COVID-19 case counts per capita in Colorado. To continue to control the spread as the state allows developed recreation activities, short-term rentals, and houses of worship to reopen with capacity restrictions and requirements for social distancing and cleaning, SJBPH has issued a public health order for La Plata County to require that these operations complete an infection prevention checklist and self-certify their compliance with state public health orders to SJBPH.

Developed recreation activities allowed to open with strict infection prevention requirements in the latest state public health order include:

  • Guide services for fishing, biking, hunting, etc.
  • Raft, ATV, and jeep tours
  • Swimming pools and hot springs
  • Organized recreational sports leagues
  • Gyms and fitness centers

SJBPH’s order will help protect La Plata County residents from COVID-19 as the agency continues to work aggressively to mitigate the spread of the virus, while also supporting the safe re-opening of specific types of businesses. “We all know that staying at home to contain this novel virus was extraordinarily difficult for everyone,” said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon. “Recreation, travel and worship, when done safely, can be the most important outlets to reduce stress and combat the effects of social isolation,” said Jollon. “We know that these operations want to provide a safe and welcoming environment and we’ve already seen many of them come up with creative solutions to open once and open right.”

Operations in La Plata County must self-certify by June 11th or prior to opening to the public. The SJBPH order does not apply in Archuleta County but recreation businesses, houses of worship, and short-term rentals there are encouraged to complete the self-certification checklist to ensure that their infection prevention plans comply with state requirements.

Over 1,000 businesses and community organizations have already self-certified their infection prevention operations to SJBPH in compliance with the Safer La Plata Public Health Order that SJBPH issued on April 28th. “This simple requirement places good public health practice in the forefront of the business operation in a time when we all need to take care of each other to control the spread of disease,” said Jollon.

Good practices at retail and service businesses, along with social distancing, widespread wearing of face coverings, and partnerships between SJBPH, the medical community and government agencies have limited the spread of COVID-19 in Archuleta and La Plata counties:

  • Both counties are in the bottom twenty percent of Colorado counties in cases per capita, despite high growth rates in neighboring counties
  • Local hospitals have completed a medical surge plan and are able to care for patients without resorting to crisis standards of care
  • Both counties have widespread testing availability and SJBPH has the capacity to follow up on every lab-confirmed positive test with contact tracing, isolation and quarantine resources, and case monitoring

“We have been successful so far,” added Jollon, “but we should not get complacent. The virus is still circulating in our community. SJBPH reminds everyone that staying at home is still the safest option, and we encourage people taking advantage of newly reopened activities and facilities to do so close to their own home, rather than traveling into other communities that may have higher burdens of disease or less public health capacity. We all need to be thoughtful about recreation, travel, and group gatherings to keep our community safe.”

The order will be in effect until July 1 unless extended, amended, or rescinded by SJBPH.

For the most up to date information on how to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community.

 

Gov. Polis Cuts Red Tape for Restaurants, Allows More Flexibility in Licensing

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis signed an Executive Order cutting red tape for restaurants and suspending certain statutes to remove bureaucratic barriers to serving alcoholic beverages in temporary outdoor dining spaces. 

“We know this is a difficult time for so many Coloradans, especially those in our restaurant and service industry. That’s why we want to cut as much red tape as we can to ensure that restaurants can get creative in serving customers for outdoor dining in as safe and easy a manner as possible,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I’m proud of the entrepreneurial spirit of Coloradans and know many business owners have had to find new, innovative ways to serve their customers these past few months. It remains critical that Coloradans continue wearing masks when they leave the house and washing their hands as much as possible. While we are able to slowly take these steps toward some semblance of normalcy, we are far from how things used to be and we must continue taking the necessary steps to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe.”

This Executive Order allows restaurants to obtain temporary approval from State and local licensing authorities to modify their licensed premises to include outdoor dining areas within 1,000 feet of the restaurant, and also allows for the consumption of alcoholic beverages on a public right of way that has been authorized by ordinance, resolution, or rule adopted by a municipality, city and county, or county.

This Executive Order also requires the Department of Revenue’s Liquor Enforcement Division to respond to the submission of an application for the temporary modification of a license within 24 hours to prevent any delays in restaurants offering safer outdoor service during the pandemic.

 

June 2, 2020

Governor Polis Provides Update on COVID-19 Response, Discusses Recent Demonstrations

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and discussed Safer at Home and In the Vast, Great Outdoors. The Governor also addressed the senseless murder of George Floyd and demonstrations in Denver and across the country. 

“Our state has some of the most beautiful natural open spaces in the world and we want Coloradans to safely enjoy our vast, great outdoors. While we are all still safer at home, we are also able to practice better social distancing in our great outdoors than in confined indoor spaces,” said Gov. Polis.  

“What happened to George Floyd was not only wrong, it was brutal. It was inhumane. It was murder,” Governor Polis continued. “But the reality is that this is much larger than the need to hold one officer and others accountable. It’s about a pattern of injustice and unfair treatment that Black Americans and communities of color have endured, not only in our criminal justice system, but in every area of American society. We need to listen to the voices of those who are crying out for reform, and we need to take action. To those peacefully protesting, I want you to know that I see you, I hear you and I grieve with you. And more importantly, I want to work with you. Spray paint can be power washed, and windows can be fixed, but the black lives taken can’t be replaced or brought back, and the pain and injustices that our black community members have suffered will take years and decades to repair. I am ready, willing, and eager to be your partner in that work.”

The Governor provided an update on Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors, encouraging Coloradans to enjoy the state’s incredible outdoor spaces, where people are better able to follow social distancing requirements. The level of risk for outdoor activities is low enough that older Coloradans and those with underlying conditions are now able to go outside and participate in Colorado’s natural beauty. Everyone should continue wearing a mask and following social distancing requirements while outdoors. 

The Governor also discussed the levels of risk Coloradans can be exposed to through various activities. Staying home is considered low risk, outdoor activities is considered a moderate risk, outdoor gatherings are a higher risk, and indoor gatherings are the highest risk. 

The state is also opening up playgrounds and swimming pools at limited capacity, and has also released draft guidance on reopening houses of worship, certain forms of outdoor recreation and personal recreation, and updates to the child care and personal services guidances. The state is currently soliciting feedback, which can be submitted here. Final versions will be released on Thursday.

Gov. Polis today announced that Colorado is now running 7,000 - 8,000 tests per day. The state now believes it is capturing 50% of symptomatic cases, up from 33% and growing. 

In addition, Gov. Polis announced a new partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), who will mobilize more than 800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to support the state’s COVID-19 response through contact tracing and other associated work.

Contact tracing means following up with individuals who came into contact with an infected individual to ensure they get tested and quarantine themselves if necessary. 300 AmeriCorps NCCC members, based out of the Southwest Region Campus in Aurora, will start immediately. 350 VISTA Summer Associates will be hosted by the Community Resource Center in Denver and Conservation Legacy in Durango, both existing AmeriCorps VISTA projects, with 100-200 additional Senior Corps volunteers to join in Denver.

With more than one thousand contact tracers working in Colorado, the state will be able to address outbreaks more quickly, which will reduce infections and save lives. 

Organizations are currently recruiting for the new positions announced today, the first of which begin on June 22. Those who serve as VISTA Summer Associates will earn a stipend and an education award at the end of their service. For more information on requirements and details on how to apply visit www.colorado.gov/servecolorado

View the full news conference

 

State health department amends Safer-At-Home public health order allowing additional activities under abundant precaution

DENVER, June 2, 2020: In accordance with Governor Jared Polis’ executive order, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) extended the Safer-at-Home public health order until July 1. All individuals currently living within the State of Colorado are encouraged to stay at home or in the vast, great outdoors and avoid unnecessary interactions whenever possible to reduce the spread of disease.

The Safer at Home Executive Order has been amended and extended until July 1, 2020. According to that order, additional businesses can open and activities can resume with abundant precautions. The orders may be changed or extended again.

For extensive information on Safer-at-Home, including sector-specific guidance, please visit covid19.colorado.gov/safer-at-home. New guidance for short-term rentals went into effect yesterday, as well as updated guidance for personal services and child care.

All services included in the public health order are subject to physical distancing requirements. They are also encouraged to implement symptom monitoring protocols, including temperature monitoring and symptom screening questions, where possible. Additional guidance can be found here.  

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is continuing to seek feedback on draft guidelines for houses of worship, outdoor recreation, and personal recreation, which is expected to be finalized by June 4. Coloradans can review draft guidelines in the following areas, and provide feedback. 

The deadline for providing feedback is Wednesday, June 3, at noon. The draft guidance may be updated based on stakeholder feedback and will go in effect when announced as final on June 4.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

May 30, 2020

Free COVID-19 Testing Expands To New Location

Testing site on Mercy’s main campus open to symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals

(DURANGO, COLO.) San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and Centura Health-Mercy Regional Medical Center are excited to announce that they have partnered to expand diagnostic (PCR) COVID-19 testing by moving to a new location. Symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals can now be tested at Mercy’s main campus in the parking lot located on the east side of Mercy Hospice House, 1010 Three Springs Blvd. Please follow the posted signage to the designated testing area.

The new site will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 8:00 a.m. to noon Saturday.

“Mercy’s strong partnership with San Juan Basin Public Health has enabled us to further increase access to testing for our community,” said Mike Murphy, Mercy CEO. “It is our goal to make testing conveniently and readily available to every member of our community.” 

“Diagnostic testing is the cornerstone of controlling the spread of COVID-19 and a key factor in keeping communities safe and healthy,” said SJBPH Executive Director, Liane Jollon. “We acknowledge the work of community members to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and encourage them to continue to do so by taking advantage of this testing opportunity,” Jollon said.

This new location provides adequate space for traffic and is able to support in-vehicle, drive-thru testing. Individuals should remain in their vehicles.

Testing is open to any member of the general public (symptomatic and asymptomatic) who wishes to receive a COVID-19 screening test. Neither an appointment or physician order are needed. Testing is provided free of charge. Tested individuals will receive notification of results within 24-48 hours except for negative results received during the weekend, in which case individuals will be notified the following business day.

For more information, call (970) 385-9850.

Cedar Diagnostics also provides PCR diagnostic testing in La Plata County.

May 29, 2020

San Juan Basin Public Health and Axis Health System Partner to Provide Free COVID-19 Community Testing in Archuleta County

Pagosa Springs, Colo.: Axis Health System (Axis) and San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) are partnering to provide drive-through COVID-19 testing at the Archuleta Integrated Healthcare clinic which is located at 52 Village Drive in Pagosa Springs. Drive-through community testing will be available on Tuesdays from 12pm to 4:30pm by appointment only. Testing will start on Tuesday, June 2nd and continue through Tuesday, August 25th, depending on community need.

Because this will be a drive-through testing site, appointments are required to manage traffic concerns and distancing requirements. Please call Archuleta Integrated Healthcare at 970-264-2104 to make an appointment. Quick facts about this community testing effort:

  • No referrals or doctors’ orders are needed.
  • Testing is open to all members of the community.
  • There is no fee for testing from June 2nd through August 25th.

The COVID-19 tests have been provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in an effort to expand community testing efforts throughout Colorado. Individuals who are part of this community testing effort will be contacted by a medical provider from Archuleta Integrated Healthcare with their results.

“Archuleta Integrated Healthcare is excited to partner with SJBPH to offer drive-thru community testing in Archuleta County. We hope that this additional testing capacity will help bring some peace of mind to people who may have been exposed and anxious to know if they  have the virus. This will also help the community to continue to refine the efforts to contain the spread based on increased test data,” said Dr. Luke Casias, Medical Director at Axis.

“We are pleased to partner with Axis Health System to expand testing in Archuleta County,” said SJBPH Executive Director, Liane Jollon. “We appreciate the efforts of community members to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and encourage them to continue to do so by taking advantage of this testing opportunity,” Jollon said. “Diagnostic testing is the cornerstone of controlling the spread of the disease and a key factor in keeping communities safe and healthy,” she said.

For the most up to date information on the coronavirus, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.

 

Axis Health System provides quality healthcare across the lifespan in Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata, San Juan, and Archuleta counties. AHS has nine locations in Southwest Colorado and offers primary, behavioral and oral healthcare, and crisis response, and stabilization. For crisis support, please contact the 24/7 Axis Care Hotline at 970.247.5245. For more information about our services, please visit www.AXIShealthsystem.org


For media inquiries, please contact:
Haley Leonard Saunders/Director of Public Relations/Axis Health System at 314.368.2723/ hleonard@axishealthsystem.org

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community.

 

May 11, 2020

Governor Polis Updates Coloradans on Timeline for Decision Making Under Safer at Home Phase

DENVER - Gov. Polis today provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and a timeline for decision-making during the Safer at Home phase. 

“I’m sharing Colorado’s decision making timeline and factors because I want to be as transparent as possible as to what the next few weeks will look like. Just as retail stores had some time to prepare to reopen after we announced it in April, our restaurants need a few days to get ready and be as safe as possible. We control our own destiny and our decisions will depend on what the data is telling us about how people are succeeding at wearing masks and staying apart during Safer at Home,” said Governor Jared Polis. “If folks are doing a good job at social distancing, staying at home, and wearing masks or facial coverings when going out, it will show up in the data, and we will excitedly remove additional restrictions on our economy. If not, some communities could be forced to look at implementing additional temporary restrictions.”

Gov. Polis announced that the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has determined that C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock is causing an imminent health hazard. CDPHE is using its authority under the Colorado Food Protection Act to suspend the license of the business indefinitely until it can be established that there is no longer a threat to public health.

As Colorado continues Safer at Home, there are a number of criteria the Governor is considering when making decisions on what can be reopened safely.

  • What level of suppression of the virus has been achieved?
  •  
  • What is the ability to do testing and containment? 
  •  
  • Will this decision put vulnerable populations at significantly greater risk?
  •  
  • Does the health care system have the capacity to handle a surge?
  •  
  • What’s the level of risk vs. societal / economic / psychological reward? 
  •  
  • Is the policy sustainable?

 

The Governor provided updates for when decisions would be possibly made around whether or not Colorado can begin to reopen other industries or loosen restrictions. These dates do not reflect when an industry may or may not open, only when the state will have more data to inform a decision around when they may be able to open and at what level. 

  • May 25 - the state will decide whether ski resorts can be open for Spring skiing. Resorts will only open if the host county wants them open.
  •  
  • May 25 - the state will decide if restaurants can begin reopening and at what level. 
  •  
  • May 25 - the state will decide if summer residential and day camps can open in June, and ifso, under what conditions.
  • After June 1 - the state will decide if the Safer at Home order can be further modified to phase in other things like summer activities and public spaces like libraries. The Governor will make these decisions on a rolling basis, based on the latest data and evidence.

Gov. Polis announced that starting May 12, Coloradans may begin booking campsites at campgrounds in state parks where host counties that would like them open. Sites must observe social distance and sanitation guidelines and accept campers by reservation only. This is not a request for counties to open their campgrounds, but if they choose to do so, counties can work with the Department of Public Health and Environment and Department of Natural Resources to do so as safely as possible. Coloradans are still encouraged to recreate locally.  Coloradans must make a reservation at cpwshop.com 

The Governor also announced a partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS, Gary Community Investments, and the Colorado Education Initiative called Colorado Classroom: Learning at Home! starting Monday, May 18th at 8:00 a.m. Every Monday through Friday for the next five weeks, Rocky Mountain PBS will provide two hours of standards-aligned K-3 literacy and English language development lessons by master teachers to students across the state - from the Eastern plains to the Western slope - on Rocky Mountain PBS’s station.

The Governor and state know COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting communities of color and want to hear directly from all Coloradans so the state can have an informed public policy response that meets the needs of everyone. Visit covid19.colorado.gov and click on COVID-19 in Colorado and then the health equity response team to fill out the survey regarding your top concerns related to COVID-19 and racial disparities. Coloradan’s responses will remain anonymous and will help inform the work of the team from a community perspective.

For more information and FAQ’s about Safer At Home visit ColoradoSaferAtHome.com 

View the Governor’s presentation and the news conference

**Correction: During his prepared remarks while reflecting on the now 987 Coloradans who have lost their lives to COVID-19, Gov. Polis noted that John Sanchez was from Durango. Mr. Sanchez was from Denver. After his passing, his daughter said, “my dad was my everything. He was the best father, grandfather, son, friend, everything. He was a rare soul. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself and your family safe, quarantine, just take it serious because this could happen to anyone,” his daughter said.

May 9, 2020

San Juan Basin Public Health Confirms First Fatality in La Plata County In Patient With COVID-19 

Durango, Colo.: San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is reporting that a resident of La Plata County has died of COVID-19. This person, an adult, is the first lab-confirmed individual to die of the disease in La Plata County.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this community member.”, said SJBPH Executive Director, Liane Jollon. “While we have expected more cases, this death is an unfortunate milestone in our efforts to fight this outbreak.”, she said. “This tragic death underscores the urgent need for us to take extra steps to protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to developing more serious illness, including older adults and those who have underlying health conditions.” 

To prevent further spread of disease and to protect vulnerable people, including older adults and those with underlying health conditions including those with heart and lung disease, pregnant women, and people with diabetes, SJBPH urges everyone to: 

  • Stay at home. Only leave your home for things such as grocery shopping, getting needed medication at the pharmacy, or to going to work.
  • If you do leave your home, wear a face covering over your nose and mouth, and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other individuals.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • If you are sick, stay at home.

“We are working with our state and federal partners to limit the impacts of this disease to our community, but we need the public’s help as well.”, Jollon said. “Each and every one of us are responsible for making the important choices needed to slow the spread of this disease and protect the health and safety of everyone in our community.”

For the most up to date information on how to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community.

 

May 1, 2020

CDOT and DNR remind people to stay local, limit travel this weekend

STATEWIDE - With the weekend approaching and warm temperatures tempting Coloradans, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are reminding people to keep recreational activities within 10 miles of home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Digital message boards on Colorado roadways across the state will remind motorists about the restrictions and to stay close to home.

This week Governor Polis moved the state from a “stay-at-home” to a “safer-at-home” status. Coloradans are still urged to stay home but continue to avoid unnecessary travel and visiting our mountain communities. Coloradans along the Front Range should not travel to the mountains or foothills to hike, ski, snowmobile or engage in any other recreational activities. Residents are reminded to stay in their local neighborhoods or communities this weekend. 

The virus is still present in Colorado and can re-surge at any time. According to the Center for Disease Control, any travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19 across communities.  Many Colorado counties have extended their local Stay-At-Home orders. Check with your local public health agency for the latest local ordinances. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/find-your-local-public-health-agency

“With the good weather, it may be enticing to head to the mountains this weekend,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT. “However, we have a responsibility to protect our state and our community by staying close to home during this pandemic. Please follow the public health order and recreate within 10 miles of home. It’s up to us all to keep each other safe.”

Campgrounds at State Parks and on National Forests and other recreation areas remain closed. Picnic areas and facilities at some trailheads are not available and some backcountry parking lots are closed (or have limited capacity). Coloradans are urged to be aware of any local closures or public health orders and avoid busy trailheads.

“Colorado has made great progress in reducing the threat of COVID-19 but we all must continue to do our part,” said Dan Gibbs, executive director of DNR. “Our favorite trail or mountain crag will be there for us when this pandemic is over. For the next few weeks, Coloradans need to stay close to home and look for recreation opportunities within 10 miles of where they live.  Taking a brisk walk, bike ride or run to a different part of your community are all good activities to do in lieu of heading to our mountains or other further destinations.”

There’s still plenty of ways to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of Colorado’s outdoors. Stay close to home, and choose times and places where you can maintain six feet of physical distance between yourself and others.

Other general reminders include:

  • Recreate locally. Keep recreational activities within 10 miles of home to prevent disease spread. 
  • If you are in the Denver metro area, don't travel to our mountain communities.
  • Reduce visits to the trails and open spaces in the foothills.
  • If you live outside the Denver metro area, avoid traveling to Denver for recreational activities.
  • Individuals may participate in local and personal recreation in outside public spaces, as an authorized Necessary Activity, in groups no larger than 10 and practicing social distancing maintaining 6 feet between participants. 
  • Wear a mask when participating in activities.

Car crashes are consistently among the leading injury-related reasons for emergency room admissions in Colorado. If Coloradans must drive, they are reminded to obey the speed limit, avoid distractions, and never drive impaired.

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community.

San Juan Basin Public Health Launches Business Self-Certification Tool for Businesses in La Plata County

Durango, Colo.: Today, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) launched a self-certification tool for businesses and worksites planning to re-open in La Plata County, as well as those already open, to demonstrate their compliance with the requirements issued in Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE)  Public Health Order 20-28.  CDPHE’s order provides public health guidance for Governor Polis’s ‘Safer at Home’ Executive Order. SJBPH is hopeful that taking these precautions now will improve the odds of keeping businesses open in the long run, by reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Self-certification is a requirement of SJBPH’s public health order ‘Safer La Plata’ to ensure that businesses and worksites reopening or already open in La Plata County are implementing required precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All businesses in the county are required to self-certify, including those already open.

SJBPH asks that local businesses and worksites complete steps in order below to meet self-certification requirements:

  • Review the guidance document issued by the state that provides requirements for specific business categories found here: https://tinyurl.com/ybl945ht
  • Implement requirements according to state guidelines
  • Complete SJBPH’s self-certification form before May 8th if planning to open on that date, or before opening at a later date: https://forms.laplata.co.us/Forms/BusinessCert

Taking Archuleta County businesses and worksites are welcome to utilize SJBPH’s self-certification tool as a way to demonstrate to their employees and customers their commitment to providing safe and healthy workplaces. 

SJBPH thanks La Plata County for their help in the development of this tool and their continued partnership in the emergency response to COVID-19.

SJBPH appreciates the efforts of local businesses and worksites to ensure a safe re-opening for the protection of both employees and customers in La Plata County, and to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases locally as re-opening occurs.

*For the most up to date information on how to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community.

 

April 28, 2020

Safer La Plata: San Juan Basin Public Health Issues Public Health Order to Control the Spread of COVID-19 in La Plata County

New Order Implements Phased Approach to Re-Opening 

Durango, Colo.: San Juan Basin Public Health’s (SJBPH) today announced the order “Safer La Plata,” a phased approach that will delay the re-opening of some non-essential local businesses and workplaces to May 8th, because of continued increases of COVID-19 in parts of our region. The new SJBPH Order instructs businesses and workplaces to follow safety protocols and requirements to protect employees, customers and the community from the spread of COVID-19. The order is effective as of Wednesday, April 29th, 2020.

“San Juan Basin Public Health’s highest priority is to protect the health and safety of the people we serve.”, said SJBPH’s Executive Director Liane Jollon. “This order will help to protect La Plata County residents from COVID-19 as the agency continues to work aggressively with the community to mitigate the spread of the virus and to begin re-opening our economy.”, Jollon said. 

The SJBPH ‘Safer La Plata’ public health order will allow additional sectors to reopen with strict precautions beginning May 8th. These businesses include personal services such as salons, tattoo parlors, dog groomers, massage, and personal training. In-store retail and non-essential offices may also open at this time with strict social distancing and other precautions. Businesses and workplaces will be required to self-certify that they understand and can carry out strict precautions in order to re-open.

“We understand that the ‘Stay at Home’ order was difficult economically, physically and mentally for all of us.”, said Director Jollon. “We all want to return to normal, and to do so successfully, we must take intermediate steps to protect our community. If restrictions are loosened too quickly, or businesses and workplaces do not have enough time to prepare, we could find ourselves with a surge in cases that would set us back,” Jollon said. 

On April 27th, specific businesses and services outlined in the Governor’s Safer-at-Home Executive Order  re-opened as curbside and delivery retail, real estate showings, and much-needed medical and dental procedures. 

As Jack Llewellyn, Executive Director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce said, “the Durango Chamber of Commerce would love to see our members and businesses open, however, we have one opportunity to get this right.  Opening up and returning to business unusual is the new normal and we all need to understand there is a reason for the opening directives and procedures. I compare this to a faucet slowly being turned on and not opening a flood gate.  Be patient, Durango and we will get through this.”, Llewellyn said.

Roger Zalneraitis, Economic Development Manager at the Southern Ute Indian Tribe commented, “We appreciate San Juan Basin Public Health’s reasoned decision-making on the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Southern Ute Indian Tribe announced a continuation of their own stay-at-home order last week.  San Juan Basin Public Health’s announcement of a delayed reopening more closely aligns with the Tribe’s own approach to handling COVID-19, which we appreciate.”, Zalneraitis said.

Durango Mayor Dean Brookie added “the city understands the unique situation we are in and appreciates this carefully phased approach which is supported by our county, all three municipalities and our Southern Ute Indian Tribe neighbors. By implementing ‘Safer at Home’ carefully with intention, the more likely we can get more businesses and services open and start our new normal.”. Mayor Brookie said.

The decision to issue the order was based on established public health criteria to safeguard our community as ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions are loosened. These criteria are:

  • A sustained decrease in new COVID-19 case reports across our region
  • Testing can be performed quickly for all people who meet current criteria for testing 
  • Proper capacity for quarantine, isolation, and monitoring of all COVID-19 cases and their contacts in our jurisdiction 
  • Hospitals are safely able to treat patients
  • Clear safeguards are in place for businesses to open with appropriate social distancing and infection control procedures 

“While La Plata County has demonstrated a downward trend in new cases, we still see substantial increases in cases just to our south in San Juan County, New Mexico.”, said Director Jollon. “Our residents travel frequently for work and essential goods and services to New Mexico. The virus doesn’t know boundaries, so it is critical that our local businesses and workplaces are both well-informed and capable of practicing good infection control as we take small steps to re-open,” said Jollon.

It is important that the community move forward slowly in order to not undo the hard-fought progress made to “flatten the curve” and prevent our local hospitals from being overwhelmed. “As we prepare to move into the next phase of the pandemic, it will be critical that we continue supporting the most vulnerable people within our community,” stated Mike Murphy, interim CEO of Centura-Mercy Regional Medical Center. “By continuing our collective practices of social distancing and persistent hand washing, as well as resisting the temptation to participate in large gatherings, we will bring more normalcy into our lives while continuing to combat this virus.”, Murphy said.

SJBPH appreciates the efforts of all community members working hard to successfully socially distance and we look forward to continued support of SJBPH’s ‘Safer La Plata’ order.

The ‘Safer La Plata’ order will be in effect until May 8, 2020 unless extended, amended, or rescinded by San Juan Basin Public Health. 

For the most up to date information on how to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community.

 

April 27, 2020

Colorado & Nevada Join California, Oregon & Washington in Western States Pact

Western States Governors: Health outcomes and science – not politics – will guide decisions to modify stay at home orders

DENVER – Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak today announced their respective states are joining California, Oregon and Washington in the Western States Pact -- a working group of Western state governors with a shared vision for modifying stay at home and fighting COVID-19.

“Coloradans are working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and have important information to share with and to gain from other states.  I’m thrilled Colorado is joining the Western States Pact,” said Governor Polis.“There’s no silver bullet that will solve this pandemic until there is a cure so we must have a multifaceted and bold approach in order to slow the spread of the virus, to keep our people safe and help our economy rebound.”

“I’m honored to havethe State of Nevadajointhe Western States Pact and believe the sharing of critical information and best practiceson how to mitigate the spread, protect the health and safety of our residents,and reopenresponsiblywill be invaluableas we chart our pathsforward, said Gov. Steve Sisolak. “Millions of visitors from our fellow Western statestravel toNevada every year as a premier tourismdestination, and thispartnershipwillbe vital to our immediate recovery and long-term economic comeback. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently announced they would be working together under a shared vision for gradually modifying their state’s stay at home orders and fighting COVID-19. They listed three shared principles as foundational to the agreement:

  • Our residents’ health comes first. As home to nearly one in five Americans and gateway to the rest of the world, the West Coast has an outsized stake in controlling and ultimately defeating COVID-19.

·  Health outcomes and science – not politics – will guide these decisions. Modifications to our states’ stay at home orders must be made based off our understanding of the total health impacts of COVID-19, including: the direct impact of the disease on our communities; the health impact of measures introduced to control the spread in communities —particularly felt by those already experiencing social disadvantage prior to COVID-19; and our health care systems’ ability to ensure care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This effort will be guided by data. We need to see a decline in the rate of spread of the virus before large-scale reopening, and we will be working in coordination to identify the best metrics to guide this.

·  Our states will only be effective by working together. Each state will work with its local leaders and communities within its borders to understand what’s happening on the ground and adhere to our agreed upon approach.

As part of the Western States Pact, the Governors commit to working together toward the following four goals: 

·        Protecting vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if infected. This includes a concerted effort to prevent and fight outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

·        Ensuring an ability to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This will require adequate hospital surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment.

·        Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.

·        Protecting the general public by ensuring any successful lifting of interventions includes the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating. The states will work together to share best practices.

April 23, 2020

Southern Ute Indian Tribe Continues Safety Measures and Reaffirms ‘Stay at Home’ Order

Southern Ute Indian Reservation – On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council issued a “Stay at Home Order”. To slow and/or stop the spread of COVID-19, it is crucial the Tribe continues to adhere to the order requiring tribal members to stay home unless it is for essential activities. The continuation of the order is based on Tribal Council’s continuous assessment of the rapidly-changing and serious public health emergency.

The Southern Ute leadership is very aware that over the last few days the State of Colorado has announced a relaxation of some social distancing standards under the banner of a “Safer at Home” program. Having reviewed the basis of the State’s decision, and more importantly, considered the special needs concerns and vulnerabilities of the Southern Ute people, it has been determined that any relaxation of social distancing standards or practices is premature. It is our belief that this premature relaxation of standards poses a threat to the Tribe that is unwarranted given local circumstances and the near total lack of evidence regarding the degree to which the disease has entered this community. In exercise of its sovereignty, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe has chosen to maintain all current social distancing orders, particularly, the Stay at Home order of March 25, 2020 until further notice.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Permanent Fund, Growth Fund, Shared Services and the Sky Ute Casino and Resort, will continue to telework and modify programs and services to ensure the protection and safety of tribal members, tribal employees, and our community. Identified operations have been modified in accordance with the recommendations made by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which includes guidelines for social distancing and restrictions on congregated groups no larger than 5 people, and at least 6 feet apart. Social distancing guidelines also include limitations for person-to-person contact, group meetings, and other social activities.

The non-essential functions have been identified and a comprehensive list of modified services and hours of operations continue to be updated through the established Southern Ute COVID-19 Call Center, KSUT Tribal Radio, Southern Ute DRUM E-Edition, social media, and tribal websites.

As initially recommended by the CDC, the tribe recommends the use of face coverings when leaving your home for essential activities such as trips to the grocery store, visits to the doctor’s office or work as an essential employee. The coronavirus is spread by droplets in the air and individual contraction of COVID-19 by direct contact with someone who has tested positive or may have been exposed to the virus.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council has also directed the Southern Ute Incident Management Team (IMT) to distribute face masks to Southern Ute Tribal Elders and the disabled/at-risk population of tribal members who reside on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, the Southern Ute Community Health Representatives staff, caregivers (Visiting Angels and Comfort Keepers), and the Southern Ute Elders Services began distributing face masks to Southern Ute tribal elders and high risk elders who reside on the reservation. Please contact the Southern Ute Tribal Health CHR Division at (970) 563-0154 or (970) 563-2348 or the Southern Ute Elders Services Division at (970) 563-2323. The remaining masks will be held in reserve to ensure adequate supplies remain on hand for health care professionals and first responders if the situation deteriorates and Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) is required. 

Tribal parks remain closed to gatherings of more than 5 people, but exercising is still encouraged while practicing social distancing.

We would like to applaud the Southern Ute Indian tribal membership for adhering to the Stay at Home Order, promoting social distancing, unity within our tribal community, supporting one another, sharing information and taking opportunities to create solutions that benefit the safety and wellness of the Southern Ute people and community. As this health pandemic continues to evolve, we will continue to provide information in a timely and consistent manner.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council urges all tribal members to listen for radio announcements, continue to check the Tribe’s official social media and website or call the COVID-19 Call Center. The Tribe will continue to make every effort to keep the membership informed.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s COVID-19 Call Center will remain live through the duration of the modified government services being provided. In addition to fielding calls, the call center will be making proactive calls to all Southern Ute tribal members who have current addresses and phone numbers on file at TIS, Finance, Southern Ute Education and the Southern Ute Health Center. For enrolled Southern Ute tribal members who have not received communication from a tribal department, they are encouraged to contact the Southern Ute COVID-19 Call Center at (970) 563-0214, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. to establish a communication stream going forward. The Tribe would like to account for each tribal member’s safety and wellness through this pandemic. Beginning Monday, May 4, 2020, the Southern Ute COVID-19 Call Center will operate Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

As stated previously, if you are a tribal member and are concerned about your health or any symptoms you may be experiencing, please contact your primary care provider or call the Southern Ute Health Center at (970) 563-4581 to speak with a health care professional.

State continues to enhance COVID-19 data-- Additional death certificate data will affect Colorado mortality count this week

DENVER, April 22, 2020: Starting this week, visitors to the state health department’s COVID-19 web site will notice new data points and additional deaths that had previously not appeared in the state’s mortality count. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will now provide COVID-19 death data by date of death. Previously, the department reported deaths based on the day it received the information. The state does not always receive death data on the day a person dies.

The state obtains death data from a variety of sources. Health care providers, coroners, and local public health all report directly to the state’s epidemiology and surveillance team. The state also receives data through death certificate information. After a death, the state generally receives death certificate information within three days. 

Starting this week, CDPHE epidemiologists began to review the cause of death information on death certificates and began to enter COVID-19 caused deaths into the state’s database if those deaths had not previously been reported to the state. Due to the lag in time between when a person dies and when the state receives the death certificate information, there could continue to be a short delay in getting and reporting some of the data to the public.

This data entry will include adding “probable” COVID-19 deaths. A death is classified as  “probable” if the decedent was a Colorado resident who had no known positive laboratory test for COVID-19 but the death certificate lists as a cause of death “COVID-19” or an equivalent. Because of this review and data entry of death certificates by epidemiologists, we anticipate an increase in the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Colorado by about 130 this week. This is not because those individuals died this week, but because their deaths have now been recorded in the state system.  

In addition, the state has been collaborating with the Colorado Hospital Association to share data that helps provide a picture of the level of demand that the pandemic disease is placing on hospitals across the state.  Starting today, the state’s hospital data dashboard will display information on current ventilator usage and availability across all Colorado hospitals, as well as the number ofhospitalized patients who are suspected  -- but not confirmed -- of having COVID (known as “patients under investigation”). This information is requested from Colorado hospitals on a daily basis and shared by the state with permission from the Colorado Hospital Association; any questions about the data should be directed to the Colorado Hospital Association.

The department also issued a public health order to provide guidance to hospitals regarding what information to provide to the state.  

Additional changes to data in the next few days include:

  • An increase in the number of cases identified due to widespread targeted testing in specific communities or facilities.
  • A decrease in the case counts at the county level due to the removal of out-of-state cases from Colorado’s data. In the early stages it was important to include these cases, as it was an indication of the transmission in a particular community. As more widespread transmission has occurred, this information is no longer needed. Removing out-of-state cases also ensures cases are not counted twice (e.g. in both states). In addition, international cases will be moved to a separate category, but still included in Colorado case counts.
  • Additional changes in case counts will occur due to the general updating of data. This includes entering positive cases not previously reported from out-of-state labs, and additional reporting of cases related to outbreaks.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

 

Colorado Farmers’ Markets Are Ready to Serve

Broomfield, Colo. - Along with greening grass and warming temperatures, spring also signals the start of farmers’ markets across Colorado. Farmers’ markets are considered essential businesses by the state and will open to serve Coloradans looking to purchase food and agricultural products.

“Farmers markets are a fundamental part of Colorado’s food supply chain, which becomes more apparent in a year like this,” said Kate Greenberg, Commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “Markets offer a great option for consumers to purchase the food they need for their families while supporting Colorado farmers and ranchers.” 

There are more than 100 farmers’ markets across Colorado, with many opening in May and most operational by June. A list of markets across the state, along with a map of locations is available at coloradoproud.org.

According to the Colorado Farmers Market Association (CFMA), visitors should check market websites and social media pages to find any changes in operations. Customers can expect many markets to continue operating, with new guidelines in place for social distancing. Some markets are implementing online ordering platforms to allow for ordering ahead and curbside pickup. CFMA is coordinating with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment and local public health agencies to ensure priority is placed on public health for all Colorado farmers’ markets.

“You'll find that your market manager is asking you to come in, buy your food, and leave, which is different from what we might be used to with farmers markets as a social gathering place,” said Rosalind May, CFMA Executive Director.

CFMA and the Colorado Department of Agriculture encourage community members to follow the guidelines set by the farmers’ market:  keep your distance from others, let vendors bag products for you rather than touching any products, and stay for only the time needed to buy your food.

For more information, visit coloradoproud.org or contact Loretta Lopez at 303-869-9175 or Loretta.Lopez@state.co.us.

 

State releases public health order requiring critical business employees to wear masks 

 

DENVER (April 23, 2020): The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released a new public health order ordering workers in critical businesses and critical government functions to wear non-medical masks and gloves while at work to protect the health and welfare of the public.

Public Health Order 20 26 requires that workers in these businesses who have close contact (within six feet) with other employees or the public wear cloth masks while working. It also orders these workers to wear gloves if they are in close contact with customers. The public health order encourages employers to provide masks and gloves for their employees. 

The critical businesses impacted by this public health order include banks, child care facilities, pharmacies, and grocery stores. They are defined in Public Health Order 20 24 and listed on the COVID-19 website atcovid19.colorado.gov/stay-home-except-essential-needs

The main reason to wear a non-medical mask is to protect others. Data show that some people may spread COVID-19 when they do not have symptoms. People may spread the disease when speaking, coughing or sneezing -- especially in situations where a physical distance of six feet cannot be maintained.

Colorado is asking everyone to wear a non-medical cloth face covering while out in public. You can make or buy a covering that will cover your mouth and nose and use it whenever you are outside your house and yard. 

This public health order will remain in place until May 17 unless it’s extended, amended, or rescinded.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

Bennet, Gillibrand Announce ‘Health Force’ To Mobilize Americans Against Coronavirus Pandemic

The ‘Health Force’ Would Provide Training and Employment to Job-Seeking Americans

Denver — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced legislation to create the Health Force, which would recruit, train, and employ hundreds of thousands of Americans to expand our public health workforce for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) response and strengthen our capacity to meet America’s longer-term public health needs. As the United States battles COVID-19 and begins plans to reopen the economy, Bennet, Gillibrand, and a group of their Senate colleagues announced one of the most ambitious and expansive public health campaigns in the nation’s history. The Health Force would provide jobs for thousands of recently unemployed Americans and directly support the nation’s efforts to recover from the current crisis. 

“This crisis is the greatest challenge our country has faced since World War II. And we can – and must – rise to the challenge with a broad and bold proposal to combat the virus and put our economy back to work at the same time,” said Bennet. “Just as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration mobilized millions of Americans during one of the most trying times in our nation’s history, our new Health Force will help bolster the COVID-19 response and put Americans back to work serving their communities and their country. We need ideas as big as the challenge we face, and the Health Force meets that test.”

“In the face of this unprecedented crisis, Congress must harness American patriotism, resilience, and ingenuity by establishing a Health Force to combat this deadly virus,” said Gillibrand. “The new Health Force will put thousands of Americans back to work, creating a valuable workforce to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and meet existing and emerging public health needs. I’m proud to announce this legislation as part of the National Public Service Package, a vital, innovative approach to respond to this crisis.”

The Health Force is inspired by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps, which similarly tapped the unemployed to help the nation recover from a sharp economic downturn. The Health Force would create a federally-supported and locally-managed program to train and deploy essential public and community health frontline workers, who could conduct testing, contact tracing, or eventual vaccine administration. These positions would complement America’s highly trained and skilled medical professionals already fighting on the front lines. The workforce would be trained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and managed by state and local public health agencies across the country.

The Health Force would be responsible for:

  • Conducting contact tracing;
  • Administering COVID-19 tests, including antibody tests;
  • Providing COVID-19 vaccinations (when available);
  • Sharing COVID-19 public health messages with community members, including debunking myths and misperceptions;
  • Providing data entry in support of epidemiological surveillance and to meet broader health information system requirements;
  • Providing community-based and home-based services, including food and medical supply delivery to elderly and immunocompromised individuals;
  • Providing palliative and hospice care;
  • Providing other public health-related services, as needed.

In Colorado, public health and human services are decentralized, placing a greater burden at the local level to create financial resources and trained health care workers. The Health Force would directly support the work of local agencies by giving young people the opportunity to fill the specific jobs different counties need while earning an income and building new skills. Colorado’s local health departments would benefit from a surge of support for services like contact tracing and infection control to food delivery for seniors and child care support.

After the current public health crisis concludes, the Health Force would provide grant funding and technical assistance to state and local health departments to hire and retain members to serve as health extension workers (HEWs) among vulnerable populations, in underserved areas and in future public health emergencies. These activities could include sharing public health messages with community members, providing home-based check-ins for seniors and new mothers and infants, providing vaccination schedule reminders for parents of children, connecting community members with health-related services (e.g. SNAP), and more.

The Health Force will be a new component of the CDC Public Health Emergency Preparation (PHEP) which include 65 jurisdictions across all 50 states, territories, and tribal lands. The CDC will develop and implement Health Force training packages, while state, local, territorial, and tribal funding recipients will hire, supervise, and retain Force members using new grant or cooperative agreement funding provided through PHEP and/or Public Health Crisis Response (PHCR). States, localities, territories, and tribal entity funding recipients will actively recruit and manage Force members. Recruitment will reach out to low-income, minority, and historically marginalized populations.

This legislation also includes the Resiliency Force, a proposal led by U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), that mobilizes individuals at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the fight against the coronavirus by providing funding needed to hire and train 62,000 additional FEMA Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery Employees (CORE) to perform public health and related functions as well as respond to natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. Along with the CDC, FEMA is a key part of the whole-of-government effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and responsibly reopen the country in phases. However, FEMA’s workforce of approximately 14,000 must be significantly expanded to address the growing national needs of testing, and managing emergency supply chain logistics for states and communities in need.

This is the second of three proposals under development by a working group of Senate Democrats to address the urgent need to expand the public health and response workforce during and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier today, a Senate Democratic working group led by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) released the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Actwhich would fund 750,000 national service positions over a three-year response and recovery period.

 

April 22, 2020

Gov. Polis Provides Update to Coloradans on State Response to COVID-19

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on how the state is responding to COVID-19 and provided further clarification on what the Safer-at-Home phase of the pandemic will look like for Coloradans. 

“I want to reiterate, the Safer-at-Home phase is not going back to life as normal. It’s not a major adjustment from where we have been,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Safer-at-Home means most Coloradans should continue to limit social interactions to the greatest extent possible to just individuals in your household and wear facial masks when you are out. I’m proud of how Colorado has come together during this difficult period to stay home as much as possible, protecting ourselves and our neighbors. But we still have work to do - we are not through the woods yet.”

The goal of the Safer-at-Home phase is to maintain 60-65% physical distancing. This means:

  • Vulnerable populations and older adults must stay home unless absolutely necessary. 
  • No group gatherings of more than 10 people. 
  • Critical businesses will remain open with strict precautions (social distancing, masks for all employees, more frequent cleanings, etc.) 
  • Retail businesses may open for curbside delivery and phased-in public opening with strict precautions.
  • Nightclubs, gyms and spas will remain closed.  
  • Elective medical and dental procedures begin, with strict precautions to ensure adequate personal protective equipment and the ability to meet critical care needs. 
  • Personal services (salons, tattoo parlors, dog grooming, personal training, etc.) will open with strict precautions.  
  • K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions will continue to suspend normal in-person instruction for the 2019-2020 school year.  
  • Telecommuting continues or offices. Starting on May 4, up to 50% of staff can work in person (with social distancing in place).
  • The state is not changing requirements for nursing homes and other senior care facilities. There will continue to be restrictions on visiting residents.

The Safer-at-Home phase is not: 

  • A free-for-all  
  • An opportunity to leave the house as much as possible and spread the virus to others
  • An excuse to not wear a facial covering, or begin giving hugs or handshakes 
  • Going to the mountains to spend the weekend   
  • Conducting unnecessary travel
  • Having parties or get togethers
  • Playing in pick up sports games 

In the coming days, further guidance will be provided to a variety of affected industries including retail, offices, elective medical and dental services, child care, education, personal services, and real estate.  

The Governor also provided guidance and best practices for non-critical workplaces, including their employees and customers. Non-critical workplaces should be operating at no more than 50% in-person capacity and should allow employees to telework whenever possible. For more details on best practices, view the Governor’s presentation

Under the Safer-at-Home phase, local governments will have a variety of options when it comes to slowing the spread of the virus and protecting their communities. 

  • Local governments can implement the guidelines of Safer-at-Home to match the state.
  • Local governments can go farther than the state, including but not limited to stay-at-home orders or additional protective measures. 
  • Local governments can relax guidelines more than the state. To do so, local governments will need to demonstrate proof of 14 consecutive days of decline of infection of COVID-19 in the county. They also must submit an application to CDPHE that includes a written COVID-19 suppression plan approved by the appropriate local public health authority, all hospitals within the jurisdiction and elected leadership.

Gov. Polis signed Executive Order D 2020 041 today extending the suspension of normal in-person instruction at all public and private elementary and secondary schools in the State until the end of the 2019-2020 school year. This order does not affect plans for the 2020-2021 school year. 

To learn more about the Safer-at-Home phase of the pandemic and a tentative timeline, view the Governor’s presentation here and a one-pager here. To view the Governor’s news conference, clickhere

Pre-guidance for Businesses on ‘Safer from Home’ 

SJBPH is waiting on the detailed guidance to go along with the governor’s ‘Safer at Home’ plan and cannot currently provide information on what restrictions might be lifted or on how specific businesses will be affected. Guidance on ‘safer at home’ is expected before 4/27/20.

• Businesses cannot reopen prior to upcoming guidance and the lifting of the ‘stay at home’ order on 4/27/20.

• Good public health practice is still imperative and the ‘Safer at Home’ framework
assumes compliance from businesses, public health interventions from LPHAs, and
cooperation of local governments on messaging and enforcement.

  • The face covering order issued on 4/17/20 remains in place and is a key strategy in reducing the spread of covid-19. SJBPH urges businesses to comply with this order.
  •  ‘Stay at home’ is still stringently urged by both the governor and public health.
  • Other precautions such as social distancing of 6 feet and frequent and thorough
    hand washing are still critical in helping reduce spread of covid-
  • Workplace best practice policies should include sick leave and symptom
    checking.
  • Employees should continue to work from home if they are able.


• SJBPH has the ability to issue a local Stay-at-Home order to extend the current
restrictions if deemed necessary. Different jurisdictions are at different places in the “curve” of the disease and may need restrictions to lift at different times.

• If case counts and hospitalizations rise after restrictions are eased, restrictions will be reinstated and may include business closures and other restrictions on interactions. The success of how well individuals and businesses comply with continued social distancing and staying at home strategies will determine whether or not this will be needed.

April 21, 2020

State releases latest COVID-19 modeling information

DENVER (April 20, 2020): The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) received additional modeling information from an expert group of public health scientists today.

The Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) assembled the expert group, which includes modeling scientists at ColoradoSPH and the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, as well as experts from the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver,  and Colorado State University. 

Key staff from CDPHE and the ColoradoSPH conducted webinars on the model’s results today. 

The latest Colorado model report is now available to the public, as are the presentation slides from the webinar.

The report provides an estimate of the degree of distancing that Coloradans have achieved so far. It also provides projections based on various policy scenarios for April 27 forward around physical distancing, mask wearing, and improved case detection and containment. The models are based on Colorado data and assumptions.

The state will continue to review data and model findings as the pandemic continues to inform future policy decisions. 

*Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

 

Gov. Polis Provides Update to Coloradans on State Response to COVID-19 

DENVER - Today Governor Jared Polis discussed modeling data that shows how Coloradans are doing their part during the stay-at-home order and what next steps will look like as health and safety restrictions change in the coming days and weeks. 

“Coloradans in every corner of our state have stepped up and taken responsible steps to help bend the curve of this pandemic and we are grateful for these shared efforts that helped save lives and slow the spread. The deadly virus will continue to be with us, and we must wear masks and socialize less to avoid its rapid growth. For seniors and those with pre-existing conditions, it’s important to stay home whenever possible through May. Though we are moving into a sustainable way of living during this pandemic, there are tough days ahead,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This is a marathon - not a sprint, which was the easy part - now we need to pace ourselves and these distancing measures need to be sustainable. We’re going to have to learn to live with coronavirus for a while, but we must live not with anxiety or fear, but with extreme caution, especially if you are a member of a vulnerable population. I am thrilled that we are on the path to a sustainable way of living more safely, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t the potential that we have to return to a more cautious approach if the state sees a spike in new cases.” 

The Governor discussed new modeling showing the state will not need to extend the Stay-at-Home order that is set to expire at the end of the week, but will need to continue a variety of long-term social distancing measures. The modeling shows that the Stay-at-Home order has reduced social interactions by 75-80% since it went into effect. Currently, Colorado has 10,000 reported cases, however, the state believes the real number is closer to 65,000-75,000 Coloradans -- about 1.1%-1.3% of the population.

There are three levels of social distancing, which include: Staying at Home, Safer at Home, and Protect our Neighbors. On April 27, the state will be moving onto the Safer at Home phase. During this phase Coloradans will no longer be ordered to stay home, but are still strongly encouraged to do so. Vulnerable populations and seniors must continue staying home except when absolutely necessary and K-12 school districts and postsecondary institutions will continue to suspend normal in-person instruction until the end of the school year.   

It’s important to note that there may be a fluctuation between the levels to recover from outbreaks, meaning that Colorado could return to the Stay-at-Home phase if there is a significant increase in cases or spread of the virus. 

Local governments will have the opportunity to implement stricter restrictions, particularly those who may be experiencing an outbreak.  

*For more details on what the Safer at Home phase of the pandemic looks like, please view the Governor’s presentation here 

The latest Colorado model report is now available to the public. 

Watch the Governor’s news conference here. To stay up to date, visit COVID19.Colorado.gov

April 20, 2020

Gov. Polis Takes Additional Action in Response to COVID-19

DENVER - Gov.  Polis took additional action today in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and signed a new Executive Order. 

Executive Order D 2020 040 amends and extends Executive Order D 2020 010 which suspended statute to extend the income tax payment deadlines for all Colorado taxpayers to quickly provide relief from payment and penalties.  Since signing Executive Order D 2020 010, the IRS has issued an extension for filers with income tax returns due between April 15, 2020 and July 15, 2020, and has moved those deadlines to July 15, 2020.  The Executive Order signed today extends Executive Order D 2020 010 for another thirty (30) days and aligns with the IRS extension.

 

State health department launches pilot version of symptom tracker survey as part of statewide COVID-19 tracking

DENVER: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has launched a short survey designed to track symptoms of COVID-19, even if the person experiencing symptoms is unable or does not need to get a test. Although the data collected using this survey cannot replace official case data confirmed by testing, it may help public health officials track early warning signs that an outbreak could be imminent in a given area or region. 

The symptom tracker will appear on the “do you have symptoms?” webpage on the COVID-19 website. Data from the tracker will provide local public health agencies with data for their coverage area. This could help public health officials understand when outbreaks are occurring in given locations and, in some cases, follow up with certain individuals who may need additional support. Knowing about potential outbreaks more immediately can help inform decisions to take action at the local level. 

Several local public health agencies had previously created their own symptom trackers over the last month. The results from their surveys will also be included in the aggregate data reports that CDPHE will eventually release publicly. 

“If Coloradans are feeling symptoms related to COVID-19, such as a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath, they can serve the public health response by isolating themselves and voluntarily reporting those symptoms using the symptom tracker,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of CDPHE.

Future versions of the symptom tracker will route people with COVID-19 symptoms to the appropriate resources for them. People who report their symptoms will be able to opt in to receive automated help managing their symptoms via text message. The system will route them to various resources, from telemedicine to behavioral health support.

This survey will collect personal health information, which the department will safeguard, protect, and report only in aggregate. More information about how data will be collected, shared and protected is available on our FAQ page

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

 

myColoradoTM Connects Residents to COVID-19 Resources and State Benefits from Home 

DENVER — The State of Colorado announced additional enhancements to the myColoradoTM mobile app to help Coloradans stay current on COVID-19 information and access food, cash, medical, and early childhood assistance on the Colorado PEAK® website. Other new features include the ability to display vehicle registrations in the app and chat with myColorado support staff. Download myColorado from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

“The pandemic has brought uncertainty and changes to Coloradans and their families,” said OIT Chief Information Officer and Executive Director Theresa Szczurek, Ph.D. “All Coloradans can view COVID-19 information in one place and residents who are facing hardship can use the myColorado mobile app to access benefits on Colorado PEAK.”

A new menu of COVID-19 helpful links to state and national resources is now available on the myColorado home screen, and can be accessed without logging in or creating an account. Among the many COVID-19 resources in the latest release are access to the School Free Lunch Sites Map, United Way 2-1-1,Do You Have Symptoms?, Colorado Mask Project, and Help Colorado Now. Coloradans can also sign up to receive helpful COVID-19 text and email alerts within the myColorado app.  

On October 30, 2019, Governor Polis announced the Colorado Digital IDTM, which is available to all Coloradans with a current driver license or state ID. Now vehicle owners can set up and access vehicle registration receipts in the app Wallet, along with their Digital ID. The state will continue to add services and features to enhance Colorado’s digital government experience and send helpful push notifications with important COVID-19 information. 

Lastly, the new myColorado chat function makes it easy for Coloradans to get real-time support for any app-related questions such as how to set up an account. The myColorado support team is available to chat Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST.  

Residents are encouraged to download myColorado via the Apple App Store or Google Play and take advantage of the state’s many online services from the comfort of their home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

April 16, 2020

Gardner Applauds $4 Million in FEMA Grants for Colorado

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) applauded the announcement that the state of Colorado will receive a total of $4,050,000 in federal funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for eligible emergency protective measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to FEMA, examples of eligible emergency protective measures include the activation of State Emergency Operations Centers, National Guard costs, law enforcement, and other measures necessary to protect public health and safety. 

“Communities across all four corners of Colorado are suffering right now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and need immediate relief,” said Senator Gardner. “It is important to provide the necessary resources for the country to respond to COVID-19, and I’m pleased that FEMA is awarding this much-needed funding to Colorado. I’ll continue to work with public health officials and leaders at every level to ensure our state can get through this crisis together.”

This funding is in addition to the nearly $17 million provided to Colorado by FEMA last week. This funding is authorized under the Robert T. Stafford Act and comes as a result of the President approving the state of Colorado’s Disaster Declaration, which Gardner and members of the Colorado delegation urged 

You can read more about Senator Gardner’s actions to protect Coloradans from COVID-19 here.

 

State and Colorado Hospital Association release data illustrating recovery rate and COVID-19-related demand on health care system

DENVER, April 16, 2020: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) are partnering to release enhanced COVID-19 related data, including current hospitalizations, daily discharge of patients who no longer need hospitalization, and number of facilities anticipating potential resource shortages due to COVID-19. 

Together, the data help provide a picture of the level of demand that the pandemic disease is placing on hospitals across the state. The discharge data provides a general estimate of the number of patients who have recovered from the most severe symptoms of COVID-19. 

The data can be found at covid19.colorado.gov/hospital-data and includes information that hospitals report daily to the state of Colorado Unified Command Group (UCG) :

  • Number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized (this differs from the CDPHE dashboard, which shows cumulative number of people who have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 to date). 
  • Total number of facilities anticipating shortages in the next week for each of the key indicators of staff, personal protective equipment (PPE), and ICU beds.
  • Number of patients discharged from hospitals due to improvement in their symptoms.

“CHA and its member hospitals and health systems thank CDPHE for its partnership in gathering and sharing this transparent information about the health system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important that everyone who is working hard to help manage COVID-19 can better understand the impacts to the health care system,” said Julie Lonborg, Senior Vice President of the CHA. “We also want Coloradans to know that their dedication to following the stay-at-home order and social distancing is helping. As hospitals have worked to ‘raise the bar’ by increasing capacity so we can care for more patients, Coloradans have helped to ‘flatten the curve’ so that a surge of patients won’t overwhelm our system’s capacity. It takes all of us, working together, to protect Colorado.” 

Because the data is collected and maintained by individual hospitals within the state, questions related to the data should be directed to the Colorado Hospital Association.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

April 15, 2020

Gov. Polis Presents Key Indicators That Will be Considered in Modifying Colorado’s Social Distancing Guidance 

DENVER – Governor Jared Polis announced the key indicators that are guiding Colorado’s process for ongoing updates to policies, guidance, and requirements on statewide social distancing measures. These will be used to get the state through COVID-19 pandemic while minimizing loss of life and further economic disruption.

“Coloradans have done an amazing job of staying at home. Staying at home whenever possible is likely to remain one of the most important, if not the most important tool we have to flatten the curve and save lives. But we also know that we are in this for the long haul. It is likely to be many months until there is a vaccine or herd immunity, and we need a way of life that is sustainable psychologically and economically while meeting the health goals spelled out today,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “As we reopen our state, we know that things will work differently than they did before, and we must enshrine social distancing in the way we live, work, and play in a sustainable way for a matter of months. The science and data will provide the information we need to adapt our policies to build upon what works and change what isn’t working.”

 

The Governor thanked Coloradans for working together to help flatten the curve and save lives. The Governor also noted that expanding capacity for health care beds is on track. Gov. Polis is focused on sustainability and ensuring that Coloradans are able to safely earn a living without the risk of running out of hospital beds after the expiration of the stay-at-home order.

 

Current steps to stop the spread of COVID-19, including the temporary closure of bars and restaurants in Colorado communities, the state’s stay-at-home order, and the cultural adaptation of mask-wearing, have yielded positive results in slowing the spread of COVID-19. But these swift measures have also taken a toll on the state and local economies and threatened the state’s health care system and most vulnerable populations.

 

Until Colorado builds immunity - through a vaccine or herd immunity - or until scientists are able to deliver a truly effective clinical treatment, the state will need to:

  • Implement social distancing measures in an economically and psychologically sustainable manner 
  • Ensure the capacity to care for those who are ill (COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related illnesses) without sacrificing the quality of care
  • Increase efforts to prevent infection in vulnerable Coloradans 

 

The Governor outlined three stages for the state’s response to COVID-19: urgent, stabilization, and recovery. Colorado is currently in the urgent phase and the Governor discussed how Colorado will get to stabilization and recovery. 

 

 

 

 

The state of Colorado continues working toward a return to a sustainable way of life that protects public health and the economy. Key elements of that strategy include:

 

  • Increasing the capability to protect Coloradans and communities through forms of testing and support for those who test positive or have been exposed. 
    • Increased testing 
    • Testing must be coupled with robust containment efforts locally, regionally, and statewide. 
    • Robust containment includes: Expanded contact tracing capacity; Increased epidemiology staff; Expanded isolation support services.
  • Reducing the spread to vulnerable Coloradans who are at risk.
    • Taking additional steps to protect nursing homes, senior care facilities. 
    • Action plan for responding to outbreaks as they occur 
  • Hospitals and health systems managing increased demand.
    • Hospitals have internally increased beds
    • New beds through additional alternative care sites:
      • Ranch, Larimer County Fairgrounds and Events Complex
      • Colorado Convention Center in Denver
      • St. Anthony North in Westminster
      • St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo
      • Western Slope Memory Care in Grand Junction 
  • Businesses maintaining physical and social distancing. 
    • Non-critical businesses will need to engage in similar social distancing measures, which will be enforced, as the critical businesses are during this period of time including but not limited to wearing masks, physical distancing, staggering shifts, and allowing telecommuting to the extent practicable

 

These key indicators will inform ongoing monitoring and potential modifications of social distancing measures, like reinstating stay-at-home orders at the community level, regionally or statewide if necessary. 

 

Within the next five days, the state expects the data and the science to determine what level of suppression the stay-at-home order has achieved. Also within the next five days, the state expects to have the data and science to determine what level of ongoing social distancing Coloradans need to strive for to effectively manage the future spread of COVID-19. 

 

Moving forward, the state will be reporting facility-level data on a weekly basis. This information will include the name and type of the facility, date the outbreak occurred, and total cases reported there. Data will cover health care, correctional and other settings. This can include long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, state prisons, county and city jails, factories, schools, child care centers, and more. There are currently 231 nursing facilities, 706 assisted living facilities and 21 intermediate care facilities in Colorado. In addition, the Colorado Hospital Association has announced that hospitals will now be releasing information about discharges. 

 

To view the Governor’s presentation click here

 

To volunteer visit HelpColoradoNow.org

To stay up to date, visit COVID19.Colorado.gov

 

April 14, 2020

Bennet, Colleagues Announce Plans for New Legislation to Create National Coronavirus Commission of Independent Experts to Determine How and When the Country Can Safely Reopen 

Panel of Independent Experts in Public Health, Economics, National Security, and Transportation to Advise Policymakers

 

Denver – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in announcing plans to introduce new legislation that would create the America Forward Commission. The commission would consist of a panel of independent experts tasked with developing a broad strategy of how and when to safely reopen the country in light of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

 

“This is one of the most unsettling times in our nation’s history, and we are all anxious to put these days behind us and move forward. To begin reopening our economy, we must ensure we are protecting American lives and not further jeopardizing our economic future,” said Bennet. “Like generations before us who faced incredible challenges of their own, we have a chance to assert our best traditions as Americans. And if we do that – which I know we can – I’m confident we can get our country back on its feet.”

 

“Reopening communities, schools, and businesses following a pandemic is a serious public health matter, and we should treat it that way. Independent experts should be the ones helping us determine how we can reopen the country when it is safe to do so,” said Schatz.

 

“Protecting public health is a core function of government, and it’s a responsibility all elected officials must take seriously. The eventual decision to ease social distancing orders and return to the pre-coronavirus ‘normal’ must be driven by science, not politics,” said Harris. “I’m proud to help introduce this bill to form the America Forward Commission because people in California and across the country deserve the peace of mind that their leaders are listening to the experts and following the facts.”

  

“We’re in the middle of a public health crisis that’s caused an economic crisis—not the other way around. And although Trump would rather open the economy even if it will cost more American lives, we must first deal with the public health crisis by deploying widespread testing and mitigating community spread. At the same time, we need to develop plans for the safest, and most effective, way to restore our economy once we’ve successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve,” said Murphy. “We should mirror what governors—including Governor Lamont in Connecticut and others in the northeast—are doing at the regional level, by establishing an official national advisory body made up of nonpartisan experts to provide guidance to help us navigate these daunting times. We can’t recover from this crisis if we rely on the same politically-minded advisors around Trump that got us here in the first place, and that’s what this legislation seeks to fix.”

 

The legislation will require the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to appoint 10-15 members, with at least one expert in the following fields: public health, economics, transportation, medicine, national security, and state and local government.

 

The American Forward Commission’s duties include:

 

  • Examining and developing standards, tools, and techniques necessary to ensure that federal, state, and local officials can diagnose, isolate, and mitigate the coronavirus, including seasonal reoccurrences, and address other public health and economic impacts;
  • Evaluating information sharing policies and practices for essential information between federal, state, and local stakeholders, as well as business and non-profit entities; 
  • Determining necessary medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and other materials; and
  • Evaluating proposals to strengthen the resilience of economic sectors and protect American workers most vulnerable to disruption from viral pandemics.

 

The Commission will make real-time recommendations to policymakers. The White House Coronavirus Task Force will be required to respond in writing to the Commission’s recommendations within one week of receipt, and to publicly post its responses.


 

 

April 13, 2020

APRIL 13, 2020: State releases initial race and ethnicity data for COVID-19 cases

DENVER, April 13, 2020: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is releasing all available race and ethnicity data on reported cases of COVID-19 in the state. 

The race and ethnicity data released today represents 75% of all reported COVID-19 cases. Cases with an unknown race or ethnicity are excluded from these calculations. 

Initial disease reports to public health are often missing information on race and ethnicity. CDPHE is drafting a public health order to clarify the type of data the department needs from health care entities. The public health order will help the department have a more complete dataset moving forward. 

Using the data available now, the percentage of cases is statistically higher for Hispanic, Black/African American, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Coloradans compared to the overall population distribution. The following graph has more complete information about the percentage of cases and deaths by race and ethnicity: 

Here are the cases collected and analyzed by race/ethnicity by number: 

  • Total: 5188 cases with race and ethnicity data
    • American Indian or Alaskan Natives (non-Hispanic): 24 cases, 0.46% 
    • Asian (non-Hispanic): 116 cases, 2.24% (statistically lower)
    • Black or African American (non-Hispanic): 363 cases, 7.00% (statistically higher)
    • Hispanic: 1,458 cases, 28.10% (statistically higher)
    • Multiple racial categories (non-Hispanic): 96 cases, 1.85% (statistically lower)
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (non-Hispanic): 29 cases, 0.56% (statistically higher)
    • Other: 38 cases, 0.73% (no test performed as population data do not include ‘other’)
    • White (non-Hispanic): 3,064 cases, 59.06% (statistically lower)

Here are the deaths among cases collected and analyzed by race/ethnicity by number:

  • Total:  249 deaths among cases with race and ethnicity data
    • American Indian or Alaskan Natives (non-Hispanic): 2 deaths, 0.80% 
    • Asian (non-Hispanic): 7 deaths, 2.81% 
    • Black or African American (non-Hispanic): 17 deaths, 6.83% 
    • Hispanic: 44 deaths, 17.67% 
    • Multiple racial categories (non-Hispanic): 3 deaths, 1.20% 
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (non-Hispanic): 4 deaths, 1.61% 
    • Other: 0 deaths (no test performed as population data do not include ‘other’)
    • White (non-Hispanic): 172 deaths, 69.08% 

 Colorado has racial disparities in certain chronic diseases due to unequal access to health care and economic opportunities occurring over many generations. Because studies have shown people with underlying health conditions are more likely to die of the virus, tracking racial and ethnic data is a high priority for the department. 

“We know that social and health care inequities affect outcomes, and that becomes even more apparent in times of disaster,” said Jill Hunsaker-Ryan, Executive Director of CDPHE. “There have been generations of institutionalized barriers to things like preventive medical care, healthy food, safe and stable housing, quality education, reliable transportation, and clean air. Research shows that these types of factors are the most predictive of health outcomes. There is much to be learned from this disaster, and the uneven effects of COVID-19 on different communities will perhaps be one of the most profound lessons. It’s apparent now more than ever why we must bridge these inequities and even more closely track the outcomes of COVID-19 by race and ethnicity.”

CDPHE is working continuously on data analysis and will update case data by race/ethnicity and other factors as it is available. Starting tomorrow, CDPHE will add race and ethnicity data to its daily refresh of data.

 

*Unless otherwise indicated, the percentage listed is not statistically different from the general population distribution.

 

April 11, 2020

San Juan Basin Public Health Issues Face Covering Advisory  

La Plata and Archuleta counties, Colo.: San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) issued a Face Covering Advisory for La Plata and Archuleta counties, effective today, April 11, 2020 as an important step to slow the spread of the disease caused by the novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19).

SJBPH and its partners have taken strong measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, but despite these efforts, there continues to be community transmission within Archuleta and La Plata counties. Without a vaccine or treatment, additional social distancing measures are necessary.

Recent information has indicated that covering your nose and mouth can slow the spread of COVID-19 because:

  • Individuals can be contagious before the onset of symptoms. You may be contagious and do not know it. If you have covered your nose and mouth, it can limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • We touch our face less when our face is covered. Touching your face after touching something contaminated with COVID-19 increases your chances of getting sick with the virus.

The face covering advisory is particularly important for essential workers such as grocery and restaurant employees when they are regularly interacting with the public. The advisory also applies to anyone who leaves their home to meet essential needs.

Information on how to make face coverings and properly care for them can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

For the most up to date information on how to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

April 8, 2020

Gov. Polis Provides Update on Colorado Response to COVID-19:  

Announces StayAtHomeCO Guide

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis provided an update today on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 and announced a stay at home guide for Coloradans.

“Everyone is working hard, doing their part, and giving what they can so that we can defeat this virus and get back to normal life here in our great state. This is a critically important time for Coloradans to stay at home to do our part to help save lives,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I know that for so many Coloradans, our faith plays an important role in our lives. We want all Coloradans to have the chance to celebrate the upcoming religious holidays with their loved ones safely. Even though we can’t be together physically, we can be together emotionally and spiritually.”

Gov. Polis discussed important guidelines the administration has released for upcoming religious holidays Coloradans of different faiths will be celebrating, including Easter, Passover, and Ramadan. The Governor encouraged faith leaders to offer online or drive-in services in order to serve their congregations or safely accommodate worshippers by ensuring a six-foot distance between them. 

Other guidelines are:

  • Staff should still be kept to the least amount of people possible;
  • Each person should wear a protective face mask covering; 
  • Coloradans with symptoms shouldn’t come to help or listen for risk of spreading coronavirus;
  • Those in a vulnerable age group or who have a respiratory or auto-immune condition should stay home;
  • Consider providing hand sanitizer and asking about signs of illness prior to admitting; 
  • Sanitize all equipment and use the CDC’s and CDPHE’s cleaning guidance. 

The Governor has held numerous calls with faith leaders during this pandemic and was joined by Rev. Henderson has served as the Executive Director of The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.

*Read the guidance here

The Governor also announced new online resources for Coloradans in the form of https://stayathomeco.colorado.gov/ which includes free resources to support Coloradans while they are at home, from wellness, to services, to education, to entertainment and more. Coloradans can also visit covid.colorado.gov to get information from all state agencies, including the Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID19.colorado.gov which has the most recent available data. 

The Governor also provided an update on the Help Colorado Now relief efforts. To date, Coloradans have donated nearly $10 million, with $1 million of that coming from more than 5,000 donors. Coloradans can visitwww.helpcoloradonow.org to donate their time or money to the relief efforts. 

Colorado Hospital Association Statement on COVID-19 Hospitalizations Data

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. 

“Colorado Hospital Association and its member hospitals and health systems applaud Governor Polis for extending the state’s ‘stay at home’ order,” said Darlene Tad-y, MD, CHA vice president of clinical affairs. “The state shared its modeling data yesterday, which shows that Colorado is making progress in flattening the curve through extensive social distancing efforts, but that cases continue to increase. That is why it is crucial that Coloradans continue to practice social distancing and stay at home, to protect vulnerable neighbors and ensure that the capacity of our health care system can manage this pandemic.

“However, other models, such as the COVID-19 Projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, that have been distributed show that cases in Colorado may have already peaked. Unfortunately, we believe those studies may mislead Coloradans into thinking this is behind us, when in reality, it isn’t. That data doesn’t align with what is actually happening in Colorado hospitals currently – which we are tracking very closely.

“As of this morning, there were 1,228 Coloradans hospitalized with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 symptoms. That number has grown steadily since mid-March, when hospitals began reporting this data to the state. Many of these patients require a supportive hospital stay, which includes oxygen to breathe, fluids, monitoring and medication administration. Of those patients, a smaller group – about 20 percent of those hospitalized – require critical care during their stay. These patients are critically ill, including multi-system organ failure, and they often require the support of a ventilator to breathe. On average, COVID-19 patients that need a ventilator are on the ventilator for five days, with some patients requiring support for as many as 10-14 days. And on aggregate, 40-50 percent of hospitalized patients will require ventilator support at some point during their stay.

“The IHME study suggests that 110 ventilators will be adequate to support Coloradans who become sick with COVID-19. We know that there are nearly four times that number of patients on ventilators in Colorado hospitals today. Not only does this undercut the volume of COVID-19 and COVID-19-suspect patients in our hospitals, but it also entirely misses the other ICU patients who may need to be on a ventilator as well.

“We are all looking forward to the day when we can return to a more normal way of life, but as Governor Polis noted yesterday, we are not there just yet. On behalf of Colorado’s hospitals and our thousands of providers who are doing the heroic work of trying to save as many Coloradans’ lives as possible during this pandemic – we ask that the public continue their heroic role by staying home and social distancing.”

*About Colorado Hospital Association

Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is the leading voice of Colorado’s hospital and health system community. Representing more than 100 member hospitals and health systems throughout the state, CHA serves as a trusted, credible and reliable resource on health issues, hospital data and trends for its members, media, policymakers and the general public. Through CHA, Colorado’s hospitals and health systems work together in their shared commitment to improve health and health care in Colorado.

 

April 7, 2020

Amending and Extending Executive Order D 2020 017 Ordering
Coloradans to Stay at Home Due to the Presence of COVID-19

Pursuant to the authority vested in the Governor of the State of Colorado and, in
particular, pursuant to Article IV, Section 2 of the Colorado Constitution and the relevant portions of the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, C.R.S. § 24-33.5-701 et seq., I, Jared Polis, Governor of the State of Colorado, hereby issue this Executive Order amending and extending Executive Order D 2020 017 ordering Coloradans to stay at home due to the presence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the State.


I. Background and Purpose
On March 5, 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s
(CDPHE) public health laboratory confirmed the first presumptive positive COVID-19 test result in Colorado. Since then, the number of confirmed cases has continued to climb, and we have evidence of community spread throughout the State. I verbally declared a disaster emergency on March 10, 2020 and issued the corresponding Executive Order D 2020 003 on March 11, 2020. On March 25, 2020, I requested that the President of the United States declare a Major
Disaster for the State of Colorado, pursuant to the Stafford Act. The President approved that request on March 28, 2020.

My administration, along with other State, local, and federal authorities, has taken a wide array of actions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, prevent further spread, and protect against overwhelming our health care resources. COVID-19 also physically contributes to property loss, contamination, and damage due to its propensity to attach to surfaces for prolonged periods of time.

On March 25, 2020, I issued Executive Order D 2020 017 ordering Coloradans to stay at home (Stay at Home Order) and CDPHE issued its corresponding Public Health Order (PHO) 20-24 implementing stay at home requirements. The evidence shows that social distancing and the Stay at Home Order are working. The increase in cases and rate of infection are slowing. In addition, there has been a 60% reduction of cars on the road since the beginning of March, which means that there are fewer person-to-person interactions and fewer opportunities for Coloradans to spread the virus. Simply put, by staying home, Coloradans are saving lives. This Executive Order amends and extends Executive Order D 2020 017 to require Coloradans to stay at home until April 26, 2020.

II. Amendments
Section II of Executive Order D 2020 017 is amended to read as follows:

1. I direct all Coloradans to stay at home, unless necessary to provide, support,
perform, or operate Necessary Activities, Minimum Basic Operations, Critical
Government Functions, Necessary Travel or Critical Businesses as such terms are
defined in PHO 20-24, as amended, or any PHO issued pursuant to this Executive
Order.


2. Nothing in this Executive Order prevents a local public health authority from
issuing an order more protective of public health than this Executive Order. To
the extent that provisions in a local public health order are more protective of
public health than this Executive Order or PHO 20-24, as amended, or any PHO
issued pursuant to this Executive Order, such provisions in the local public health
order shall remain in full force and effect.

III. Duration
Executive Order D 2020 017, as amended and extended by this Executive Order, expires on April 26, 2020, unless modified, rescinded, or extended further by Executive Order. In all other respects, Executive Order D 2020 017 shall remain in full force and effect as originally promulgated.

 

April 6, 2020

San Juan Basin Public Health Launches COVID-19 Symptom Tracker

La Plata and Archuleta counties, Colo.: Today, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) launched an online, anonymous COVID-19 symptom tracking survey for use by residents in La Plata and Archuleta counties who suspect they have COVID-19. With confirmation of community-level transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and lack of widespread available testing in La Plata and Archuleta counties, the collected information will help us to better understand whether the virus is increasing, remaining steady, or decreasing in spread. Also, the short survey will allow SJBPH communicable disease staff to better understand the breadth of disease in the region to help inform the level of medical and hospital preparedness.

Once an appropriate amount of information is collected from the symptom tracker, it will be reported in aggregate form on SJBPH’s website. The form is available in English and Spanish at https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

The current case count for COVID-19 in La Plata County is 29 and Archuleta county is 6 and SJBPH has performed 146 tests in both counties. However, the COVID-19 virus can be missed with current testing which is why this tracking form was developed. For individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, SJBPH advises that they assume to have the virus and follow Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) guidance on isolation and asks that individuals complete the online symptom tracker.

*For the most up to date information on how to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

 

April 5, 2020

State provides COVID-19 modeling data  

DENVER (April 5, 2020): The state today released additional COVID-19 modeling data to the public. Governor Jared Polis first provided an in-depth analysis of the data during a press conference on March 27. The state will continue to review data as it evolves to inform future policy decisions.

The modeling data was produced by an expert team that the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) assembled to assist the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in understanding the potential course of the pandemic in Colorado. 

Drawing on expertise from the ColoradoSPH and the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, and the University of Colorado in Denver and Boulder, a team of volunteer experts modeled the pandemic using approaches tailored to Colorado, updating the modeling as the disease continues to spread in the state.

The team uses a fundamental approach: the SEIR model. The basics of the models are intuitive: prior to infection, individuals are susceptible (S) and once exposed (E) and infected (I) they are contagious, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic; those infected may recover and become resistant (R) or become sufficiently ill to need hospitalization and possibly critical care and to die. This standard model is thus abbreviated as the SEIR model. 

Another important number in the model is the reproductive number (R0), that is, the average number of new cases generated per infected person at the beginning of the outbreak. (The Governor has referred to this number as the “R naught.”) If that number exceeds one then the infection will spread. Various figures for R0 have been reported at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic from different parts of the world, ranging from about 2 to 5. The reproductive number depends, in part, on the frequency of contacts between infected and uninfected individuals. The goal of social distancing, which we are all experiencing now, is to reduce these contacts and lower the reproductive number with a target value below one so that contagion ends. A critical question is: How much social distancing is needed to control the epidemic, and how long does it need to be in place?

The tables below provide two sets of numbers provided to CDPHE and the Governor’s Office. The numbers provided are for critical indicators and show the variation by the value of R0 at the beginning of the outbreak and the effectiveness of social distancing at reducing the contact rate, ranging from none to an 80% reduction. When these numbers were calculated, the team found that the R0 value for Colorado was likely above 3. To capture the uncertainty in R0 and the effectiveness of social distancing, estimates are provided for a range of values.

Model R0 3.5 4.0 with SD 0 to 80

Model R0 3.0 4.0 SD 0 to 60

 

The Colorado modeling team has continued to refine its models as the data accumulate on the course of the pandemic. There are other models that provide estimates for Colorado, but those models are not as closely linked to the state’s data.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

 

State to provide update on COVID-19

DENVER (April 5): Representatives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will provide a brief update on COVID-19 and will take questions from the media. 

WHO: Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director, CDPHE

          Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, CDPHE

          Dr. Eric France, Chief Medical Officer, CDPHE

          Scott Bookman, Incident Commander for state COVID-19 response, will also be available for Q and A

 

WHERE: Zoom for media. If you are a member of the media, please RSVP  to Alison Reidmohr at alison.reidmohr@state.co.us to receive call-in information and instructions for asking questions. Please remember to mute your phone. Please identify yourself and your media outlet. 

Members of the public can view the press conference live on the CDPHE’s Facebook page

 

WHEN:   Monday, April 6, 2020 2 p.m., MT

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

 

April 4, 2020

Additional COVID-19 cases in Archuleta County
SJBPH Urges Residents to Comply With ‘Stay at Home’ Orders

Pagosa, Colo.: San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reports five residents in Archuleta County are positive for COVID-19, in addition to one previously reported. These individuals are currently self-isolating. SJBPH will take all steps necessary to get in touch with anyone who had close direct contact with residents who are positive for COVID-19 to provide instructions for self-isolations, self-quarantining, and monitoring of symptoms.

In addition to the five new cases, SJBPH also reports that all results from the SJBPH community test site at Pagosa Springs Medical Center on March 30th, 2020, came back negative for the virus. The community testing site provided tests for 40 individuals and resulted in no lab-confirmed positive tests for the highly contagious novel corona virus. Despite these test results, the COVID-19 virus can be missed with current testing.

“With both the shortages in widespread testing and the possibility of tests missing the virus, please continue to self-isolate if you have symptoms. This is particularly important in a small community with less access to healthcare” said Liane Jollon, Executive Director of SJBPH.  SJBPH advises individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, to assume that they have the virus and follow Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) guidance on isolation.

SJBPH acknowledges and appreciates the efforts of Archuleta County residents in abiding by Governor Polis’ ‘stay at home’ order and practicing aggressive social distancing when necessary. “All residents of Archuleta County are urged to continue to make responsible choices to protect your community and stay at home,” said Jollon. “Each of us carries outsized responsibility to keep our families, our friends, and our entire communities healthy and safe. Right now, our individual actions are the only tools we have to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus.”, she said. 

Please continue to keep yourself, your family, and your friends and neighbors safe by:

  • Staying at home
  • Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently
  • Staying 6ft away from others when out in public
  • Covering your nose and mouth when out in public

 

*For the most up to date information on how to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

 

April 3, 2020

Gov. Polis Provides Update on State Response to COVID-19

DENVER - Gov. Polis today provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor discussed what is being done to support the state’s economy, including workers and businesses and called upon all Coloradans to wear cloth face coverings when they go out of the house for essential functions like grocery shopping.

“We know that Coloradans across our state are making personal sacrifices to prioritize the public health and safety of their family and neighbors,” said Governor Jared Polis. “The better job we do at staying home and wearing facial masks whenever we absolutely must go out to contain the virus in Colorado, the sooner we can return to something resembling economic normalcy. Refusing to stay at home will only extend the state’s economic pain.”

The Governor announced that he is asking all Coloradans to wear cloth face coverings when they go out of the house for essential functions like grocery shopping. Data suggests up to 1 in 4 people infected with COVID are asymptomatic and spreading infected respiratory droplets. Masks offer minimal protection for the wearer, but they make a big difference in helping to protect others if a person is infected and doesn’t know it. The state has partnered with ColoradoMaskProject.com, where people can find patterns for making their own masks and ideas for how to help others who can’t make their own, get one. To learn more, read the FAQ document here and visit https://www.coloradomaskproject.com/

Here is Nathaniel Rateliff’s PSA encouraging Coloradans to wear cloth face coverings. 

Gov. Polis discussed the relief the federal government is providing through the CARES Act, which offers economic assistance for the millions of Coloradans who have felt the economic pain of this national health crisis and now feel the strain of financial obligations. The measure offers $1,200 in one-time direct cash assistance; over 90% of Colorado families will qualify. It also provides $500 per child under 17 years old.

In Colorado, the number of unemployment claims tripled, going from 20,000 last week to 60,000 this week. The Governor encouraged Coloradans to continue applying for benefits at www.coloradoui.gov. A person could be eligible for 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits from the state of Colorado. In addition, a person could also be eligible for an extra $600 per month for the first four months of unemployment because of the federal stimulus. To learn more about different types of unemployment and how to apply, visit www.Colorado.gov/CDLE

The Governor also provided an update on the state’s current testing status. Colorado has the capacity to run 10,000 tests per day, but due to the lack of testing supplies such as swabs, the state is processing 2,000 tests per day. The Governor is setting bold goals of having the state running 3,500 in the next two weeks and 5,000 tests per day by May.

Gov. Polis also encouraged Coloradans to consider fostering or adopting pets during the pandemic. People can visitwww.protectcoloradoanimals.org

Click here to view the Governor’s presentation. 

Gov. Polis will extend Executive Order D 2020 12 allowing counties to temporarily waive interest on delinquent property tax payments until May 1.  

Gov. Polis also signed an Executive Order temporarily suspending taxpayer filing requirements and property valuation schedules for certain taxable property. Read the Executive Order here

 

State health department distributes third allotment from Strategic National Stockpile

DENVER, April 3, 2020: The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are distributing critical resources to help communities respond to COVID-19. This week, Colorado received a third allotment from the Strategic National Stockpile, which is being distributed across the state.  

The Strategic National Stockpile is “the nation’s largest supply of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.” This week Colorado received its third allotment, which included:

  • 122,490 N95 masks
  • 287,022 surgical masks
  • 56,160 face shields
  • 57,300 surgical gowns
  • 392,000 gloves
  • 3,636 coveralls

Colorado has received a total of the following materials from all three allotments:

  • 220,010 N95 masks
  • 517,000 surgical masks
  • 100,232 face shields
  • 100,140 surgical gowns
  • 504,000 gloves
  • 3,816 coveralls

Information about the first allotment can be found here and the second allotment can be found here.

The State Unified Command Group, which is part of the State EOC, will distribute these materials to every county health department and tribe throughout the state where they are needed most. The following factors were used to determine allocation:

  • county population
  • portion of the population that is older than age 65 proportional to the state population
  • the number of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals
  • if the county or tribe has received supplies previously

All counties health departments and tribes in the state will receive supplies. CDPHE will work with regional staff to coordinate deliveries. 

There are many ways people can contribute to these efforts:

  • The EOC is coordinating requests for supplies, donations of supplies, vendors who can provide supplies, and trained medical personnel. Please follow the three steps on the Colorado Business EOC website [colorado.gov/cobeoc/business-members-and-vendors] to create an account in the state resource database. The State EOC uses this database to fill all resource requests from state and local agencies during emergencies.
  • Coloradans who wish to donate or volunteer to help those affected by COVID-19 should visit www.helpcoloradonow.com.
  • There is an urgent need for blood. Go to vitalent.org to sign up to donate blood.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is meant for single-use and is recommended by the CDC to be used for COVID-19 testing. In order to preserve these important resources for critical health care needs, CDPHE is urging the public to not wait for a test to self-isolate. People who are not at high risk of severe illness may not need to be evaluated in person or tested for COVID-19. Not everyone with symptoms will be tested right away. Call your health care provider only if your illness becomes more severe, especially if you are experiencing shortness of breath. 

If you have any symptoms -- even mild ones -- public health urges you to stay home and isolate yourself until: 

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (without the use of medicine) AND
  • Other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) have improved AND
  • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
  • Anyone in your household you have had close contact with (within six feet for approximately 10 minutes) should self-quarantine for 14 days, even if you haven’t been tested for COVID-19.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call 911. If you have severe respiratory symptoms, especially shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tell the 911 dispatcher about your symptoms. Do not wait for a COVID-19 test to call 911.

*Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

 

April 2, 2020

COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period for Health Insurance Extended to April 30

DENVER - The COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period for individual health insurance will be extended to run through April 30, 2020. The original period that was announced on March 19 was set to end on Friday, April 3. The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), has worked with Connect for Health Colorado to add nearly a month more for Coloradans who are currently uninsured to get health coverage.  

 

For anyone enrolling after April 3, their health insurance will become effective May 1.  

We want to do everything we can to ensure Coloradans have the resources they need during this difficult time,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “As this pandemic continues, we know that having health insurance will be critical, which is why we are extending this enrollment period. Everyday my administration is evaluating what steps we can take to minimize the health impact and economic impact of this crisis.”

“I’m pleased that our team, and the folks at Connect for Health Colorado, have worked to make this happen,”said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway. “I urge everyone that doesn’t have insurance to work with Connect for Health Colorado to determine what insurance plans are available to them and to see if they qualify for financial assistance.” 

Only people who are currently uninsured are eligible to enroll, as this is not a period for people with coverage to change plans. Uninsured spouses and children will also be allowed to enroll at this time, even if one spouse or a child’s parent may already be insured. 

All individual insurance plans (meaning plans NOT from an employer) are available. People enrolling during this period only have to verbally attest that they are currently uninsured, and the insurance companies cannot require further proof of being uninsured. 

Colorado consumers are encouraged to enroll through our state’s exchange, Connect for Health Colorado. Financial assistance for those who qualify is only available when enrolling through Connect for Health Colorado. Contact Connect at 855-752-6749 or find in-person assistance through their statewide network of certified experts at connectforhealthco.com/person-help, including appointments with a broker or assister by phone. In addition, Connect for Health offers tools such as the Quick Cost & Plan Finder that can help check eligibility for financial assistance while finding plans that fit consumers’ needs. 

Coloradans who lose their job, or who may lose their job in the coming weeks, and thus lose their employer-based health insurance, are reminded that loss of such coverage allows them a 60-day window to enroll in individual coverage, whenever that might happen throughout the year. See Connect for Health Colorado’s “When can I buy insurance?” page for details. 

 

April 1, 2020

COVID-19 Update From Colorado Parks and Wildlife  

We are receiving an influx of calls and reports of false social media posts and even robocalls claiming that hunting and fishing seasons are canceled, that valid licenses are no longer required to hunt and fish, or that park fees have been rescinded due to the COVID-19 outbreak. These reports are false, and appear to have increased based on today being April Fool’s Day. Do not share your personal information with anyone calling claiming to provide CPW product refunds. 

All effects on our operations, including any changes to hunting, fishing or recreation in any of Colorado’s state parks can be found on the agency’s COVID-19 page, prominently featured on the home page of cpw.state.co.us.

“In a time where so many things are uncertain and changeable, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff is working hard to ensure Coloradans maintain the ability to find comfort in the outdoors, and continue their outdoor activities to the fullest extent possible,” said CPW director Dan Prenzlow. “It’s disappointing that people are taking advantage of the already heightened sense of disruption in our communities to spread false information.”

Though our offices and visitor centers remain closed to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19, staff remain available at all CPW offices and parks to answer questions. Both the CPW website and our licensing, pass and registration purchasing site at CPWshop.com remain available and will provide the most consistent and accurate information about the outdoor recreation opportunities managed by CPW. 


If you have any questions about how to safely and appropriately live life outside during this outbreak, visit cpw.state.co.us.

 

March 31, 2020

Gov. Polis Requests Extension of Work Permits for DACA recipients

DENVER - Gov. Jared Polis today urged the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security requesting automatic extensions of work authorizations for all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients whose grants expire in 2020.

“Coloradans face unprecedented challenges to their economic and social lives, and this extension would provide some needed stability to our businesses and residents who benefit from opportunities that DACA provides,” the Governor wrote to Acting Secretary Wolf. 

Since DACA was established in 2012, nearly 15,000 Dreamers living in Colorado have been able to continue their studies, work, and contribute to the country they call home. 

“About 15,000 DACA recipients call Colorado home, and many of them are employed in key industries and critical occupations, such as health care practitioners and support occupations, that help Colorado face our current challenges. Facing a global pandemic takes all Americans, and all Coloradans, and this includes those residents who currently are able to contribute to help us in our shared challenges because of their ability to apply their education and training to our workforce in these unprecedented times through the DACA program,”the letter continued.  

View the letter here.

Governor Polis signed legislation ensuring DACA recipients could qualify for financial aid in Colorado and appointed the first DACA recipient to serve on a state board or commission. While serving in Congress, then-Congressman Polis was a cosponsor of the DREAM Act. 

 

March 30, 2020

Gov. Polis Provides Update on State Response to COVID-19

DENVER, Colo.: Gov. Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 as well as information on current cases in Colorado, including the number of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities. Gov. Polis was also joined by Dr. Marc Moss, head of pulmonology at the University of Colorado - Anschutz Medical Campus and a doctor at UC Health who came to represent the thousands of medical professionals working on the front lines in Colorado. 

While the virus is still spreading rapidly in Colorado, our community will start to see the effects of the recent steps we’ve taken in the coming days and weeks. In the near-term, it is crucial that we all stay home whenever possible to avoid jeopardizing the health of their friends, family, and community,” said Governor Jared Polis. “During this challenging time, though we must be distant physically from one another for our health, I encourage Coloradans to remain close to our loved ones through different forms of communication like telephone and video chat and through acts of kindness.”

“As a pulmonary specialist, I have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re seeing this virus significantly impact Coloradans of all ages and we are now caring for an unprecedented number of critically ill patients,” said Dr. Marc Moss. “Our health care system is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. We continue working alongside our fellow health care workers to ensure we are doing everything we can to care for our patients.”

The Governor continued to urge Coloradans to stay home. Gov. Polis discussed the supplies that the state Colorado has requested from the federal government, what has been distributed thus far and what the remaining need it currently has and what is needed for Colorado to effectively slow the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of Coloradans. 

The Governor also discussed state traffic data as an important proxy to demonstrate the impact of recent social distancing and stay-at-home measures. Colorado has seen a 60% reduction of cars on the road over the last four weeks. This data was collected across the state on interstates, U.S. and state highways, and other roads from a network of more than 50 automatic traffic recorders (ATRs). These ATRs provide traffic count data that can be analyzed hourly, daily, and weekly and used to compare current traffic levels to baseline levels. Traffic levels can show changes in behavior, whether that’s a reduction in weekday work commuting, and changes in weekend driving that may be associated with errands or recreation. Between March 1-25, the average daily volume of vehicles is decreasing by 400 cars per day. View the presentation here

On Saturday, March 28, the federal government approved a Major Disaster Declaration request for Colorado, unlocking access to more federal resources for the state. This designation, combined with the legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President, is welcome relief on both the emergency management front and the economic front. The Governor has held daily calls with Colorado’s federal delegation 

On Sunday, March 22, Gov. Polis announced the creation of the Innovation Response Team (IRT). Today he announced the appointment of Sarah Tuneberg, an entrepreneur and emergency manager with more than a decade of public health and emergency management experience, as the Director of the IRT. The IRT is building a mass testing program for the COVID-19 virus, creating a suite of services for citizens under isolation or quarantine, developing mobile and other technologies to help track the spread of the virus and support infected citizens, and developing locally-sourced alternatives for constrained critical medical supplies.

Watch today’s press conference here

 

State health department provides update on state wide COVID-19 testing strategy

DENVER, Colo.: Testing for COVID-19 continues to be a top priority for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The Colorado Unified Coordination Group (UCG)  is currently supporting strategic, targeted community testing for health care workers and first responders, and are working to increase the state’s testing capabilities.

There are two primary routes to testing in Colorado today:

  1. Hospital staff, hospitalized patients, and vulnerable, symptomatic patients receiving care at health care facilities can get tested at those facilities.
  2. Critical health care workers and first responders who have symptoms can get tested at community testing sites being run by local public health agencies in various communities.

“Right now, due to limited supplies of testing kits and personal protective equipment, testing needs to be focused on the people who are the most at-risk from this disease and the people in charge of caring for and keeping the rest of us safe. It’s important to protect the most critical element of the health care system. We are working hard to get the supplies and capacity to move to broader public testing, but until then our message remains the same: if you have only mild symptoms, self-isolate and don’t wait for a test,” said Scott Bookman, CDPHE COVID-19 Incident Commander.

The state has distributed 4200 testing kits and PPE to local public health agencies in El Paso, Larimer and Mesa Counties. The counties will use these supplies to test healthcare workers and first responders across their regions. The CDPHE lab also sent 300 testing kits to the Ute Mountain Ute tribe. More testing kits will be provided to local public health agencies once those supplies are received from FEMA.

Meanwhile, the UCG  is working to develop plans that local public health agencies can use to conduct their own community testing sites when testing kits are more readily available. 

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is meant for single-use and is recommended by the CDC to be used for COVID-19 testing. In order to preserve these important resources for critical health care needs, CDPHE has recommended that health care providers prioritize testing according to these tiers:

TIER 1 

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Health care workers with symptoms

TIER 2

  • Patients in long-term care facilities or other residential settings such as homeless shelters or correctional facilities with symptoms
  • Patients over age 65 with symptoms
  • Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms*
  • First responders with symptoms
  • Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms**
  • People with symptoms who work with vulnerable populations or in group residential settings

TIER 3

  • Other individuals with symptoms

CDPHE is urging the public to not wait for a test to self-isolate. People who are not at high risk of severe illness may not need to be evaluated in person or tested for COVID-19. Not everyone with symptoms will be tested right away. Call your healthcare provider if your illness becomes more severe, especially if you are experiencing shortness of breath. You can use telehealth or a nurseline to get medical guidance; find out more and access a  list of telehealth and nurseline resources here:
https://covid19.colorado.gov/telehealth-and-nurselines

If you have any symptoms -- even mild ones -- public health urges you to stay home and isolate yourself until: 

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (without the use of medicine) AND
  • Other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) have improved AND
  • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
  • Anyone in your household you have had close contact with (within six feet for approximately 10 minutes) should self-quarantine for 14 days, even if you haven’t been tested for COVID-19.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call 911. If you have severe respiratory symptoms, especially shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tell the 911 dispatcher about your symptoms. Do not wait for a COVID-19 test to call 911.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

*A list of people who are at higher risk of severe disease can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/people-at-higher-risk.html; however, this list may not be complete.

**Critical infrastructure workers are those working in these sectors (https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors) who have a unique role in their work that cannot easily be transferred to other workers.

 

 State Works to Increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Beds Statewide

DENVER, Colo.:The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is working with communities across the state to prepare for an expected major increase in the need for intensive care unit (ICU) beds as a result of COVID-19. 

The SEOC is partnering with local public health organizations, health care facilities, the Colorado Hospital Association, and federal and state agencies to prepare for a potential medical surge by:

  • Identifying all current hospital beds in the state by type of care.
  • Helping health care facilities with plans to free up ICU beds and transfer patients.
  • Identifying and preparing alternative care sites that could be repurposed to provide medical care.
  • Identifying and redeploying additional ventilators to areas of need with the goal of increasing ICU bed capacity.

Current estimates are that Colorado has 1,849 ICU beds across the state. The state’s goal is to add 1,000 beds by May, and to add another 5,000 by the summer. 

In the meantime, each health care facility is working to move patients out of ICUs, when possible, into acute care beds and lower-needs beds in order to prepare for increased demand in ICU settings.  

In order to open up beds in the acute care setting, ambulatory surgical centers will receive patients from acute care hospitals who are close to discharge or awaiting admission to other facilities. These ambulatory surgical centers are capable of providing medical oversight for those patients who need it, and most of the centers have space, staff, and resources available since elective surgeries are being delayed in accordance with a state public health order. The beds opened up in the acute care setting could then potentially turn into ICU beds. 

Local public health organizations and local emergency managers are also working to identify alternative care sites. Potential sites are medical facilities that could be repurposed, those that are currently underutilized, or those that have been closed due to low demand or newer hospitals being built. As local agencies create local plans for alternative care sites, they are sending their recommendations and resource needs to the SEOC.

In addition to medical sites, the SEOC has worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to identify other locations like hotels, dormitories and vacant buildings that could potentially be repurposed for medical use. The State Architect and the SEOC are evaluating these sites for medical use. This includes looking at condition, location, number of potential beds and cost to convert. Ideal locations are within one mile and up to five miles of current acute care hospitals.

 

 

March 29, 2020

Southern Ute Indian Tribe confirms two positive cases of COVID-19

Southern Ute Indian Reservation, Colo. – Two employees of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal government have tested positive for COVID 19. They are in self-quarantine and we wish them the best in their recovery.  All appropriate steps are being taken to identify anyone who may have been exposed for notification to self-quarantine and self-monitor for symptoms of the disease. San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (DCPHE) are providing assistance during this investigation.  Anyone who is contacted by SJBPH and CDPHE are encouraged to cooperate to assist them in protecting the health and welfare of our Southern Ute tribal membership and government.  It is important to know that, by definition of the Centers for Disease Control, you have not been “exposed” unless you have had close contact with a person who has tested positive.

The definition of close contact is:

“being about six (6) feet (approximately two (2) meters) from an infected person or within the room or care area of an infected patient for a prolonged period while not wearing recommended PPE. Close contact also includes instances where there is direct contact with infectious secretions while not wearing recommended PPE. Close contact generally does not include brief interactions, such as walking past a person.”

All previous advisories about how to protect yourself, self-monitor and avoid exposing others to any illness you may have are doubly important now.  In addition to all precautions already in effect being maintained the following new procedure will take effect immediately:

Any staff reporting to work at any tribal facility in Ignacio must report to the tents behind the Health Center before proceeding to their work location. Employees will be screened and cleared to work that day by Health Center staff if they have no fever or other symptoms of COVID-19.                               

The only exception to this rule are law enforcement personnel who will be screened upon arrival at the Justice Center.

Please remain calm and vigilant.  Protect yourself and protect others by staying at home if you are ill.  We knew this day would come, but we will overcome this in due time.

 

March 27, 2020

Gov. Polis Provides Update on State Response to COVID-19

DENVER - Gov. Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 and discussed the predictive modeling that is guiding the public health decisions the state is making as well as the updated public health order that corresponds with the stay-at-home executive order. 

“I continue urging my fellow Coloradans to stay home whenever possible. This global pandemic is not a competition about what you think you can get away with. The data we put forth today shows that staying home is crucial to saving lives. These are not statistics on a page, these are your neighbors, your friends, and even your family members,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “Our community and our economy will come out of this stronger than before but that means everyone must do their part.”

The Governor thanked Dr. Jon Samet, Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and his team who have been working hard to put together the modeling data in partnership with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Governor provided a slide by slide presentation for members of the media and the general public today. View the slides the Governor presented today here. 

Gov. Polis and the Department of Health and Environment also updated the public health order corresponding with the stay-at-home executive order. The changes include:

  • Critical businesses must comply with a stay at home and social distancing requirements and should minimize staff to those who are critical to the functioning of the business. 
  • Necessary travel now includes transporting children between separate households pursuant to a parenting plan or other agreement governing parental responsibilities and non-residents returning to their place of residence.
  • Essential government services now include airports, activities related to the conduct of elections, and local governments
  • Minimum basic operations now include filling online product orders and to process customer orders remotely.

Read the updated public health order here

Today, the Governor also signed executive orders today allowing Coloradans to get their marriage licenses without going in person and allowing the state to access additional funds from the Disaster Emergency Fund. Click to view D 2020 018 and D 2020-014

During the press conference, Gov. Polis continued to urge Coloradans to stay home and practice social distancing. He also urged employers to follow social distancing requirements and implement telework options or staggered work schedules to protect the health of their employees. 

Watch today’s press conference here

 

San Juan Basin Public Health Closes Lobbies to Public; Services Still Available by Appointment, Phone, and Online

La Plata and Archuleta counties, Colo: Effective March 26, 2020 San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) announced that their Durango office at 281 Sawyer Drive, Suite 300 and their Pagosa Springs office at 502 South 8th street will close their lobbies to the public. Services will be available by appointment only until further notice. SJBPH is making this change in order to follow social distancing recommendations, the governor’s ‘stay at home’ order, and to protect our community. SJBPH staff is still working and available to all clients.

Community members needing copies of birth and death certificates should submit applications online or by mail. SJBPH staff are available to assist with questions and payment online or by phone.  All certified copies will be return to applicants via mail. Due to this change there will be a slight delay in receiving a birth or death certificate. SJBPH Sexual Health and Immunization clinics will be available for consults over the phone, birth control pickups and essential appointments. Other client-centered services are still serving clients over the phone, or with alternative modes of interaction. Call one of our team members to find out more:

Durango Office Front Desk 970-247-5702

Pagosa Springs Office Front Desk 970-264-2409

Vital Statistics 970-247-5702 or 970-264-2409

Care Coordination 970-335-2073

Communications 970-335-2044

Environmental Health 970-335-2052

Immunization Clinic 970-335-2011

Health Insurance Literacy 970-335-2021

Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) 970-335-2083

Public Health Emergency and Response 970-335-2017

SafeCare 970-335-2041

Women Infants and Children (WIC) 970-335-2018

Sexual Health Clinic 970-335-2015

Single Entry point/ Options for Long term Care 970-335-2075

Thriving Communities 970-335-2091

For the most up to date information, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/

 

San Juan Basin Public Health and Pagosa Springs Medical Center Plan Temporary Drive-Through COVID-19 Testing Site for High-Risk Individuals in Archuleta County

Archuleta and La Plata counties, Colo.:  San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) are opening a temporary drive-through testing site at PSMC on Tuesday, March 31st, from noon – 4 pm to collect COVID-19 (coronavirus) data, in collaboration with local multi-agency response partners.

Limited testing will be conducted at the site for individuals who meet specific testing criteria

Qualifications for testing of Archuleta County residents or people employed in the county will based on meeting Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) criteria for COVID-19 symptoms, and those who are:

  • Healthcare or long-term care workers
  • First responders
  • Older adults
  • Individuals with underlying health conditions such as heart or lung disease, or diabetes

Individuals who meet the above criteria need to call their doctors as soon as possible to get a doctor’s order, and then call the Archuleta County Central Call Center at 970.422.7084 to arrange a time slot for testing. 

Individuals who qualify for testing will be required to remain in their vehicles from the moment they enter the PSMC parking lot, until they leave the property. There could be a potential wait time in the testing line, so personal needs such as bathrooms, food, and drinks will need to be taken care of before arriving.

“There is a significant shortage of test kits nationally, in Colorado, and in Archuleta County.”, said Liane Jollon, SJBPH Executive Director. “Because of the limited number of tests that have been performed, we believe the number of COVID-19 cases in the community has been underreported. This first testing opportunity will be limited but will provide us a snapshot of the spread of the disease in this community and will allow local public health officials to take actions to mitigate future spread of COVID-19. Our end goal is to have widespread testing and SJBPH is actively seeking additional resources to provide more testing in the communities we serve,” she said.

As of 3/26/20, 1 person in Archuleta County has tested positive for COVID-19.  So far, 12 people in La Plata County are considered positive.

All tests will be allocated to those who meet the criteria listed above. Only members of the community who meet the criteria will be tested at the PSMC testing site.

In the absence of more widespread testing, people who have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing should assume they have coronavirus and should self-quarantine or isolate themselves.

Other members of the public who are not experiencing symptoms should take protective measures to prevent the spread of the disease. The measures include adhering to the state-mandated stay-at-home order,  social distancing when in public, and everyday precautions like frequent hand washing, and avoiding contact with sick people.

Pagosa Springs Medical Center is located at 95 S. Pagosa Blvd. in Pagosa Springs.  For more information on the testing site please call the Archuleta County Central Call Center at 970.422.7084.

For the most up to date information, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

 

Gov. Polis: COVID-19 Relief Fund Accepting Grant Applications

DENVER - Last week, Governor Jared Polis announced the launch of joint efforts to raise relief funds and volunteer efforts to address this public health crisis. 

Help Colorado Now has raised $7.7 million dollars from nearly 4,000 individuals, foundations and companies since the fund launched. More than 9,000 volunteers including 2,000 health care volunteers have signed up to date. 

“This is exciting news at a tough time for our state, and this milestone could not have been achieved without the support and spirit of Coloradans,” said Gov. Polis. “This is an opportunity to reflect on what we can achieve when we work together and how we can help our fellow Coloradans and small businesses bounce back stronger than ever. I’m thankful for the support these efforts have received to date. Let’s all continue to rise to the challenge.” 

The grant process has now begun and will be on a rolling basis. Those interested in applying for relief funds up to $25K can apply here. 

Coloradans can donate or sign up to volunteer at  www.HelpColoradoNow.org. The Colorado COVID Relief Fund's purpose is to raise funds and coordinate the allocation of those contributions. Funds raised will be used to support the needs of communities impacted by COVID-19 in both response and recovery. Organizations helping with the response to COVID-19 are now eligible to apply for funds. 

The fund will support work in three categories: prevention, impact, and recovery efforts. This will include things like medical and cleaning supplies, food services, early childhood education, small business support, behavioral health services, and more.  The fund will not provide direct assistance to individuals, but to community-based organizations providing direct assistance. 

Coloradans who can’t donate money are encouraged to donate their time by volunteering. Many people have skills that can be applied during this time, especially former health care workers who could return to the workforce to assist with the demand. In addition to funding and volunteers, the Governor continues to encourage healthy donors to donate blood to prevent a shortage in Colorado. Coloradans can visit Vitalant.org or click here to find a blood drive or donation center in their area.  

The Colorado COVID Relief Fund is hosted by the State of Colorado and Mile High United Way. The effort is co-chaired by Rick Sakpin and Roxane White. Additionally, the Colorado Health Foundation assisted in getting the application process up and running. The fund is overseen by a committee of community leaders from across Colorado and will be providing aid to support Colorado communities and organizations affected by the recent outbreak of COVID-19.  

 

March 26, 2020

First Positive COVID-19 Case in Archuleta County 

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) has received confirmation of the first positive case of COVID-19 in an adult resident of Archuleta County. No further details about the case will be shared to protect the privacy of this individual.

SJBPH is already performing public health best practice steps for disease investigation, including contact tracing. Once someone is confirmed as infected with a virus, contacts are identified by asking about the person’s activities and the activities of the people around them since the onset of the infectious period. All known contacts are identified and informed of their contact status, and the importance of receiving early care if they develop symptoms. Contacts will also be provided with information about prevention of the disease. In some cases, quarantine or isolation is required for high risk contacts, either at home or in hospital.

Contact tracing by this method protects the privacy rights of patients in accordance with federal law, and details of the individuals’ whereabouts or contacts during the presumed infectious period will not be publicly shared by SJBPH. Individuals who are believed to have had contact with an infected person will be directly contacted by SJBPH staff.

“San Juan Basin Public Health expected that Archuleta County would see positive cases and we imagine we will see more cases in the days to come,” said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon. “All residents of Archuleta County are urged to make responsible choices to protect our community and stay at home, according the governor’s recent orders,” she said. 

For the most up to date information visit SJBPH’s website: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/ 

Other helpful resources: 

 

SJBPH’s website will be updated with case counts once daily at 5 p.m.

 

 

Activation of 2-1-1 

State of Colorado Activates 2-1-1 Colorado to Connect Coloradans with Human Services Resources During COVID-19 Pandemic

CENTENNIAL (March 26): Today, in partnership with Mile High United Way, the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center activated 2-1-1 Colorado to connect Coloradans with human service resources statewide. Coloradans can reach 2-1-1 Colorado online at 211Colorado.org, by dialing 2-1-1 or texting your Zip Code to 898-211. Do not call 911 for COVID-19 questions unless it is a medical emergency.

2-1-1 Colorado is a confidential and multilingual service connecting people across the State of Colorado to vital resources in their local community. 2-1-1 serves as one central location where people can access over 7,500 health and human service resources. 

Callers may experience long wait times, as demand for information is high. 2-1-1 Colorado is hiring in order to reduce wait times and meet Coloradans’ needs. Coloradans can also reach 2-1-1 Colorado online at 211Colorado.org.

2-1-1 provides navigation services to resources such as:  

  • Housing, including shelters and transitional services.
  • Rent and utility assistance.
  • Applying for SNAP benefits by phone.
  • Childcare.
  • Food/meals.
  • Transportation.
  • Clothing/personal/household needs.
  • Mental health and substance use disorders. 
  • Employment.
  • Education.
  • Medical clinics.
  • Dental clinic.
  • Other government/economic services.

2-1-1 will work in conjunction with The Colorado Health Emergency Line for the Public (CO HELP), a toll-free hotline for the latest public health information. If Coloradans are looking for general information about COVID-19, such as the number of cases in Colorado, the list of symptoms, or how you can protect yourself, they can call CO HELP by dialing 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911. 

"2-1-1 Colorado provides an invaluable service to thousands of individuals and families across Colorado. 2-1-1 is committed to meeting the growing needs of our community members impacted by the outbreak, and we are expanding our capacity to reach more people in need of support. We encourage all of our neighbors in need of immediate resources to connect with 2-1-1 Colorado to get help. We are grateful to the State of Colorado for their support and all the volunteers and donors who are supporting us to be able to answer the call,” said Christine Benero, President and CEO, Mile High United Way.

2-1-1 Resource Navigators are available to help by phone, Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and have access to a language translation service to accommodate over 170 languages. Coloradans can also reach 2-1-1 toll-free by dialing 866-760-6489. 

2-1-1 and CO HELP cannot offer medical advice or assistance. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.

March 25, 2020

Gov. Polis Announces Statewide Stay-At-Home Order, Provides Update on Colorado Response to COVID-19

CENTENNIAL - Today Gov. Polis announced a statewide stay-at-home order beginning on Thursday, March 26 at 6:00 a.m. and will last until April 11, 2020. The Governor also provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and actions taken to limit the spread of the virus. 

“Coloradans are living through a global pandemic and this decision was made to help save lives,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We will continue doing everything we can to get the resources Colorado needs to address COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all Coloradans. In true Colorado spirit, we’re seeing our friends, family and neighbors rise to the challenge, donating their time, money or extra supplies to support relief efforts at the state and local levels. We are in this together and this is the season to stay at home to save lives.” 

This executive order means Coloradans should not be leaving their homes except for critical activities including: 

  • Obtaining food and other household necessities including medicine
  • Going to and from work if you are a critical employee
  • Seeking medical care
  • Caring for dependents or pets
  • Caring for a vulnerable person in another location
  • Cannabis and liquor stores will remain open 
  • Or participating in outdoor recreation at a legally-mandated safe distance of six feet or more from other parties

Read the full order here. Read the FAQ here. Read the public health order here. Watch the press conference here

Colorado continues facing a shortage of resources in addressing this pandemic, which is why the Governor sent a letter to the Trump administration urging the president to declare a Major Disaster for the State of Colorado. A major disaster declaration would free up resources for medical care, housing, unemployment assistance, crisis counseling, hazard mitigation and more. California, Washington and New York have received these declarations. Read the request here. 

While the state is facing a shortage of resources, Coloradans are stepping up to try and fill the gap. More than 7,000 Coloradans have already signed up to volunteer on www.helpcoloradonow.org, nearly 1,300 of which have medical training. The Colorado COVID Relief Fund has also raised more than $7 million since launching late last week. 

Gov. Polis requested and received dual-status commander authority to ensure unity of command, allowing regular, federal military units to be controlled by a single commander representing the Governor. This will help to eliminate confusion and conflict and allow the state to streamline the utilization of military personnel in this response.

The Governor announced that the state lab has eliminated its backlog and there will be new labs coming online at the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, University Hospital, and Children’s Hospital. The Governor thanked CSU and CU for their willingness to test the personal protective equipment the private sector is ramping up that the state needs now. 

Governor Polis also provided an update on the federal stimulus package which included $377 billion for small business loans and grants, $1200 in direct cash assistance to Americans based on income eligibility.

The Governor also provided an update on the Innovation Response Team, introducing two new members: Lucy Sanders and Tim Miller. Lucy is the CEO and a co-founder of the National Center for Women & Information Technology and will head up Isolation Services. The objective is to provide people who are in self-isolation or home quarantine with critical supplies like food and access to health care, and also ancillary services to make their at-home experience as comfortable as possible. Tim Miller is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rally Software and will head the Software Development Team. The objective is to build applications and web sites for both government and citizens to manage all aspects of the crisis, and provide the state with key data. 

The Governor also noted that the Innovation Response Team is working as hard as they can to identify manufacturers and supply chains, but urged the private sector to help in this effort.

March 24, 2020

Positive Cases for COVID-19 in Residents of La Plata County Tested at SJBPH’s Community Testing Site

Archuleta and La Plata counties, Colo.: San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) has received notification of three positive cases of COVID-19 in adult residents of La Plata County who were tested at SJBPH’s community testing site last week. This is in addition to the initial positive case announced by SJBPH on March 23 and makes a total of four positive cases.

Investigation of these results indicates the virus is being transmitted by community spread. Community spread means at least one of the individuals is believed to have acquired the disease locally rather than from outside the community. This indicates that transmission of the virus is accelerating in the community.

SJBPH is already performing public health best practice steps for disease investigation, including contact tracing. Once someone is confirmed as infected with a virus, contacts are identified by asking about the person’s activities and the activities of the people around them since the onset of the infectious period. All known contacts are identified and informed of their contact status, and the importance of receiving early care if they develop symptoms. Contacts will also be provided with information about prevention of the disease. In some cases, quarantine or isolation is required for high risk contacts, either at home or in hospital.

Contact tracing by this method protects the privacy rights of patients in accordance with federal law, and details of the individuals’ whereabouts or contacts during the presumed infectious period will not be publicly shared by SJBPH. Individuals who are believed to have had contact with an infected person will be directly contacted by SJBPH staff.

“San Juan Basin Public Health expected that positive cases would result from the community testing conducted last week and we imagine we will see more cases in the days to come,” said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon. “All residents of Archuleta and La Plata Counties are urged to make responsible choices to protect our community and stay at home,” she said. Today the SJBPH Board of Health was informed of new cases with community transmission. SJBPH is considering additional disease control measures.

After today, SJBPH’s website will be updated with case counts once daily at 5 p.m.

For the most up to date information visit SJBPH’s website: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/ 

Other helpful resources: 

March 23, 2020

Gov. Polis Announces the in-person workforce cut by 50% 

Ordering Colorado Employers To Reduce In-Person Workforce by Fifty Percent Due to the Presence of COVID-19 in the State

On Sunday March 22nd, Governor Polis issued Executive Order D2020-013 ordering Colorado non critical-workplaces to reduce in-person workforce by fifty percent due to the presence of COVID-19 in the State. The order directs all Colorado employers to implement tele-work capabilities to the greatest extent possible. If tele-work is not practical or possible, the Governor encourages employers to stagger work schedules to reduce the proximity of workers during work hours and to keep employees on payroll as we endure this temporary disruption to commerce together. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) issued a public health order defining critical emergency personnel, infrastructure, government functions, and other activities that are exempt from the directives in this Executive Order. For more information on what this order means for you, please see below.


About the Order:
When does the order take effect?
The order will take effect Tuesday, March 24rd at 8:00AM

When does the order end?
The order is set to last through 11:59 PM on Friday, April 10th, 2020 unless extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing.

Why is the Order necessary?
On March 5, 2020, CDPHE’s public health laboratory confirmed the first presumptive positive COVID-19 test result in Colorado. Since then, the number of confirmed cases has continued to climb. We all need to take these precautions for the preservation of public health and safety throughout the entire State and to ensure our healthcare delivery system can serve those who are sick.

The intent of this Order is to reduce the amount of people congregating in workplaces at one time in order to reduce the proximity of people in the workplace, while enabling the services, businesses, and travel necessary to protect public health and safety, and for the continuity of social and commercial life pursuant to the public health goal of saving lives.

Where does the 50% order apply?
The Governor’s executive order includes the entire state.
Does not apply to critical business. Although this order does not apply to critical business they are encouraged to observe social distancing to the extent possible.
Does not apply to any employer that can certify that employees are no closer than six feet from one another during any part of their work hours. Governor Polis directed CDPHE to develop and issue a certification method, with appropriate penalties for supplying false information, that allows employers to demonstrate that they are in compliance with this directive.

Is this mandatory or just guidance?
This order is MANDATORY.

What does the 50% order do?

For Businesses:
 - Directs Colorado employers to reduce their in-person work forces by fifty percent. This can be done through multiple strategies such as enabling telecommuting, rotating shifts, and staggering work schedules.
 - Directs all Colorado employers to implement tele-work capabilities to the greatest extent possible.
 - If tele-work is not practical or possible, the Governor encourages employers to stagger work schedules to reduce the proximity of workers during work hours and to keep employees on payroll as we endure this temporary disruption to commerce together.

For Employees:
 - Encouraged to practice social distancing outside of their employment and to only engage in activities or perform tasks critical to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members.
 - People at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick should not leave their residence except as necessary to receive medical care
 - Individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate until their symptoms cease or until they have a negative test result.

Enforcement
How will this order be enforced?
 - This EO makes this the law, therefore breaking this is breaking the law. We all must do our part. Success depends on all of us doing our part. This calls upon voluntary compliance by all affected. Enforcement of public health orders has been given to Local Law enforcement and State Law enforcement has plans in place to assist and support in any way requested, but the idea is to gain compliance voluntarily. That is something that is reserved only for the most aggravated circumstances. This is a measure that we all must do our part to achieve to save lives.

Will the Colorado National Guard be enforcing this order?
 - No. The Colorado National Guard will be supporting logistics, transportation, and medical response efforts. The Guard will not be enforcing this order.

What is a Critical Business or Operation Under the Order? These are the businesses that will be open:

1. Healthcare Operations, Including:
hospitals, clinics, and walk-in health facilities medical and dental care, including ambulatory providers research and laboratory services medical wholesale and distribution home health care companies, workers and aides pharmacies pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies behavioral health care providers including crisis services veterinary care and livestock services nursing homes, residential health care, or congregate care facilities medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers, including durable medical equipment technicians and suppliers.

This does NOT include health clubs as defined in C.R.S. § 6-1-102(4.6), fitness
and exercise gyms, and similar facilities

All medical, dental and veterinary care provided pursuant to this Order must comply with the directives set forth in Executive Order D 2020 009.

2. Critical Infrastructure, Including:
utilities including power generation, fuel supply and transmission oil and gas production field operations public water and wastewater telecommunications and data centers transportation and infrastructure necessary to support authorized businesses hotels, and places of accommodation businesses and organizations that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged, persons with access and/or functional needs, or otherwise vulnerable individuals food and plant cultivation, including farming crops, livestock, food processing and manufacturing, animal feed and feed products, rendering, commodity sales, and any other work critical to the operation of any component of the food supply chain

3. Critical Manufacturing, Including:
food processing, manufacturing agents, including all foods and beverages
chemicals medical equipment supplies or instruments pharmaceuticals sanitary products telecommunications microelectronics/semiconductor agriculture/farmshousehold paper products any business that produces products critical or incidental to the processing, functioning, development, manufacture, or delivery of any of the categories of products included in this part

4. Critical Retail, Including:
grocery stores including all food and beverage stores farm and produce stands
gas stations and convenience stores restaurants/bars (for take-out/delivery only as authorized under Public Health Order 20-22, as amended) marijuana dispensary, but only for the sale of medical marijuana or curbside delivery pursuant to Executive Order D 2020 011hardware, farm supply, and building material stores establishments engaged in the retail sale of food and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products)

5. Critical Services, Including:

News Media, trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal, mail and shipping services, and locations that offer PO boxes laundromats and drycleaning services building cleaning and maintenance child care services (following the requirements outlined in Exemptions below) auto supply and repair (including retail dealerships that include repair and maintenance, provided that retail activity ceases) warehouse/distribution and fulfillment funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemeteries in-person pastoral services for individuals who are in crisis or in need of end of life services provided social distancing is observed to the greatest extent possible storage for critical businesses animal shelters, animal rescues, zoological facilities, animal sanctuaries, and other related facilities, newspapers, television, radio and other media services

7. Financial Institutions, Including:
Banks and credit institutions, insurance, payroll, and accounting services, services related to financial markets

8. Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations, Including:
homeless shelters and congregate care facilities food banks human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs; the care, protection, custody and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities; those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support

9. Construction, Including:
Defense especially for housing and housing for low-income and vulnerable people
skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers other related firms and professionals for who provide services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and critical operation of residences defense and security-related operations supporting the State of Colorado, local government, the U.S. Government or a contractor to either or all.

10. Critical Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and critical Operations of Residences or Other critical Businesses, Including:
law enforcement, fire prevention and response, building code enforcement
security, emergency management and response, building cleaners or janitors
general maintenance whether employed by the entity directly or a vendor
automotive repair, snow removal

11. Vendors that Provide Critical Services or Products, Including Logistics and Technology Support, Child Care and Services:
logistics, technology support for online and telephone services, child care programs and services, government owned or leased buildings, critical government services

12. “Critical Government Functions” means providing, operating, and supporting:
a. Critical services, including
i. public safety (police stations, fire and rescue stations, correctional institutions,
emergency vehicle and equipment storage, and, emergency operation centers);
ii. emergency response;
iii. judicial branch operations
iv. emergency medical (hospitals, ambulance service centers, urgent care centers
having emergency treatment functions, and non-ambulatory surgical structures but excluding clinics, doctors offices, and non-urgent care medical structures that do not provide these functions);
v. designated emergency shelters;
vi. communications (main hubs for telephone, broadcasting equipment for cable
systems, satellite dish systems, cellular systems, television, radio, and other emergency warning systems, but excluding towers, poles, lines, cables, and conduits);
vii. Public utility plant facilities for generation and distribution (hubs, treatment plants, substations and pumping stations for water, power and gas, but not including towers, poles, power lines, buried pipelines, transmission lines, distribution lines, and service lines); and
viii. transportation lifelines (public transportation, transportation infrastructure, airports (municipal and larger), helicopter pads and structures serving emergency functions, and associated infrastructure (aviation control towers, air traffic control centers, and emergency equipment aircraft hangars);
ix. hazardous material safety;
x. services to at-risk and vulnerable populations:;
xi. any government service required for the public health and safety, government functionality, or vital to restoring normal services.

What will be open during the duration of the order?

Will grocery stores be open?
Yes, essential services will still be operational including, but not limited to:

o Grocery stores
o Gas stations
o Pharmacies
o Police stations
o Fire stations
o Hospitals, clinics and healthcare operations o Garbage/sanitation
o Public transportation
o Public benefits (i.e. SNAP, Medicaid) hotlines

Can I order food/groceries?
Yes, grocery delivery will be available as well as meal-delivery, drive through, and take-out options.

Will liquor and cannabis stores be open?
Yes. Items will on before sale only for off site consumption and while purchasing social distancing should be practiced.

Healthcare:
How can I get medical care if I need it?
If you are feeling sick, call your doctor, a nurse hotline, any telehealth hotline set up specifically for COVID-19 (check with your insurance company) or an urgent care center.If you are experiencing symptoms or are currently in isolation, you should stay at home and follow the guidelines provided by your physician. Do not go to an emergency room unless necessary. Nonessential medical care like eye exams and teeth-cleaning should be postponed. When possible, healthcare visits should be done remotely. Contact your healthcare provider to see what tele-health services they provide.

Can I get a prescription filled or other healthcare needs?
Yes. Pharmacies and other medical services will remain open. You should request for your prescriptions to be delivered to your home if that is possible.

Transportation:
Will public transportation and ride sharing be available?
Public transportation and ride sharing should be used for essential travel only. When possible, walk or drive yourself.

Will roads be closed?
No, the roads will not be closed. You should only travel if it is essential to your work or health.

Can I take a flight out of state?
Planes and any other form of travel should only be used for essential purposes.

What if my home is not a safe environment?
If it is not safe for you to remain home, you are able and urged to find another safe place to stay during this order. Please reach out so we can help. You may call the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or contact your local law enforcement.

What About Vulnerable and Children Populations?
What about homeless people who can’t stay at home?
The administration wants to protect the health and safety of all Coloradans, regardless of where they live. State agencies are partnering with community organizations to provide funding and resources to ensure our homeless population has safe shelter.

The Department of Local Affairs is working on getting a list of Cold Weather Shelters in the Balance of State Continuum of Care with; Contact info, Locations, Bed counts, Closing Dates.

In addition DOLA is working with state and local partners who provide services to our unhoused Coloradans through a statewide homeless taskforce. The first meeting is Monday, March 23, 2020 1-2pm.
HUD has also developed an Infectious Disease Toolkit for Continuums of Care (CoC) to prepare for and manage the spread of infectious disease in shelters.
Finally, DOLA, CDPHE and other partner agencies have created guidance for homeless care providers that is posted on the COVID-19 website.
Can I leave home to take care of an elderly or sick family member or friend?
Yes. Please be sure to practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. Elderly people and people with suppressed immune systems are at heightened risk for contracting COVID-19.

Does this order mean I can’t take my kids to the park?
 - State parks will be open. Families will still be able to go outside, including to local parks and outdoor spaces that remain open, and take a walk, run, or bike ride but should continue to practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from other people. Playground equipment should be avoided.

Is child care open?
 - Licensed child care remains open under specific guidance from public health. We are working to ensure all essential workers have access to childcare services so are licensing new centers and those that may have closed, on an emergency basis, to ensure there are enough spots for the children of essential workers. For urgent child care needs, contact 2-1-1.

Can I pick up meals being provided by my child’s school?
 - Yes. Schools that provide free food services to students will continue on a pick-up and take-home basis.

Pets
What about my pet?
Pet supply stores and veterinary services will remain open. You are allowed to walk your dog and seek medical care for your pet should they require it. Be sure to practice social distancing while out on walks, maintaining at least 6 feet from other neighbors and their pets.

##

San Juan Basin Public Health Issues 'Stay at Home' Advisory

Durango, Colo.: Please see below for San Juan Basin Public Health’s (SJBPH) ‘Stay at Home’ Advisory. Through the advisory, SJBPH reaffirms statewide orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition, SJBPH urges all residents to do their part by staying at home unless it is essential.

*PUBLIC HEALTH STAY AT HOME ADVISORY*

 

AN ADVISORY OF THE HEALTH OFFICER FOR
LA PLATA AND ARCHULETA COUNTIES

RECITALS:

WHEREAS, there is significant consensus that COVID-19 resulted in a world-wide pandemic and local disaster emergency as evidenced by the following:

  • On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 a “public health emergency of international concern;”
  • On January 31, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services declared the virus a public health emergency;
  • On February 26, 2020, the CEO of USJHSD activated USJHSD’s emergency operations plan for a pandemic;
  • On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic;
  • On March 11, 2020, the Governor of Colorado issued Executive Order D 2020-003 declaring Colorado a state of disaster emergency due to the presence of COVID-19 in Colorado;
  • On March 12, 2020, the CEO of USJHSD activated its Incident Command as part of its emergency operations plan to prepare and respond to the pandemic;
  • On March 13, 2020 the President of the United States issued a Proclamation that the “COVID-19 outbreak constitutes a national emergency;”
  • On March 16, 2020, the Executive Director of San Juan Basin Public Health, the public health district for Archuleta and La Plata counties, declared a local disaster emergency for its entire district for a period up to seven days, and on March 17, 2020 the Board of Public Health for the San Juan Basin Public Health consented to the continuation of the declaration of local disaster emergency for so long as is necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic as determined by its Executive Director or Board;
  • On March 16, 2020, the County Administrator of La Plata County declared a local disaster emergency for a period of up to seven days and on March 17, 2020, the Board of County Commissioners adopted Resolution 2020-16 extended the local disaster emergency declaration until such time as the Board determines the disaster emergency has terminated through adoption of a resolution declaring such;
  • On March 16, 2020, the County Administrator of Archuleta County declared a local disaster emergency and on March 17, 2020, the Board of County Commissioners adopted Resolution 2020-95 extending the Declaration of a Local Disaster through April 21, 2020;
  • On March 16, 2020, the Interim City Manager of the City of Durango declared an emergency for a period of up to seven days and on March 17, 2020, the City Council ratified the emergency disaster declaration and continued until further action of the Council;
  • On March 16, 2020, the Mayor of the Town of Pagosa Springs declared a local disaster emergency for a period of up to seven days and on March 19, 2020, the Town Council consented to a continuation of the declaration of local disaster emergency;
  • During the week of March 16, 2020, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe ceased nonessential tribal governmental operations due to COVID-19 and on March 22, 2020 ordered the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to modify tribal government services and business operations effective March 23, 2020;
  • On March 19, 2020, the Board of Trustees of the Town of Ignacio adopted Resolution 05-2020 Declaring a State of Emergency for the Town of Ignacio.

WHEREAS, the virus that causes COVID-19 can easily be spread through person-to-person contact and the risk of transmission is higher when people are in close proximity; and

WHEREAS, as of March 22, 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has confirmed 591 cases of COVID-19 within the State of Colorado and public health experts anticipate that, due to the contagiousness of the illness and the fact that numerous travelers from around the world visit the Health District, La Plata and Archuleta counties are at higher risk of COVID-19 spread; and

WHEREAS, in the absence of immunization or specific treatment, the Health Officer has determined that social distancing is the best tool currently available to slow the spread of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, as of March 22, 2020, Colorado State Governor Jared Polis has issued the following public health and executive orders in order to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER 20-20 RESTRICTING VISITORS AT ALL COLORADO SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES, ASSISTED LIVING RESIDENCES AND INTERMEDIATE CARE FACILITIES, issued March 12, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-004, Ordering Closure of Downhill Ski Resorts Due to the Presence of COVID-19 in the State of Colorado, issued on March 14, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-005, Directing State Parties and Secretary of State to Amend Rules Regarding In-Person Gatherings to all the 2020 Primary Election to Proceed without Interruption, in light of the Disaster Declaration set forth in Executive Order D 2020 003, issued on March 16, 2020;
  • NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER 20-22 CLOSING BARS, RESTAURANTS, THEATERS, AND CASINOS STATEWIDE, issued on March 16, 2020 
  • AMENDED NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER 20-22 CLOSING BARS, RESTAURANTS, THEATERS, GYMNASIUMS, CASINOS, NONESSENTIAL PERSONAL SERVICES FACILITIES, AND RACETRACK AND OFF-TRACK PARI-MUTUEL WAGERING FACILITIES STATEWIDE, issued on March 18, 2020;
  • NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER 20-23 IMPLEMENTING SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES, issued on March 18, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-006, Amending Executive Order D 2020 004 Ordering Closure of Downhill Ski Areas Due to the Presence of COVID-19 in the State of Colorado, in Light of the Disaster Declaration Set Forth in Executive Order D 2020 003, issued on March 18, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-007, Ordering Suspension of Normal In-Person Instruction at All Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools in the State of Colorado Due to the Presence of COVID-19, issued March 18, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-008, Amending Executive Order D 2020 005 to Limit In-Person Contact Concerning Elections and the Secretary of State’s Operations, in light of the Disaster Declaration set forth in Executive Order D 2020 003, issued on March 18, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-009, Ordering the Temporary Cessation of All Elective and Non-Essential Surgeries and Procedures and Preserving Personal Protective Equipment and Ventilators in Colorado Due to the Presence of COVID-19, issued March 19, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-010, Ordering the Suspension of Statute to Extend the Income Tax Payment Deadlines Due to the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency, issued March 20, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-011, Ordering the Temporary Suspension of Certain Regulatory Statutes Due to the Presence of COVID-19, issued March 20, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-012, Limiting Evictions, Foreclosures, and Public Utility Disconnections and Expediting Unemployment Insurance Claim Processing to Provide Relief to Coloradans Affected by COVID-19, issued March 20, 2020;
  • EXECUTIVE ORDER D 2020-013, Ordering Colorado Employers to Reduce In-Person Workforce by Fifty Percent Due to the Presence of COVID-19 in the State, issued March 22, 2020. 

WHEREAS, this STAY AT HOME ADVISORY may be amended as additional State Orders are issued.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

 1. The Health Officer for San Juan Basin Public Health hereby reaffirms that there is a local public health disaster emergency within the Health District, that immediate and drastic measures are necessary to mitigate the imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property resulting from the COVID-19 virus.

 2. San Juan Basin Public Health, as a political subdivision of the State of Colorado, charged with protecting public health within the Health District, endorses the Public Health and Executive Orders listed above and urges other political subdivisions within the Health District to take immediate action to comply with the Orders.

 3. The effect of this Advisory shall be to urge our community members to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and STAY AT HOME to every extent possible – especially if you are among the high risk category, to limit non-essential activities of daily life, and to minimize and prevent social contact.  Those who exhibit symptoms must isolate themselves so as not to infect others.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Advisory shall be effective upon the date and time given below and shall remain in effect until it is no longer necessary as deemed by the Health Officer.

SAN JUAN BASIN PUBLIC HEALTH

Date: _3/23/2020_

By: _____Liane Jollon______

  Liane Jollon, Executive Director and Health Officer

March 18, 2020

Resources from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment 

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has a variety of resources for workers and employers who are impacted by the Coronavirus.

Resources for Workers

Paid sick leave:

Workers in certain industries are eligible for up to four days of paid sick leave when experiencing flu-like symptoms AND awaiting test results for COVID-19. The covered industries are:  leisure and hospitality; food services; child care; education, including transportation, food service, and related work at educational establishments; home health, if working with elderly, disabled, ill, or otherwise high-risk individuals and; nursing homes and community living facilities.

Read our FAQs

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Resources for Employees Whose Employers are Closed or Working Fewer Hours

If you work for a ski resort or other employer that closed or reduced your hours to help stop the spread of COVID-19, you can file or reopen an unemployment claim. Go to coloradoui.gov/fileaclaim.

Read our FAQs (last updated 03-16-20)

Helpful Facts About Unemployment Insurance Benefits (PDF)

Datos Útiles Acerca de los Beneficios de Desempleo (PDF)

For more information about unemployment insurance benefits, go to colorodoui.gov.

Resources for Employers

Alternatives to Laying off Your Employees

The Division of Unemployment Insurance offers a Work-Share Program as an alternative to laying off your employees. Visit the website to see if your business qualifies.

##

Board of Health Ratifies SJBPH Health Officer's Declaration of a Local Disaster Emergency 

Durango, Colo.: The San Juan Basin Public Health Board has declared that without an appropriate response, the spread of the COVID-19 virus could result in increased numbers of cases and serious illness or death for more vulnerable community members.  Yesterday, SJBPH’s Board of Health met in an open session and adopted Resolution 2020-003, which ratified the agency’s Health Officer’s Declaration of a Local Disaster Emergency (Declaration 2020-001, issued on March 16, 2020) and consented to continue the Declaration for so long as is necessary as determined by its Health Officer or the Board in order to stem the presence of COVID-19 in the Health District as an imminent threat to the health and wellbeing of Archuleta and La Plata county residents and visitors. 

For the most up to date information, visit SJBPH’s website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

March 16, 2020

Declaration of Public Health Emergency and Closures

Visit Durango understands the COVID-19 public health crisis poses incredibly difficult financial challenges to our industry partners and threatens the livelihoods of our business community and residents. The safety and wellbeing of our visitors, residents and industry partners remains our highest priority. We will continue to work with public health and travel organizations to keep you informed about Colorado travel and public health. 

The travel industry’s guiding principle is to seek and heed the most up-to-date expert guidance. While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Durango/La Plata County and no travel restrictions in place for the USA, Colorado is experiencing community spread of the disease. 

Therefore Visit Durango joins Governor Polis, San Juan Basin Public Health, and the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) in taking measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Colorado Impact as of March 16, 10am:

  • On March 10, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency to protect public health and our vulnerable populations and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

  • On Saturday, March 14, Polis issued an executive order mandating the closing of ski resorts.

  • On March 15, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, recommended that event organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.

  • The Colorado Tourism Office is suspending operations for all 10 Colorado Welcome Centers effective Monday, March 16, through March 22. 

  • Flights to and from the Durango – La Plata County Airport are currently operating per normal schedules. 

Durango/La Plata County Closures as of March 16, 10am:

  • Durango Welcome Center is closed, effective Monday, March 16 until further notice. 

  • Purgatory Resort is closed March 15 - March 22, due to an executive order by Gov. Polis suspending downhill ski area operations for one week.

  • City of Durango facility closures effective Monday, March 16 and will be in effect through April 7, 2020:

    • Durango Community Recreation Center

    • Chapman Hill

    • Durango Gymnastics

    • Durango Public Library

  • Fort Lewis College classes are cancelled and moving to online after spring break

  • The Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College has suspended scheduled shows through April 8, 2020.

Talking Points for Visitors 

There are several things people should consider when deciding whether it is safe to travel. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may choose to delay or cancel your plans. If you decide to travel, be sure to practice precautions to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases during travel. 

What is Visit Durango doing to support industry partners? 

Visit Durango is working with community leaders including the City of Durango, Downtown Business Improvement District (BID), the Chamber, and others to identify ways to support our community during this incredibly challenging situation. 

On Friday, Visit Durango and BID created a campaign to encourage ways to support our favorite Durango businesses: https://www.downtowndurango.org/covid19. BID is promoting the campaign via radio ads and social media posts, and we will continue to re-evaluate based on this rapidly evolving situation. Feel free to share this message on your own social media and marketing channels.

  • BID is compiling a list of businesses that offer gift cards, take out, or online shopping. Please send your business details to TimW@downtowndurango.org

  • Visit Durango is compiling a list of businesses with adjusted and/or flexible cancellation policies on our website. Please send your updated cancellation policy changes to cassie@durango.org to be included.  

  • Local stakeholders are meeting on Monday, March 16 to identify other ways to support the business community and residents.

  • We are also in the process of planning our recovery for a strong comeback once the threat of COVID-19 recedes. 

*Other Resources

Visit Durango’s web page for up-to-date local information: https://www.durango.org/plan/coronavirus/

For more information about impacts to the Colorado Travel industry, please visit https://industry.colorado.com/what-know-about-covid-19-and-colorado-travel 

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel webpage: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 Info: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus

San Juan Basin Public Health for local alerts in Durango/La Plata County: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/

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