BOCC: take precautions to limit COVID-19 spread

Simple actions, personal responsibility will help limit spread of illness

July 2, 2020

The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) requests residents and visitors take simple actions and personal responsibility to help limit the spread of COVID-19, which tests have confirmed in greater numbers around the county in recent weeks.

The county is not able to enter the less restrictive “Protect Our Neighbors” phase of reopening, due to increasing cases of COVID locally.

“With the governor’s latest health orders, all businesses could open with social distancing plans,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “We are advocating for local control to open our businesses 100 percent, but we won’t be able to meet the criteria if we cannot lower our case count. We all can help us achieve this if we practice safety measures.”

“Be assured, we as county commissioners are doing all we can to get these variances approved and Garfield County opened up,” added Commissioner Mike Samson.

Garfield County Public Health has coined a new motto: “More masks, more distance, more business,” and the board is urging all residents to maintain social distancing, wearing face coverings – per the governor’s order, wash your hands frequently, and to remain at home if you feel ill (do not go to work if you are sick) or have been near someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. These simple actions can help to limit the spread of the virus, keep people safe and facilitate the reopening of the economy.

A variance request was approved by the state May 23, allowing restaurants, houses of worship, fitness facilities and gyms to re-open at 50 percent of the posted occupancy code limit, provided they meet safety requirements. “The county’s variances could be in jeopardy if case numbers continue to rise,” said Commissioner John Martin. “As a statutory county government, we must follow the lead of the state.”

“We know that some folks don’t like wearing masks, but the use of facial coverings while in public establishments is the best way to ensure our businesses remain open,” added Jankovsky.

In a short time, the county has gone from a low case count to a high amount of cases. Garfield County has experienced 299 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. To be able to move into the less restrictive Protect Our Neighbors phase, the county would have to meet an extensive set of criteria and demonstrate that viral spread is low, as low as 15 cases in a 14-day period. In the most recent 14-day period there were 42 cases.

“The most concerning statistic is that six of our recent cases required hospitalization in hospitals outside of the County.” The increase in cases is a trend we must reverse,” Jankovsky said. “We’ve seen a cluster of cases within construction crews that were working together. Contact tracing took place to ensure that anyone that may have been around these individuals was aware, so potential spread could be limited.”

A construction site in Rifle voluntarily halted construction for two weeks due to COVID-19 cases in its work crews.

While COVID-19 can affect anyone, especially the more vulnerable population, which includes the elderly and people with underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung conditions, obesity or a weakened immune system, most of the new cases are in people ranging from 20 to 59 years old.

According to public health statistics, roughly half of the county’s cases are appearing in Latino or Hispanic families (49 percent), and many cases in the region are people working in the
construction and food service industries. Fatigue and cough are the two most common symptoms, followed by body aches, sore throat, fever and headache.

“Make no mistake, this illness doesn’t discriminate by age, and anyone could contract COVID-19. We want everyone to do their part and help us combat the spread of the virus,” Jankovsky said. “COVID-19 is contagious, virulent and aggressive.”

“Let’s get our numbers on the decline. We’re all in this together and together we’ll get by,” added Martin.

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