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COVID-19 HHRC Update: The Path Ahead Through This COVID-19 Natural Disaster

October 14, 2020 10:00 am

Information shared from Grand Country Public Health

The Path Ahead Through This COVID-19 Natural Disaster

We know it has been a long road and, trust us, we understand how frustrating COVID-19 can be. Here are the facts: 

  • Our two-week case count is the highest it has ever been since the start of this pandemic (52 cases from 9/30-10/13).
  • Hospitalizations are also on the rise with two new hospitalizations in the last two-weeks. 
  • On October 5, our county’s two-week incidence rate moved our county into the “Safe at Home Level 3” level of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Dial Framework.  Since then, our incidence rate has continued to rise and we are now on the fringe of being in the “Stay at Home” level.  

Some may ask, “Why have we not moved into the Safer at Home Level 3 restrictions and capacity limits?”  The reason for not implementing those restrictions is that as part of CDPHE’s Dial Framework, counties are allowed a period of time (about two-weeks) to enact mitigation measures that will help reduce incidence rates and get back in compliance with their original level.  If over the course of the two-week ‘grace period’, counties have not been able to improve their incidence rate, CDPHE may take actions to move the county into a more restrictive level.  

Grand County Public Health has been in discussion with CDPHE about the current disease activity and is developing a mitigation plan. The Board of County Commissioners is also set to meet with CDPHE next week to discuss our trends.  

So how do we move forward? Natural disasters are something that as a county, we understand how to respond to. We know what actions to take in regards to a wildfire. We implement mitigation efforts such as cutting down trees around our house, enacting fire restrictions, and evacuating areas when necessary. These efforts are done all to protect the well-being of our families and communities.  We do these things automatically and without hesitation. 

We need to start viewing the COVID-19 disease and this pandemic as a natural disaster.  We have the information necessary to understand what mitigation efforts need to be implemented. Yet those strategies receive push back and are not being used.  

In our recent outbreak investigations, it has been determined that the causes of transmission are, for the most part, based on three factors; 1) not wearing face masks indoors,  2) going to work when ill, 3) attending multi-family or large gatherings.     

The current high-disease activity is the outcome of irresponsible community behavior.  Public Health has the ability to track, monitor, put in prevention measures and educate the public, but they cannot be in every business and facility in the county making sure that people are following those procedures.  

We all have a choice in what our next few months look like. COVID-19 suppression is a community-wide responsibility. As a community, we have one of two choices. We can come together and practice the 3W’s (wearing our masks, washing our hands, and watching our distance), keep our community open and continue forward with our vital recovery efforts or we can continue on as we have been, loosely following the mitigation strategies in place. However, if the case counts continue to increase, we risk going backwards — to lower capacity limits for restaurants, gyms, offices, events and more. None of us want that. Let’s make the choice to take back control of our path ahead. Do it for yourself and your neighbors. Let’s welcome in our winter season with low disease activity and a robust economy.

To help our businesses, employees, and employers make better decisions about when someone should stay home, go home, return to work, or send a “cohort” home, Grand County Public Health has developed some Business Flowcharts.  Upon first glance, the charts may look a bit confusing and scary.  However, if you start at the top and answer one question at a time with the honest truth, the charts flow quite smoothly and will provide you clear direction.  Check out the flowcharts here.

Grand County Public Health has also heard and taken note of the many public comments regarding our recent update of our county’s COVID-19 Dashboard.  As a result, we have revised it again to provide more intuitive graphs and information.  Please check out the newest rendition of Dashboard here.  Previous dashboards will be deactivated to eliminate confusion and misinformation.