County Update: Working together amid pandemic
In Routt County, we are entering a fifth month of grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Most everything about our lives has been turned upside down and inside out.
Businesses shuttered and some partially reopened, schools closed with kids and families stuck at home, friends and family separated, and some of our neighbors contracted the virus and a few even died. Everything we took for granted about our lives and our community has changed in ways that we can’t yet fully grasp.
Jobs and income have vanished; businesses, years in the making, have been pushed to the brink of failure; and a critical year in the education of our children, interrupted. Perhaps hardest of all, our critical bonds of family, friendship and community have been strained by necessary isolation and separation.
Fortunately, Routt County residents are resilient. When the novel coronavirus arrived here, we came together as a community and took the necessary steps to limit its spread. We stayed at home, limited our contacts and socially distanced. And yes, we put on face coverings, not to protect ourselves as individuals, but to protect each other.
While this has been a long haul, we are beginning to see the fruits of our efforts. State orders have been eased, businesses are slowly coming back to life, and we are seeing visitors and tourists coming here supporting our local economy. Parents can look forward to school reopening in the fall, and our kids will hopefully be able to resume their education and activities.
Here at the county, our staff has continued throughout to provide the critical services our residents need and deserve. Roads have been plowed and maintained, Routt County Clerk and Recorder’s office just successfully conducted a primary election, and our Human Services Department has met vastly increased needs of folks in these trying times. The Routt County Regional Building Department has kept up with a surprisingly strong demand for building permits, our Planning Department continues to process applications, and our Yampa Valley Regional Airport has maintained a reduced flight schedule, while supporting private flight operations.
Our Emergency Management Department has coordinated Routt County’s response to the pandemic, providing logistical support to our Public Health Department, including procurement of personal protective equipment, hospital surge capacity and COVID-19 test supplies and locations. Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and his deputies never missed a beat in protecting public safety and managing our detention facility, all with the support of our Emergency Communications Department.
Ironically, our newest department is Public Health. It was little over a year ago we transitioned from contracting for public health services to self-performing most of these functions, including vital statistics, health education, public health improvement planning and of course, disease surveillance and response.
Led by Director of Routt County Public Health Kari Ladrow and supported by Routt County Public Health Medical Officer Dr. Brian Harrington and our Environmental Health Department, Routt County Public Health’s response to the pandemic has been nothing short of heroic.
The work of our public health nurses and contact tracers in administering tests, tracing contacts and quarantining exposed individuals is working to keep the virus under control allowing us to incrementally reopen our economy and slowly get back to normal.
We have successfully avoided a surge in cases affecting other states, and we will overcome this virus locally by observing the 5 Commitments to Containment, working together and doing things the Routt County way.
Tim Corrigan serves on the Routt County Board of Commissioners.
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