Letter: Together, with everyone doing their part, we’ll get through this
We want to thank you for doing your part in keeping our community safe. The current COVID-19 virus outbreak is disrupting our lives, and we are doing everything we can to protect you and your loved ones. We need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. We will get through this, but we need your help.
As your commissioners, we know that the restrictions implemented by the state and county represent devastating news to our county on many levels — economically, educationally, socially and with our families and friends. But the impact of the COVID-19 crisis will be longer and more severe if we don’t do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.
Earlier this week, we took the extraordinary step to issue two public health orders to stop the spread of the COVID-19. County Medical Officer Dr. Brian Harrington told us that through public health’s contact tracing investigations they “suspect some of the positive cases identified are linked to individuals acquiring the virus while they were outside the county and came back with it. By the same token, local residents may spread the virus when they travel to other areas. If we are going to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we need to limit visitors coming to Routt County and residents traveling outside the county for a period of time and until we get containment.”
We know we normally welcome second homeowners and tourists to our beautiful Yampa Valley, but at this time of crisis, we are imploring people who do not live here to stay home. To address this, we issued our first public health order to restrict new visitors in lodging.
It prohibits any new visitors coming to Routt County and staying in local lodging. The order stops visitors from using short-term lodging like hotels, motels, timeshares, short-term rentals like VRBOs and Airbnbs and campgrounds. While we cannot require second homeowners not to stay in their homes here, we urge our second homeowners to help us protect our small rural community and hospital by staying out of Routt County at this time.
We issued a second order earlier this week to limit public gatherings. On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis issued a new public health order from the state of Colorado that mandates residents to stay home. Individuals may leave their residences only to perform necessary activities. The order is in effect now until April 11, 2020, unless rescinded or amended. (Law enforcement may issue citations and penalties including a fine up to $1,000 and jail up to one year.)
This executive order means Coloradans should not leave their homes except for critical activities including:
• Obtaining food and other household goods including medicine, alcohol and cannabis products
• Going to and from work if you are a critical/essential employee
• Seeking medical care
• Caring for dependents or pets
• Caring for a vulnerable person in another location
• Participating in outdoor recreation at a legally-mandated safe distance of 6 feet or more from other parties
• State parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, and other similar areas conducive to public gathering are closed
Please practice physical distancing at work, outside or any other activity such as shopping. When you do meet people or work in an environment around people outside your household during necessary activities:
• Do not shake hands
• Stay at least 6 feet from each other
• Limit interaction to 10 minutes
• Reduce groups to five or less people
• Wash hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer
• Cover coughs or sneezes in the sleeve or elbow
• Regularly clean high-touch surfaces
We are not immune — COVID-19 is in Routt County. Some who contract the virus have mild or no symptoms, but they can still transmit the disease. The disease is easily spread and can be deadly to some.
Furthermore, the impacts are significant and threaten to undermine the economic stability of many residents and local businesses. The period of the disruption must be reduced by minimizing the spread of the virus. Evidence shows that limiting contact prevents the transmission of COVID-19. Please do your part.
We also want to thank our partners in this effort to help our community. Our Emergency Operations Center includes elected officials and staff from Hayden, Oak Creek and Steamboat Springs, as well as our leaders at the Steamboat Springs Chamber, UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, Steamboat Resort and our many Routt County staff and volunteers.
Together we will get through this.
Routt County commissioners
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