Routt County health officials believe peak of positive COVID-19 cases will be reached this month
Commissioners seek stronger measures to further limit spread, eyeing out-of-county travelers and construction
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County health officials on Saturday, April 4, suggested the apex of local positive COVID-19 cases will come later this month.
Modeling from various academic sources has led the Routt County Board of Health to believe the county will reach its highest number of infected patients around April 19.
Predictive modeling utilizes many different data points, including stay-at-home orders, hospital beds and ventilators on hand and other specific requirements made of the general public to limit spread. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington is one source that has made such predictions for planning purposes.
With a little more than two weeks left before reaching that timeframe, the Board of Health has decided stronger measures are needed to contain the spread within the county.
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The county’s Board of Health, made up of the three county commissioners, heard from the Routt County Public Health Department, the Routt County Regional Building Department and from over 100 community comments on Saturday morning. The board directed staff to offer recommendations that could be quickly implemented to address the two concerns brought up by the health department — close contact of construction workers and workers who travel in and out of the county.
“We are seeing hotspots from places where people are in close contact or travel back and forth,” Director of Routt County Public Health Kari Ladrow said.
Ladrow suggested conducting limited testing at local construction sites would help the department understand if such locations pose a greater threat to public health.
Routt County Public Health Medical Officer Dr. Brian Harrington said the county should also focus on the risks from workers who travel in and out of the county.
“We have stay-at-home orders from the state, education facilities are closed, we shut down nonessential services, and now, we really need to look at the travel component, those people leaving and returning to the county,” Harrington said.
Last week, the public health department issued guidance to the construction industry concerning best practices and safety requirements, which included a mandate that contractors file a COVID-19 site plan with the county.
Routt County Building Director Todd Carr reported Saturday that his department had received over 100 of the required COVID-19 site plans from local contractors.
“We want to thank the construction community for their partnership in this effort to contain the COVID-19 process,” Carr said. “Our local contractors do not believe they share the same threat level as those from outside of our area. Additionally, these local contractors are all residential contractors for the most part, and they are able to keep five or less workers on every job site.”
Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton wondered if the county should stipulate some type of limitation that reduces people coming in and out of the county on a regular basis.
“Maybe we create an order that is not industry specific,” she said.
The commissioners asked staff to submit their recommendations by Monday, April 6, in time to discuss and potentially adopt during the Board of Health’s meeting Wednesday, April 8.
As of Sunday, April 5, Routt County has had 29 positive cases of COVID-19, with 16 people having recovered and a total of 335 tests conducted.
To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.
Before immediately heading to the hospital, people who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 have several resources, including:
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is providing a phone line to answer questions from the public about COVID-19. Call CO-Help at 303-389-1687 or 877-462-2911 or email email@example.com for answers in English and Spanish, Mandarin and more.
- UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center offers Ask-A-Nurse, a 24/7 call line staffed by registered nurses who can assess symptoms and provide advice on seeking care. In Routt County, Ask-A-Nurse can be reached by calling 970-871-7878.
- Virtual Visits can be done from the comfort of your home and only require a computer or tablet with a working webcam, speakers and microphone, or a smartphone.
- If patients are experiencing severe symptoms or having difficulty breathing, they should visit the hospital’s emergency department.
Take precautions in everyday life:
- Frequently and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or use your inner elbow or sleeve.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home if you’re sick and keep your children home if they are sick.
- Clean surfaces in your home and personal items such as cell phones, using regular household products.
- Be calm but be prepared.
- Employees at businesses and customers are required to wear a mask, according to a Routt County public health order.
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