Testing, backcountry access and construction sites among items discussed at special commissioners meeting on COVID-19
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County commissioners discussed a range of COVID-19-related challenges facing elected officials and the community during a special meeting Friday.
No decisions were made, but a considerable number of topics were brought up for discussion, with more questions remaining than answers.
They talked about other towns in Routt County issuing their own emergency declarations, as Hayden did Thursday. Those declarations open the door for potential reimbursement of local resource expenditures by the state and federal governments.
Commissioners discussed the need to carefully document overtime hours worked and record how much of that is directly related to COVID-19 work. Many government employees are working for their normal departments for part of the day and working specifically on COVID-19 issues for part of the day.
After sitting in on a Counties and Commissioners Acting Together meeting, Commissioner Tim Corrigan reported that an official in Boulder County emphasized some of the challenges of reimbursement, saying they are still arguing over $40 million to $60 million in reimbursements from floods six years ago.
“We need to keep the best records we can keep,” said Commissioner Doug Monger.
Corrigan said Boulder County was going to work on a guidebook to share with other counties on navigating the reimbursement process.
Commissioners talked about disputes other counties are having about closing roads and access to public lands and federal versus county jurisdiction.
At this point, commissioners said they, along with the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, were not looking at closing the backcountry — if they even have the authority to do so — but they want to put out stronger messaging to discourage people from creating an additional burden on local resources, including search and rescue teams.
Corrigan discussed lobbying the Governor’s Office to better define “recreating” to keep people from traveling from the Front Range into the mountains. The county is currently being more stringent on public orders in terms of closing down short-term lodging, while “hotels and places of accommodation” remain on the governor’s list of critical infrastructure that can remain open.
On his Facebook page on Friday, Polis put out a message discouraging travel to the mountains.
There was a discussion about the unique testing effort happening in Telluride, where a benefactor is paying for the entire town to take blood tests, which are supposed to provide COVID-19 results in just a few hours.
Corrigan reported the benefactor’s company is talking about selling those tests to other counties at a cost of $21 to $25 a test with a minimum purchase of 10,000 tests.
At that price, commissioners agreed they would wait to see how things go and whether the mass-testing project proved effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
A longer discussion ensued about construction sites and how to define essential construction activities versus construction projects that could be put on hold. They talked about construction sites as potential places where the virus could spread, and the need to require mitigation plans from all contractors on all job sites.
Commissioner Beth Melton advocated for being proactive in communicating with contractors and ensuring that those who are still working are practicing social distancing.
Melton brought forth concerns about the potential for COVID-19 spreading at dorms and areas of communal living. Melton said Steamboat Resort expressed concern to public health officials about residents at The Ponds hanging out in larger groups and the high density in terms of people per unit. Melton said the resort was considering closing the Ponds but was seeking guidance from public health officials.
Commissioners discussed leveraging more local resources to assist the public health department, including Northwest Colorado Health.
At the very end of the meeting, Melton reported growing concern about the vulnerability of Casey’s Pond after officials announced Wednesday that an employee had tested positive. The county is waiting on more test results related to Casey’s Pond, according to officials, and no additional information was made available Friday.
The commissioners, who also serve as the county’s board of health, will meet at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The public can participation in a live audio of the meeting and through written comments.
A new website has been launched to provide data to the public at http://www.covid19routtcounty.com
For COVID-19 related questions in Routt County call 970-871-8444.
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 statewide public health order.
- Limit distance between non-household members to 6 feet when indoors and outdoors.
- The maximum group size for indoor activities is 10.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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More COVID-19 booster shots are getting approved, health officials are saying people can mix or match the brand of these shots, and vaccines for children between 5 and 11 are closer than ever.