Colorado Enters State of Emergency
March 10, 2020 Update – Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency at 9:30 a.m. this morning.
“My top priority as Governor is keeping the people of our state safe. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been hard at work to detect and contain COVID-19 and has been partnering with federal and local health departments,” said the Governor after the 15th “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed in the state. The state of emergency provides:
- access to resources
- legal flexibililty
- protect our most vulnerable communities
- better contain the outbreak
Update: Coronavirus Preparedness in Lake County
by Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
“We are all working collaboratively to make sure that Lake County has what it needs,” stated Dr. Lisa Zwerdlinger in an interview with Leadville Today (LT) yesterday afternoon, March 9. The Chief Medical Officer for Lake County Public Health Agency (LCPH) and St. Vincent Hospital (SVH) as well as her private practice, Rocky Mountain Family Practice (RMFP) had spent part of yesterday participating in a webinar with state officials and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to get the latest information concerning the Coronavirus COVID-19.
From here, that data plugs into the local coordinated effort that also includes the Lake County School District (LCSD), Lake County Office of Emergency Management (LCOEM), and others. While it might read like a complex list, this alphabet soup of agencies is going to be served up with a side of answers and more detailed information from city and county officials this Friday-The-13th of March at the scheduled Town Hall meeting at Lake County High School (LCHS) beginning at 7 p.m.
Readers should note that this public forum will have a virtual component to it. So for those who might be choosing to avoid public gatherings based on their personal health situation, you will be able to participate from your phone or home computer. While those links were not available at the time of this post, Leadville Today is committed to sharing them with readers via social platforms and updating this story when they become available.
But as the Town Hall plan from officials was shared in emails and on social media, so were concerns from Lake County residents, one writing, “given the fact that we get tourists from all over the country and world and many of our residents travel overseas, I’m not really buying that our risk is low. All it takes is one. I would like to hear their plans should a case develop here. Are closures, quarantines and lockdowns in the plans? I can only assume so.”
Other concerns were raised about the location and format of the meeting: “Why would they have a town hall meeting about a contagious virus in the cafeteria of the high school? It’s inviting trouble into schools!” (note: LCSD’s spring break officially begins next week).
These – and more – are all valid concerns and by this Friday, public health officials have stated they will be prepared to answer the growing list of questions. And, they plan to do it virtually. This will be a first, but it supports the narrative that “we have had both practical experiences as well as training sessions, and each time that happens, our coordinated efforts get a little bit better,” defined by Dr. Lisa, as she is known locally.
It’s a real-time communication model that played out successfully in Summit County last week as the first positive COVID-19 was reported in Colorado, identified as a visitor who had been skiing at neighboring Keystone and Vail resorts. Residents were able to watch a live-stream of the press conference without having to leave their home or business. The recorded information session is also available for residents to watch at a time that is convenient for them.
The same held true for Eagle County officials as they announced that a 50-year-old woman was diagnosed with the Coronavirus after returning home from traveling outside the country. These cases in neighboring counties brought COVID-19 right onto Leadville’s front porch, heightening awareness for Lake County residents. Utilizing 21st-century technologies to disseminate information from familiar local officials in a video format is imperative in an emergency situation, and certainly a level of communication that most Lake County residents have come to expect.
The Domino Effect
In the meantime, some local events have been canceled and/or called into question, with organizers erring on the side of caution. Last week, the musical concert at the Old Church was canceled due to illness. On March 4, LCHS Artistic Director Scott Carroll posted:
“Due to the vast amount of illness among our performers, we are unable to continue with tomorrow’s (3/5) scheduled concert. At Lake County High School Performing Arts we value performing with our entire team. When circumstances out of our control arise, such as illness, we have to make tough decisions. We do not want to risk spreading illness to other students, performers, and audience members. Thank you for your understanding.”
Then yesterday, March 9, the 9Health Fair officials announced that they have postponed the spring 9Health Fairs as a proactive measure.
While it’s too early to tell how many big events may fall under the COVID-19 shadow, the chatter about the virus has been heating up some of the Leadville Race Series group pages. Front-and-center in today’s conversation is one of the Leadville Trail 100 MTB qualifiers, the Austin Rattler scheduled for later this month on March 28.
For readers who may have missed last week’s historic move, on Friday, March 6, Austin (Texas) Mayor Steve Adler announced that the 2020 South by Southwest festival had been canceled for the first time in 34 years. Then, yesterday, the other shoe dropped with news that the city of Austin is prohibiting mass gatherings through May 1. No word yet about how their main street decision could cause the dominos to fall in Leadville.
And even though the first Leadville event in the race series is more than 12 weeks out, racers still can’t help but weigh-in, with comments range from the comical: Tony Corley: Virus? I ride too fast for a virus to catch me!; to the dramatic, Kent Smith: If Coronvirius gets to Leadville, the world is over..”; to the more thoughtful, Suzy Ward Shannon Schmidt: Should have run its course by August. But all we can do at this point is wait and see.
Notably absent in the online discussion is the “healthy way of life” company. While the Coronavirus conversation seems like a coachable moment there is no mention of COVID-19 on any of Lifetime’s websites or social platforms. Keep an eye on the Austin Rattler event as it could force the race producer’s hand to step forward with a comment or plan. Or, better yet, perhaps the publicly-traded-company can take-a-page from the “Pandemic Flu Checklist: Event Planners” document recently distributed by Jackie Littlepage, Director of Environmental Health/Health Inspector with the Public Health Agency in Lake County, the home to the Leadville Race Series.
Business As Usual
On the economic front, Lake County appears to be holding its own as world markets quake and tourists’ heads shake over mixed messages.
“We haven’t seen any cancellations due to Coronavirus,” stated Kevin Ferguson with Silver King Inn & Suites. “In fact, we’re up a bit over last year.” In general, that seemed to be the case with a quick check-in of several Lake County lodging establishments regarding any impact from COVID-19.
“Our housekeeping staff is being extra vigilant in sanitizing common surface areas, “reported Dave Horning with Grand West Village Resort. “But that’s kinda standard procedure this time of year,” he added referring to the annual flu and cold season. “Our reservations have been up this winter,” he added, noting there have been no cancellations due to travel concerns.
The other area of concern is fear-based consumerism, clearing out cleaning and medical supplies. While many of the bleach-based products seemed to be emptied from Safeway’s cleaning supply shelves during a Monday morning check, other simple sanitizing products were still in stock.
The Family Dollar store told a different story with nearly ALL of the cleaning supplies wiped from the shelves as well as numerous empty rows for the over-the-counter medicines used to fight the flu and common cold. At this more moderately priced retail outlet, Monday looked like it could have been a truck day with new supplies waiting to be re-stocked. But anymore with this retail chain, it’s hard to tell if the products are coming or going, with cluttered aisles and dangerous towering boxes at every corner!
Well, that’s all for the local germ report from Leadville Today. Stay tuned to your trusted news sources for the most up-to-the-minute news concerning the Coronavirus, wash your hands and for goodness sake, cover your cough! Feel free to reach out to Leadville Today at firstname.lastname@example.org. And LT will post log-in details for Friday’s Town Hall Meeting when that is available, allowing residents to attend virtually through their phones or home computers.