RBC moves into “Protect Our Neighbor” phase

RBC | Rio Blanco County is one of three Colorado counties, along with Mesa and Gilpin, to receive the governor’s approval to move into “Protect Our Neighbor” status for COVID-19 response.

RBC had to meet certain qualifications, or metrics, in order to achieve the new status, including: sufficient hospital bed capacity, sufficient PPE supply, table or declining COVID-19 hospitalizations, fewer new cases, sufficient testing capacity, ability to implement case investigation and contact tracing protocol, documented surge-capacity plan for case investigation and contact tracing and documented strategies to offer testing to close contacts.

According to RBC Public Health Director Alice Harvey, the new status will allow for more local control and response to changing conditions, as opposed to having to navigate statewide orders. For residents, there won’t be much change.

“In terms of the way we’re operating, it’s not going to make much of a difference unless we have an outbreak here,” Harvey said.

All businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity, the cap on large gatherings is 500, and social distancing is still required.

“Keep on doing what you’re doing,” Harvey said, adding that masks are one of the best tools we have to remain in the new phase, and urging community support for local businesses and schools that require masks in high-risk settings.

With the addition of new public health nurse Sarah Coker in Rangely, Harvey is working on a countywide testing strategy to include drive-thru testing at Rangely’s public health office, similar to Meeker’s drive-thru program.

Harvey also explained that cases listed as being within school district boundaries are not necessarily cases in the schools, just someone who lives within the particular district.

The county’s Coronavirus page is updated on Fridays with the latest information. As of press time, RBC had one active case of COVID-19.