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RBC | Community leaders and stakeholders met virtually on Monday for an update on the coronavirus pandemic. While no positive tests have been reported in Rio Blanco County, as of Tuesday, March 17, eight people had been tested with four negatives and the remaining tests awaiting results. Those who have been tested are under isolation orders.
“We’re a couple of weeks behind the other mountain communities,” Public Health Director Alice Harvey said. “We’re stressing personal responsibility and hoping to curb the spread.”
Personal responsibility — staying home when sick, practicing good hygiene, social distancing, etc. — was partially mandated this week following orders from Colorado Gov. Polis Monday to close dine-in services in restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, and recommending school closures. School and recreation districts also shut down, as did hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and spas later in the week.
Public health is looking at ways to effectively communicate directly with the highest risk communities: nursing homes, senior centers, etc.
The county’s Board of Health, appointed by the county commissioners, has the authority to issue quarantine orders, which are enforceable by law with a court order.
Many local restaurants and other businesses have started offering additional options for take-out and delivery, and online ordering. Meanwhile, grocery stores locally and regionally were decimated by shoppers stocking up on supplies while hospitals restricted visitors and added screenings for patients.
Harvey said they are actively testing those who meet criteria but said at this point widespread community testing is not currently warranted. Public Health is working with both county hospitals and RBC Emergency Management to determine what widespread testing will look like. The goal is to identify people who need medical care without flooding the hospitals and may include a “triage” situation to filter patients to appropriate medical professionals.
In a press conference Tuesday, state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy announced a new Colorado Department of Public Health website with statewide data and information. The website can be found at https://covid19.colorado.gov/.
For current local updates and guidance, visit the Public Health’s coronavirus update page at https://www.rbc.us/592/Coronavirus-Update or call 970-878-7121.
By NIKI TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org