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A stay-at-home advisory was issued Monday afternoon by San Juan Basin Public Health, just hours after La Plata County’s first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced.
San Juan Basin Public Health is now urging residents to stay at home unless it is essential they leave the house. In the absence of a vaccine or cure, health officials say limiting human interaction, known as social distancing, is the best tool to slow the virus’ spread.
Liane Jollon, executive director of San Juan Basin Public Health, said determining what’s an “essential” excursion requires using a bit of common sense in deciding whether to leave the house.
Going to the grocery store, picking up medicine at the pharmacy, walking your dog or showing up at work if an employer still requires it are all good reasons to leave the house, she said.
Making trips to Home Depot to remodel your bathroom, however, or traveling to Walmart to upgrade your stereo system are trips that can wait until the outbreak settles down.
“The duration of this event is going to require significant lifestyle changes,” Jollon.
SJBPH’s issuance Monday is an advisory, not an order that is enforceable. Jollon said the possibility of an order isn’t off the table, but the health department would first like to see if the public can follow the stay-at-home advisory without having to take the drastic measure of an order.
“We’re trying to see how much people do voluntarily, because you never want to go to a shelter in place,” she said. “But if people don’t follow it, we would go to an order.”
On Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis chose not to implement a statewide stay-at-home order, saying the measure would be unenforceable.
Across the state, an estimated 600 people have tested positive, with seven deaths as of Monday. It’s believed the number of confirmed cases is drastically underreported because of a lack of testing kits.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday issued a stay-at-home order, which he said would be enforced. In Denver, 125 people have tested positive for coronavirus.
Other stay-at-home orders have been issued by local governments in Eagle, Gunnison, San Miguel and Summit counties.
SJBPH’s advisory is another in a long line of state and local guidelines to limit human interaction, and therefore the spread of the coronavirus.
Other measures have included canceling schools, large events and government meetings. Ski areas, restaurants and bars have been shut down. And more recently, non-critical Colorado employers were asked to reduce their in-person workforce by 50%.