Gov. Jared Polis this week previewed a new phase in his statewide coronavirus response effort, called “safer at home,” which paves the way for his stay-at-home order to be lifted and certain businesses to reopen next week.
But San Juan Basin Public Health is awaiting further guidance from the Colorado governor’s office before making a recommendation or determination about what the “new normal” may look like next week in Archuleta and La Plata counties.
“We’re anxious to get as many people phasing in to their new normal, but we haven’t gotten the detailed information (from the governor’s office),” said Liane Jollon, executive director of the health department, in an interview Tuesday. “(We) want to do it in a way that protects health and doesn’t result in a situation that makes us have to tighten restrictions in the future due to widespread infection.”
Polis said Monday that cities and counties across Colorado will be able to implement more lenient or stringent restrictions than those he recommends based on their localized situations and responses to the coronavirus outbreak.
Jollon said it will be important to consider what businesses can do to limit the spread of the virus, including their ability to track symptoms (such as taking the temperature of employees), require face coverings, do curbside pickups, keep people 6 feet apart and limit patrons in confined spaces, among other practices.
Polis’ office hasn’t yet laid out those specific guidelines for reopening businesses, Jollon said, which makes it premature to say whether local health officials will follow in his footsteps or recommend their own guidelines.
“Those are all things that go into the decision-making, but we haven’t seen any of that yet,” she said.
Testing is another consideration, she said. Adequate access to diagnostic testing enables health officials to identify who is infected so they can help contain the spread, isolate the infected person, perform contact tracing, quarantine people who may have been exposed and make sure people at risk can receive testing as quickly as possible.
“This is the cycle we need to contain a disease,” Jollon said. “It starts with testing.”
Jollon declined to speculate about whether some parts of the two-county region will have different guidelines, or if guidelines will apply uniformly across Archuleta and La Plata counties. She said the health department meets with representatives from both counties and four municipalities three times a week to discuss necessary steps to protect the community.
“Our goal is to protect health equally across the region that San Juan Basin Public Health serves,” she said.