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Eagle County is seeking exemptions from some portions of the state’s COVID-19 executive and public health orders. The exemptions, if granted, would provide Eagle County Public Health and Environment limited flexibility to start implementing plans that could slowly and incrementally reopen portions of the community in an approach that still aims to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
Some of the considerations within Eagle County’s interests are increasing the size of permissible gatherings from zero to 10; permitting conditional opening of non-critical, non-essential, non-governmental businesses that can meet social distancing requirements; and opening outdoor recreation facilities where adequate controls can be implemented to ensure social distancing and while preventing gatherings of greater than 10.
The request was made in consultation with medical care providers, elected officials and community leaders across Eagle County using local data to help determine the following triggers are met as outlined in the National Coronavirus Response, A Road Map to Reopening:
Eagle County is collaborating with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on an appropriate path forward to sustaining social distancing while taking a first step toward relaxing current restrictions. An excerpt from the letter sent on April 16 accompanying the request, sent by Eagle County Director of Public Health and Environment Heath Harmon to CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan, reads as follows:
“Per our recent telephone conversation, I am submitting for your review a formal request for exemptions to Colorado Public Health Order (20-24). Please see the attached and refer to the Eagle County COVID-19 Dashboard to see the data discussed in the request.
Eagle County, our medical community, and county partners are prepared to take a step toward a more sustainable social distancing model, while taking a cautious and incremental step to open businesses and recreation that are currently restricted in these orders. The primary focus is opening businesses that have not been defined as critical, essential, or governmental while requiring these businesses to implement a social distancing protocol.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is expected to respond early next week. Local officials say the response could include approval, denial, or suggested changes.
The Eagle County Board of Commissioners is in full support of the request. Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry says public health and economic health are intrinsically tied. “As we look at changing our public health orders, we must do so in a manner that keeps our health a top priority. We will need the community’s help in striking the right balance of reopening and caution,” she said.
“We have thousands of families living with risks to their food, shelter, and physical and mental health because they have lost their jobs,” said Commissioner Matt Scherr. “Giving them an opportunity to earn a paycheck will be paramount to improving their families’ stability, reducing anxiety and depression, and starting our community down the road to recovery.”
Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney noted that although meeting the four triggers demonstrates the county’s readiness to move forward, a sustainable level of social distancing will be with the community long into the future until a vaccine is developed.
Eagle County Public Health is sharing local data, including case counts, hospitalizations and more, through its Eagle County COVID-19 Monitoring dashboard. Additional information is available at www.ECEmergency.org and by following One Valley Voice on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OneValleyVoice.
Residents may also email CovidQuestions@eaglecounty.us or call 970-328-9750 with questions.