SJBPH Moves La Plata County into More Restrictive ‘Safer at Home Level 2’
Logically it follows, that when people are coming from many different places, the probability that somebody will be infected increases. Yet in the southwest corner of Colorado, tourism is thriving while case counts remain low, relative to other Colorado counties.
And the juxtaposition is not limited to tourism. While colleges across the country are canceling in-person classes, Fort Lewis College in Durango remains open with nearly 5,800 COVID tests having returned just 42 positive results and no outbreaks identified.
In terms of case counts, out of 64 Colorado counties, La Plata ranks 50th and Archuleta ranks 54th (October 28 data). Low case counts have enabled these communities to strengthen the local economy during the global pandemic. Local schools have been able to stay open with in-person instruction options because of their precautions to control the spread of the virus, with no outbreaks in local districts or independent schools. Businesses are open with some sectors performing better year-over-year.
La Plata County
– August sales tax receipts were up about 5% over August 2019.
– September was the third month in a row that Durango had the highest lodging occupancy in the state.
– Lodging tax for June was up 24.4% versus June 2019 and July was up 31% over July 2019.
– August 2020 sales tax revenues were up more than 20% compared to last year.
SJBPH attributes the low counts as a testament to adequate and well-utilized testing, strong adherence to public health measures, and robust contact tracing. More than 1,220 businesses have taken self-certified COVID-19 safety measures.
With over 30% of Durango’s economy based on tourism, the stakes are high. SJBPH recently moved La Plata County into ‘Safer at Home Level 2’ [a more restrictive level] and is taking extra precautions to keep the focus on the health and safety of its communities.
“The community-wide work to contain COVID-19 has been a remarkable effort on the part of individuals, families, businesses, schools, organizations, and agencies resulting in a more favorable balance of disease containment and positive economic outlook than most other counties in the state,” said Liane Jollon, SJBPH Executive Director. “Archuleta and La Plata counties did not achieve these results by accident, but because of community-wide commitments to taking stringent public health precautions, combined with SJPBH’s focus on robust disease control measures,” Jollon said. “We are so grateful to everyone who is helping our counties maintain a good balance of public health and economic strength and remind community members to remain vigilant as we head into the winter holiday season,” Jollon added.
Local business leaders have worked closely with SJBPH as liaisons between the local public health agency and businesses to share news, updates, and guidance on controlling spread of the virus. The collaboration contributes to the low case count and strong tourism to the region with tangible economic impacts.
“As the Director of the Durango Business Improvement District, the impacts of COVID-19 on our local businesses and our community have kept me up many nights over the past seven months,” said Tim Walsworth. “I am very thankful for the non-stop efforts of San Juan Basin Public Health to keep us informed and safe. I am also very thankful for the frontline, essential workers who are working so hard every day to provide us with a sense of normalcy while adhering to new protocols and procedures.
“Everyone in our community also deserves a huge thank you for working through these tough times by wearing masks, not gathering in large numbers and for social distancing. The reason our case counts have remained relatively low, when compared to other parts of the state, is a direct result of all of our ongoing efforts. Local businesses can be open due to our hard work. Let’s keep it up!”
Claire Ninde is Communications Director for San Juan Basin Public Health. Learn more at https://sjbpublichealth.org/
Post courtesy of Pagosa Daily Post