Eagle County issues updated public health order limiting gathering sizes | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County issues updated public health order limiting gathering sizes

With COVID-19 case counts rising, county is resorting to regulation to slow spead

Nate Peterson
Vail Daily
Eagle County has updated its public health order, effective immediately.
Nate Peterson/Vail Daily

Eagle County has updated its public health order in an effort to slow the increasing spread of COVID-19. The new order is effective immediately.  

Transmission within the county has steadily risen over the past few weeks, with a significant increase in the past five days. The percentage of positive test results (positivity rate) is also rising, prompting the changes to the order, as well as some new actions for how health officials and partners throughout the county will work toward slowing the spread of COVID-19.  

The increases are not exclusive to Eagle County. Many other counties are experiencing similar increases, which is contributing to an overall upward trend for the state, warranting a statewide mask order issued by Gov. Polis on Thursday.  

“The disease levels in our community indicate that each and every one of us is failing in limiting the number of social interactions and maintaining distance and preventing disease spread,” Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron told the Vail Daily on Thursday. “What we have to see is a change in how seriously our community takes this virus,” Barron continued. “It’s become very clear that if we don’t regulate a change in behavior, that change does not happen.”

Eagle County has yet to see increases in hospitalizations, although this typically takes a few weeks to emerge after the increases in cases. While most people will not have any complications or require medical assistance, some people are more vulnerable to severe disease. This includes people 65 years of age or older and people with underlying health conditions, such as those with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, are immunocompromised, or are pregnant. While the risk groups for severe disease have not changed much in the past few months, the most currently available data among children indicates less severe symptoms and illness overall when compared with adults. 

“Our community goals are based on slowing the current spread of COVID-19 and keeping transmission rates within Eagle County at low levels,” said Heath Harmon, the county’s public health director, in a release. “Taking actions now will directly support our longer-term goals including maintaining the current economy, keeping our workforce employed, opening schools, and preparing for a winter with ski resorts opened.”

Key actions being implemented include:

  • Limiting private gatherings to 10 people or less. Six feet of distance will still be required between non-household members.
  • Limiting public gatherings to 100 people or less for indoor environments and 175 people for outdoors. There will not be an ability to expand events with multiple groups and 6 feet of distance will still be required between non-household members. 
  • Increasing capacity for education and enforcement, which will include ongoing outreach and partnership with local industry sectors. 
  • Implementing a locally-focused marketing and communication strategy.
  • Working regionally to increase testing capacity and ensuring results within 48 hours.
  • Enhance the supports available for people that may require isolation and quarantine, including an assurance of paid leave associated with COVID-19.
  • Broadening the regional collaboration among public health and medical officials.
  • Advocating and collaborating with state officials on longer-term strategies that can support our communities.

“We have heard clearly from residents, partners, local governments that these are our collective goals and that we cannot achieve them without the backing and support of everyone in the community,” Harmon said. “Policies to prevent COVID-19 can only go so far. This is all heavily reliant on individual behaviors among locals and visitors.”

Regular updates on the county’s response to COVID-19 are being shared at http://www.ECEmergency.org. The county’s forum for community discussions is at http://www.facebook.com/OneValleyVoice. Those with additional questions can email covidquestions@eaglecounty.us or call 970-328-9750.

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