State says Eagle County must take immediate steps to reduce COVID-19 cases |

State says Eagle County must take immediate steps to reduce COVID-19 cases

Staff report

Eagle County has been put on notice by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that it must reduce its spread of COVID-19 cases over the next two weeks or face tougher restrictions.

The state government urged the county to consider tougher “mitigation and containment measures immediately,” the county government said in a news release.

Eagle County has been in the yellow level of the state’s COVID Dial Dashboard, but its cases of the virus have climbed in recent weeks. The incidence rate for Eagle County has risen to 284 cases per 100,000 people, an increase from the 222 reported Oct. 29. Six Eagle County residents have been hospitalized in the past two weeks.

El Jebel, part of Basalt and surrounding areas in the midvalley are part of Eagle County. If the county doesn’t reduce its number of cases, it could be moved to the orange level of the state’s dial.

“A move to Orange would mean additional capacity limits on restaurants, retail establishments, places of worship, gyms, group sports, and events,” the county news release said. “Officials say this move is likely to have a significant impact on the local economy and social and emotional wellbeing.”

Case investigations show the area of biggest concern continues to be spread of COVID-19 during private gatherings and close, prolonged contact with friends, family and coworkers where masks are not being worn and social distancing is not being practiced, according to the county.

The goal is to reduce new cases back below 175 per 100,000 people so that state-imposed restrictions can be avoided.

“Generally, we are seeing businesses and other community resources starting to understand the disruption this higher level of COVID-19 can bring,” said Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron. “It will take all of us to turn the rate of infection around. It will not be just one thing we need to do. It’s not just masks, it’s not just social distancing.”

He referenced an illustration by an organization called Virology Down Under that shows how it takes several layers of effort to effectively manage the spread of disease. Efforts are like Swiss cheese. An individual effort won’t prevent the spread. It takes multiple layers of efforts.

“This needs a community effort. If we are going to do it, we need to do it all together,” Barron said.

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