Snowmass mayor advocates for outreach as county goes Red |

Snowmass mayor advocates for outreach as county goes Red

“We can always do more,” Bill Madsen says

As an alternate on the Board of Health, Snowmass Village Mayor Bill Madsen couldn’t vote on the decision to move Pitkin County into Red level COVID-19 restrictions Monday night.

But as a representative and voice for Snowmass Village, he has a lot of stake in the game.

Prior to the decision, Madsen advocated for the board to “stay the course” in the “Orange-plus-plus” level and avoid implementing Red level restrictions in a letter to the board on behalf of Snowmass Town Council on Jan 8. The board did not heed that recommendation, instead unanimously approving stricter rules for businesses Jan. 11.

“I don’t mean to discount the virus by any means by trying to keep us in the ’Orange-plus-plus’ range,” Madsen said in an interview after the meeting. “It’s really serious, and people need to take it seriously. That’s why I was pushing for more outreach — we don’t really have the capacity for enforcement.”

Board of Health chair Markey Butler, who preceded Madsen in the mayoral role, is still the voting member for the town.

Madsen believes a “natural slowdown” in January will help reduce case numbers, he said. He also thinks that more communication — not tighter restrictions and enforcement — could mitigate the spread without restaurants and other businesses taking a hit.

“This whole disease is just such a drag for everybody,” Madsen said. “You just see it in their faces and their actions since March — really, it’s really challenging for everyone.”

Madsen also requested variances on the new restrictions for the Town of Snowmass Village during the meeting; the town accounts for roughly 15% of the Pitkin County population but totaled only 10% of cases in the past two weeks, according to a Jan. 11 epidemiology report from Pitkin County Public Health. That, too, was rejected by the board.

“It didn’t really get any traction. … Places like Redstone or Meredith would like to be exempt as well, but it’s really difficult when you’re doing public policy to start carving out pieces,” Madsen said. “I didn’t really hold out of hope for that, but I thought it should be said.”

Madsen praised the efforts of health officials, area businesses and local organizations in their communication about mask wearing and social distancing.

“But we can always do more,” Madsen said. “I want to get the kids back into school, I want to make sure that our businesses are successful, you know, and that people are staying healthy.

“It’s a challenging time to do all those things, but we’ve got to keep plugging away — we’ve got to keep making those top goals and try to make those happen.”

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that Madsen sent the letter to the Board of Health on Jan. 8. The letter was dated Jan. 10 but was emailed to the board two days prior.

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