Eagle County drops COVID-related emergency order
Wave of cases has receded
There are still plenty of local cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19. But the situation is getting better.
A decline in new cases led the Eagle County Commissioners Tuesday to rescind an emergency declaration regarding the virus.
Eagle County Emergency Manager Birch Barron reminded the commissioners that the original emergency declaration was imposed in December of 2021 in response to a rapid spike in COVID cases. The declaration allowed county officials to quickly seek help from state and federal officials.
People working in critical roles in the county, particularly those in health care, transportation and public safety were among those staying home due to illness.
Barron noted that the week before Christmas, he was getting “almost daily” calls for help from Vail Health. The emergency declaration enabled officials to bring in extra doctors and nurses.
Local police and fire departments, along with the valley’s ambulance service, all had numerous people out sick.
Barron said those agencies have largely stabilized in the first few weeks of this year. But, while Barron said his office hasn’t had an emergency request in the past 10 days or so, all those agencies are still “on the fence” regarding staffing.
There was little debate among the commissioner about the decision to drop the emergency declaration.
Commissioner Matt Scherr asked Barron a mostly rhetorical question about whether or not it’s still useful to wear masks in public.
Barron replied that masks protect wearers and others, and can prevent the spread of the disease. The county still hasn’t dropped below 500 cases per 100,000 residents, so Barron asked residents to “consider wearing” masks when out in public. Individual businesses and local governments can still require masks in their buildings, Barron added, noting Eagle County still requires people to wear masks in its buildings.
All the county’s transit agencies still require riders to wear masks. Those agencies all receive federal funds, and a federal mask mandate remains in place.
Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said she respects and supports organizations that have mask and vaccination requirements. But, she added, it “feels good” to rescind the emergency declaration.
“It’s hard personally to live under a constant state of emergency,” she said.