Harmon: Going the distance | VailDaily.com

Harmon: Going the distance

Heath Harmon
Valley Voices

Are we flattening the COVID-19 curve in Eagle County? Yes. Are we in the clear? No. Are we still seeing cases? Yes, and we fully expect this trend to continue for a bit longer as we all work hard to bring our new cases closer to zero. Our social distancing measures are still important. 

You can take a look at some of the data for yourself on the Eagle County COVID-19 monitoring dashboard at eaglecounty.us/coviddashboard. You’ll see data by the start of symptoms for both lab-confirmed cases and self-reported illness. You’ll also see data about the number of tests performed, how many people have been hospitalized, cases by age group, and geographic area for the self-reported illnesses. Although not reflected on the dashboard, we continue to track where lab-confirmed cases were most likely exposed, which still reflects a few areas where we need your ongoing help:

  • Household spread: That’s where members of the same household have developed the illness after being exposed to another household member with the illness. If you have any illness, please isolate, mask up, and clean up to protect your family members.
  • Community spread: We are still seeing new cases where we can’t identify how the person was infected. Yes, this is why the governor recommended wearing non-medical, cloth face coverings when you are accessing necessary services. Please continue to follow social distance requirements and always remember to wash your hands frequently.

I know with the extension of the local public health order and the state’s order, our community had a collective groan, especially with the early spring-like weather. There is hope on the horizon though.

Your hard work and dedication to social distancing is helping us achieve one of our four goals to squashing this virus — ensuring our medical system is not overwhelmed with severe cases, forcing us to make hard choices of who receives care. I am pleased to report as of writing this letter, the capacity of our medical system is strong.

Beginning the week of April 13, we want residents to be able to resume wellness and preventative visits at your local health care provider. It is an important step to our recovery and to help ensure we all remain healthy long into the future. Please remember to call your health care provider first, schedule appointments, and obtain specific guidance from your medical office, which will likely include wearing cloth face coverings during those visits.

With religious holidays approaching this weekend that are traditionally celebrated by coming together, we need to remember it’s important to celebrate in a virtual and physically distant way this year. I encourage you to get creative and find ways to celebrate with only the people you live with and connect with other family and friends with video calls. With all the progress we have made as a community, please be responsible for your health, your family’s health and that of your community. Gatherings of any size are just not safe or helpful in our recovery plan.

We are receiving daily reports from concerned residents and law enforcement that trailhead and other open space parking lots are turning into a spring skiing “beach” atmosphere. With that in mind, here are a few other requests amid the warmer weather and the opening of trails throughout our county.

  • We strongly encourage you to recreate. Again, this is important to keep a healthy body and a healthy mind. 
  • Where possible, recreate close to your home and avoid driving somewhere else. 
  • Recreate with people you live with. Please don’t organize a group meet-up for a day on the trails.
  • If you see others on the trail, keep a safe distance and pass each other quickly.
  • If a trail or trailhead is crowded, find another trail or time to recreate.

We are in this together and we are making a difference. We must go the distance to help our community move to a place of recovery as quickly as we can.

Heath Harmon is the director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment.

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