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Harmon: Keep it up, Eagle County

We are three weeks into our physically distant way of life, or since the date of Eagle County’s first public health order, as we all work together to combat COVID-19. Although we have all learned quickly what the meaning of social distancing is, let’s face it — connecting with others is a necessary element of being human.

We must continue to support one another through the coming weeks in a responsibly distant and/or virtual way. I think it’s important to note that many of us may need more than social support. Fortunately, our community has risen to that challenge in ensuring economic support, as well as behavioral health support. Please check out the resource list below if you think you could benefit from any of them.  

So, how are we doing?

I am proud and grateful for how many of us are ensuring the appropriate physical distance from others while we are out in the public accessing essential services. We can see this in the data about miles driven, as well as the miles traveled by our mobile phones. As a community, we are doing well limiting our time away from home and keeping some distance between one another. Please keep it up!  

As always, there is room for improvement. For example, walking through my neighborhood recently, I noticed several houses that had 8-12 cars lined up in the driveway. Although just an observation, it is hard not to wonder if there are still gatherings taking place quietly indoors and safely hidden from view.

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I should also note the numerous calls about a local gym that was still in operation — window coverings in place, again, safely hiding activities from view. If we 100% commit to social distancing I can promise you our community will be back to normal faster than if we allow ourselves to cheat when it’s convenient.  

Other opportunities for improvement:

  • We have heard from our recreation providers that people continue to gather to play team sports or use playground equipment.
  • Household transmission is one key area where we must do better. Many of our cases today are household contacts of our cases from last week. We need to isolate, mask up, and clean surfaces at home. Tested or not, if you’re sick, protect your family.

I can assure you congregations of any size are not safe for our community at this time. After all, 38% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among people aged younger than 55 years and 20% are among people aged 20-44 years, which this latter age group accounts for as many as 29% of COVID cases. We should consider that although infection can be mild in many of us, that doesn’t mean we can’t spread the virus to someone else who may not be so fortunate. Save a life, stay at home.

What can you expect in the coming weeks? 

We continue to see more cases of COVID-19, as well as a significant number of people with symptoms contacting their medical provider. We are still seeing spread within households and anticipate many more COVID-19 cases in the weeks to come. However, we are making some changes to help swing the odds in our favor. 

We will revise the current Eagle County public health order to help clarify some areas we can collectively do better. We will support local partnerships, like ones with Vail Health, Colorado Mountain Medical, and the MIRA Bus, to ensure testing is available for our community members that may not have access to medical care. We will continue to monitor the capacity of our medical system to serve our community and hope to see continued benefits from our early actions to slow the spread of the virus.  

We continue to refine our communication tools and want to ensure you know where you can get local updates on COVID-19. One Valley Voice is Eagle County’s official COVID-19 Facebook forum. We have recently made some changes to http://www.ECemergency.org providing quick links on the homepage to the information we know you are looking for. This website is our official website for public safety information so we invite you to visit it daily.

Our successes to this point are a result of your diligence to honor the state and local public health orders. Our future success is still highly dependent on your actions. The more we commit to social distancing the sooner we’ll squash this virus, start earning money and support our families. 

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


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