Harmon: Our new normal in Eagle County? Creativity and safety
As we continue to see the positive impacts of social distancing on reducing the spread of COVID-19, we are starting to plan for what comes next. Some have called this a phased approach to lifting some restrictions, while others have described it as a sustainable level of social distancing efforts. Regardless, it is time to start putting together plans for what this will look like in Eagle County.
That said, let’s be clear. This will take time and it will take a sustained effort from all of us to ensure success. The process will be incremental, much like we see from our ski resorts when opening up terrain early in the season. Like the ski resorts, the plan will be aimed at providing access while ensuring the safety of everyone. In this circumstance, we will also need to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 in our community.
What do we need to have in place to take our first step?
- A sustained decrease in cases for at least 14 days.
- Hospitals are safely able to treat patients without resorting to crisis standards of care.
- Testing can be performed for all people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection.
- Active monitoring can be accomplished for all COVID-19 cases and their contacts.
This past week, our health care providers took some important steps to our recovery efforts — they began to see their clients for wellness and preventative visits. Other steps paving our way include the capacity to test for COVID-19, as well as how quickly we can get test results back, now typically between 24 and 48 hours.
In addition to our readiness to achieve these four triggers, we are also preparing to share a protocol that would be used by businesses allowed to operate under the rolled-back orders.
The exciting part? We want everyone to start their entrepreneur engines, get creative and bring back the purpose and passion you have for running your business. Start to review the existing social distancing protocol for essential businesses and find ways your business can do the same. That way, if you are allowed to open, you are prepared for when it’s time.
What do each of us need to do to help support this effort?
- Continued social distancing. This will evolve over time, but keeping our distance and limiting gatherings will still be critical.
- Get tested quickly if you develop symptoms, within 48 hours. Call your medical care provider and they will provide guidance on where and how to get tested.
- Stay home if you’re sick. Isolate, mask-up, and clean up to protect your family members.
- Be patient. The phased approach will take some time.
As we work closely with our community to implement a phased approach in the coming weeks and months, we all need to recognize the way we socialize and do business will be different. Much of our success has relied so heavily on the personal responsibility of everyone to implement the social distancing requirements, our ability to reopen without a resurgence of COVID-19 cases will rely heavily on each and everyone one of us.
We have come a long way in the last month and while there is still plenty of work to do, I know our community will rise to the challenge of our new normal.
Heath Harmon is the director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment.