5:00 PM 4/24/20 Update

What will the next phase of this pandemic look like for our community? To start, let’s reflect back on the roller coaster of the last month and a half.

Our first Public Health Order was issued on March 13, and it quickly ramped up over the coming days and weeks to get us into the shutdown of Gunnison County. A recent report from the Investigative Science Section demonstrates the doubling time of COVID-19 at 3-5 days. If orders were issued one week later, a quadrupling of patient load and sick could have inundated our hospital. This may have led to 16 deaths as opposed to our current four. Public Health issued the order, but you as the community made the real impacts. Thanks to all of your hard work and sacrifice! Without a doubt, lives were saved!

We placed the safety and wellbeing of our neighbors and community first. Based on early estimates, it is predicted that our valley’s tourism sector alone will lose over $60 million in 2020. We have come together as a community to prop up that economy. An early summary from two local banks shows that 150 businesses received Paycheck Protection Program loans totalling over $13 million and saved paychecks for at least 1,250 individuals. Additionally, the airport received $18 million from the CARES Act for renovations. This doesn’t even take into account the tremendous donations and work coming from our robust non-profit sector.

The 7th Amended Public Health Order expires on April 26 and will be immediately replaced by an 8th Amended Public Health Order. This order is our first step into the “dance” or stabilization period of this pandemic response. While we are holding out on full commitment until we better understand the state guidelines being released in days to come, here is what is being considered for opening up:

Effective April 27

-Non-resident homeowners being welcomed back with a mandatory 7-day isolation upon their arrival. We ask them to let us know when they plan to arrive and how many in their family will be arriving. This is necessary information to help drive predictive modeling around potential hospital impacts and community needs as the Gunnison Valley seasonally swells in population.

-Residents leaving the county for less than 24 hours will not be required to self-isolate for 7 days.  All travelers are highly recommended to self-isolate when they return.

-Moving group size to no more than 10.

-Library open to curbside service.

Effective May 1

-Looking to align with the state on personal services with hair salons, etc. Not including limited personal training or spas.

Effective May 4

-Childcare centers to open with a priority for essential workers.

-Retail open to customers with public health measures and guidance. 

This first phase of loosening orders will likely be over an extended period of about a month. We will continue to gather clues about how these measures affect the spread of the disease. Symptom reporting, while not perfect, is one of our best early indicators that we may soon see an increased impact on the hospital. If you are feeling symptomatic, please immediately report and isolate yourself. We continue to build up our testing capability and contact tracing. Contact tracing becomes easier if you limit contact. We will take all of these clues and continually plug this data back into our ever-improving modeling and phased approach to opening our communities back up. 

While we begin the dance back to normal, we still need the community to stay strong. As the state has put it, you are “safer at home.” This is particularly true of the 60+ and at-risk portion of our community. We can all limit our interactions to help keep everyone safe. The better job we do over the next month, the more we can normalize the following month. If we slip up, we may have to take a backwards step towards tighter restrictions -something all of us want to avoid.. 

We have seen incredible resiliency and creativity from this community. Volunteers have stepped up to help their neighbors. Businesses have adapted to the changes we have to make. Until we have a vaccine, we must be creative and resilient how we continue our lives. How can we adapt to this new normal? In an effort to open up more space for retail and restaurants to properly social distance, there has been talk of shutting down main streets to vehicle traffic. Maybe the 4th of July parade will be “inside-out” with the spectators driving by the stationary–and socially distanced–floats? We don’t know… but innovative solutions like these are actively being discussed and pursued. Our towns are remarkable!

Safety precautions will be in place for the foreseeable future. We are communicating this with businesses now via the ICELab’s industry subgroups, the OVLC and several other venues. The industries are their own experts, and so they are providing innovative plans on how they can safely operate. We have successfully kept the virus at bay, but we are still in the second inning. Do not let your guard down.

Much like the prospectors, coal miners and centennial ranching families who built their legacy in the Gunnison Country, to the mid-timers who found and fought their way, and now the younger generation having a go of it, we have always desired a life crafted of our own volition in spite of the sacrifices that it takes. Through grit, the Gunnison Valley’s people will find a way to thrive despite these harsh realities. 

Phased Reopening Infographics

For a quick look at what the months ahead might look like, please refer to the following infographics.

Investigative Science Section Report

For those that want to better understand the reasoning behind the process of reopening and the data that we will look to inform us in the future, please refer to this document from the Investigative Science Section

By the Numbers

As of 2:26 PM, we have 104 positive, 251 negative, and 10 pending tests.

Our Google data studio is live on the website. The main page is a breakdown. There is more detail in a link in the bottom right corner for those that want to dig in further.