ASPEN — The Pitkin County stay-at-home order will lift on May 9, bringing Pitkin County into closer alignment with the state “Safer at Home” order issued Monday.
Through May 8, all residents of and visitors to Pitkin County must continue to follow the guidance outlined in the last amended Pitkin County Stay-At-Home Order (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cTs9bBJpBgt3Lpy7ufQJ6mGfcW1YkVXq/view ) enacted on April 23rd, which was originally set to expire on April 30th . The order will be extended, allowing the county to develop the strategies and guidelines for preventing a surge of COVID-19 cases when our community moves to the “safer-at-home” phase starting May 9.
“We hate to impact the livelihoods of everyone who have been hurt by the COVID-19 restrictions,” said Pitkin County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann. “At the same time we want to avoid relaxing restrictions too quickly, only to have to reimpose them if there is a surge in cases.”
On Thursday, the Pitkin County Board of Health will discuss the businesses included in the relaxation of the health order. When the order goes into effect on May 9, it will remain in force for approximately another 6 weeks.
The first planned review of the order will be in early June.
The May 8 order timeline is consistent with the restrictions in other counties, including Boulder, Denver, Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties.
Koenemann explained that the upcoming two weeks are critical to understand how the lifting of the construction and landscaping restrictions will impact the hospital and the community, and to verify that we have continued medical capacity after the first step in loosening the order. The public health office will also use this time to support businesses getting their risk mitigation safety plans in place.
“We have been working day and night to build the capacity to ‘box it in’ so that we can safely ease restrictions in the county and start our first step in social and economic recovery,” Koenemann continued. The “Box It In” strategy involves four components: 1. testing widely among those with symptoms and priority groups, 2. isolating those who are ill with COVID-19, contact tracing to identify everyone who made contact with the ill person, and 4. quarantining those contacts until they are able to be tested (and so the cycle repeats).
“This extra time will allow us to ramp up our epidemiology team to continue to conduct contact tracing, focus outreach and care on disproportionately impacted communities, receive additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for our health care providers, and continue our
progress on accessing testing,” said Koenemann. “Having these elements in place prepares our response for the possible resulting spread of infection.”
With amazing community compliance of the current State-At-Home Order, Pitkin County has met some of the conditions of “Box It In” that need to be in place to make sure the spread of COVID-19 does not surge as additional stay-at-home restrictions are eased.
Protection measures achieved to date:
- Wide-scale PCR testing is now available for all who are symptomatic.
- Expanded capacity to monitor (through contact tracing) those who have tested positive, as well as their close contacts.
- Outbreak risks are minimized in special settings like health facilities and other congregate settings (jails, etc.).
- Sufficient PPE reserves to respond to hospital surge and increased testing.
Further planning efforts underway:
- Continue to work on a regional alternate care site to serve as a location for step-down care when COVID-19 patients who require continued acute care are discharged from the hospital, if hospital capacity is exceeded.
- Prior to May 8, prepare clear guidance for and with the business community to increasecompliance and minimize confusion.
- Prior to May 8, create clear guidance for residents to minimize confusion and increase compliance.
- Establish a compliance system for businesses to demonstrate their compliance with COVID-19 regulations.
- Ramp up outreach and guidance to disparately affected communities, including Hispanic/Latinx and older populations.
- Increase staffing for surveillance and monitoring of active cases of COVID-19.
- Receive additional testing supplies for Pitkin County residents.
- Receive additional personal protective equipment (PPE), including surgical and N95 masks, for essential staff like health care workers and first responders.
The updated Pitkin County Health Order will remain in effect until midnight on May 8, 2020, unless earlier amended, extended, or rescinded by Pitkin County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann, with guidance from the Pitkin County Board of Health.
Until May 9, all residents of and visitors to Pitkin County must continue to follow the guidance outlined in the last amended Pitkin County Stay-At-Home Order enacted on April 23rd.
Updates about next steps will be shared by press release, as well as on the Pitkin County Public Health and social media pages and COVID-19 website.