Many mountain communities have been responding to COVID-19 outbreaks over the past week with a focus on slowing the spread, ensuring our medical system can respond to the non-coronavirus needs, like delivering babies or treating heart attacks, and protecting our most vulnerable community members. Although these communities have seen a majority of Colorado’s current cases, the risk is not exclusive to the high country.
Eagle, Gunnison, Pitkin and Summit counties have been implementing aggressive actions to minimize social gatherings. These actions are unprecedented and will have both social and economic impacts. However, they will also slow the spread and give hope to an earlier and faster recovery from COVID-19.
Combatting rumors, such as locking down I-70, and working to ensure important services and resources like food, medications, medical supplies still reach our communities are new challenges many of these communities have been tasked with in addition to the COVID-19 response. Cutting communities off from these resources is counterproductive to what these communities need and counter to our Coloradan common values.
Given the collective experience of these counties, the message for the rest of Colorado should be to take action now. COVID-19 does not pay attention to or stop at any jurisdictional boundaries. Additionally, because this is a novel virus, all Coloradans are susceptible regardless of where you live. As a result, social distancing, i.e. staying 6 feet apart; hand washing; practicing good cough and sneeze etiquette; and staying home when you are sick will help protect you, your family and your community even before community spread is identified.