La Plata county returns to Safer at Home Level 2 Designation

Claire Ninde
San Juan Basin Public Health

In order to reduce community transmission and slow a rise in cases that threatens our school learning models and our local economy, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are moving La Plata County to Safer at Home Level 2 as of Monday, Oct. 26.

Local schools have been able to stay open with in-person instruction options because of their precautions to control the spread of the virus and due to low levels of community transmission. Low case counts have helped strengthen the local economy; September was the third month in a row that Durango had the highest lodging occupancy in the state and the city’s August sales tax receipts were up about 5 percent over August 2019.

Meanwhile, case counts are rising significantly across Colorado and in La Plata County, which threatens schools’ ability to continue safely offering in-person instruction and the health of our tourism economy.

A large portion of the rise in cases in La Plata County is associated with transmission among social groups. To reduce community spread, the change in level designation limits private social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people. Additionally, this change moves last call for alcohol sales to 11 p.m. to reduce transmission in late-night social settings where mask-wearing is less common. The full list of changes can be found at the CDPHE website.

With the onset of winter and more activities moving indoors, SJBPH asks for the community’s help to avoid large gatherings, increase social distancing, and stay home when sick or exposed, in order to keep our communities and schools safe from COVID-19.

 “The district’s staff, parents and students have worked so hard to support all the new school safety measures to date, allowing greater educational access than many other districts in the state,” said 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger. “Because of that we support the return to Safer at Home Level 2 to allow us to sustain in person learning for our families. The 9-R community has done well to this point, but we need to remain vigilant, and this shift can only help us with this effort,” he said.

Tom Stritikus, Fort Lewis College President said, “The Fort Lewis community has been extremely fortunate to have a limited number of cases, and no identified outbreaks, compared to other college campuses statewide and nationally. We have worked diligently with SJBPH on disease control precautions that have enabled our students to attend classes in person. We support La Plata County moving to Safer at Home Level 2 to ensure more of a chance that this type of engaged learning can continue on our campus.”

With lower rates of community transmission, Archuleta County will remain at Safer at Home Level 1 for the time being.

Following today’s announcement of La Plata County returning to a Safer at Home Level 2 Designation, Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners Chair Ron Maez urged county residents to avoid Halloween parties. “If you choose to do so, do it at 10 people or less and maintain a safe distance,” he said.

SJBPH sincerely appreciates community members doing their best to control the spread of COVID-19, and reminds everyone to continue to practice the following important public health precautions especially as we head into the Halloween and winter holiday seasons:

  • Stay at home as much as possible,
  • Practice physical distancing (at least 6 feet away from another person),
  • Wear face coverings when in public; the statewide mask order is still in effect in indoor public spaces
  • Practice good hygiene (washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.),
  • Get tested if you have symptoms or believe you’ve been exposed through a known contact or community interaction, and
  • Don’t go to work, school, or social activities if you are sick or have a known or suspected exposure.

For information about all phases of the state’s COVID-19 dial framework for public health protections, visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/data/covid-19-dial.

This story was posted on October 23, 2020.