Progression of a pandemic


By Terri Lynn Oldham House

We’ve spent hours and hours in meetings this past month.

We’ve watched and listened to our community leaders as they joined forces in the battle against COVID-19.

On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 a “public health emergency of international concern.”

On Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the virus a public health emergency.

On Feb. 6, we penned The SUN’s first editorial encouraging you to wash your hands.

Nearly 500 people in China had died from the coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases of infection rose to more than 24,000 at that time.

We encouraged you to stay vigilant and shared the good news that as of that date, COVID-19 was not spreading in any community in the United States.

On Feb. 26, Rhonda Webb, CEO of Upper San Juan Health Service District, activated the district’s emergency operations plan for a pandemic.

The first positive case of COVID-19 in Colorado was confirmed on March 5, and by March 11, that number had grown to 27 statewide.

Also on March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic.

That same day, Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order declaring Colorado a state of disaster emergency due to the presence of COVID-19.

More than 1,080 people in the U.S. had tested positive for COVID-19, as of the morning of March 11; at least 32 people across the country had died.

On March 12, Webb activated the district’s Incident Command as part of its emergency operations plan to prepare and respond to the pandemic.

In that day’s issue of The SUN, we discussed the importance of “social distancing” along with the lack of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Stock markets plummeted in the wake of coronavirus fears.

As your hometown newspaper, we committed to keeping readers informed and posting to and our Facebook page: throughout the public health crisis.

That same day, Pagosa Springs Medical Center hosted a meeting to coordinate emergency response by all governmental entities should there be a surge of patients.

On March 13, the President of the United States issued a proclamation stating that the “COVID-19 outbreak constitutes a national emergency.”

On March 16, the executive director of San Juan Basin Public Health declared a local disaster emergency.

On March 16, the Archuleta County administrator declared a local disaster emergency and on March 17, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution extending the Declaration of a Local Disaster through April 21.

On March 16, Pagosa Springs Mayor Don Volger declared a local disaster emergency. On March 19, Town Council consented to a continuation of that declaration.

On March 26, the first Archuleta County resident was confirmed as presumptive positive for COVID-19. This week, there are six people listed as positive in the county.

As of press time, La Plata County has 35 cases, Colorado has 5,429 cases with the state’s death toll at 179.

We’ve watched our passionate and dedicated community leaders including hospital and public health staff, emergency personnel, dispatch staff, emergency management team, law enforcement, health and human services, victim advocates, town and county staff, and elected officials working to make the wisest decisions in a battle against a complicated and mysterious virus.

We believe that those efforts have already made the difference and saved lives.

Who ever knew what going through a pandemic would be like or what tomorrow will bring?

We’ve experienced great economic pain and suffering as a community due to the pandemic; however, we believe the lives we have saved in our efforts to flatten the curve are worth it.

Please stay safe and healthy.