After over four months of shut downs and stay at home orders, the virus certainly hasn’t run out of gas.
And the Fourth of July weekend won’t be like it was in 2019. The governor’s office just announced that Garfield County will not move into the next Protect Our Neighbors phase as cases are on the upswing with 35 confirmed cases in the last 14 days.
One criteria for moving into the next phase is a steady or declining virus presence of 15 or less cases in a 14 day period.
The only variance already approved and still in place permits restaurants, houses of worship, fitness facilities and gyms to increase capacities. In order to achieve six feet distancing the limit is 50 percent of the posted occupancy code with a minimum 28 square feet per person. This capacity cannot exceed 175 people gathered in a confined indoor space at any given time.
Public Health officials cautioned the variance could be rescinded if 60 cases are confirmed within a 14 day period. In addition, the department reported that one quarter of all county cases diagnosed since June 15 were in the 20 to 59 age range.
Overall, the Roaring Fork Valley has also seen an uptick in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to date. Numbers are just statistics, but when the virus strikes closer to home…
… Like for one parent in the mid-valley:
“My 21-year old son got a call from a friend who had been hanging out with a group of buddies. One of those pals tested positive and eventually the virus came even closer to home. My son’s infection was confirmed as well,” said one local father, who asked not to be identified.
“It’s a shame,” the dad said, “Many young people think because they’re healthy and believe they will only have mild symptoms. They often don’t realize they can bring the bug home and infect older family members, who may suffer more severe consequences.”
White House Pizza has also been hit hard by COVID-19 after first one, then two more employees were confirmed as positive. General Manager Jake Behlow then quickly closed the restaurant on July 25th, and all employees went into the mandatory two week quarantine. So far, none of the other staff tested positive.
“It’s been the toughest week in my career,” Behlow sighed.
“We plan to reopen Thursday, July 9,” Behlow announced and asked the public to check whitehousepizza.com regularly for updates.
Basalt Chief of Police Greg Knott also keeps a close eye on valley statistics, noting that most of the new cases were located in mid valley unincorporated areas.
He said people are generally observing local ordinances,“Just about everyone is being very compliant — business owners as well as residents.”
But, what should people do if they run into a situation where businesses are not following the rules concerning face coverings, social distancing or disinfecting? Not a simple question or answer.
Knott encouraged people to discuss what is or is not going on and try not to be confrontational. “That approach depends on each person’s comfort level,” Knott stressed.
“If that doesn’t work,” he explained, “It may be appropriate to contact local law enforcement or Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield Health Departments.”
Both Carbondale and Basalt have passed a local public health order which required all persons to wear face coverings when entering a business open to the public, in such other public indoor or outdoor places where people can’t maintain safe social distancing from others not of their own households.
Also important is the order that businesses open to the public cannot permit entry by those not in compliance with public health orders. Exceptions are for those under two years old, people who have existing health conditions that could be impaird by a mask, those working in a professional office who do not interact with the public, people dining out, those exercising in a gym plus persons exempted under a special permitted event activity.
Penalties for not following the order range from a maximum of $50 for a first offense to a fine not to exceed more than $200 for a second offense. Each county in the valley has similar rules. Please check the public health department’s website for more details.