City of Glenwood Springs, GarCo announce facility closures; regional health officials working to setup COVID-19 phone line

A sign posted on the front office door of Carbondale Middle School advises precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Friday morning, Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa implemented a Declaration of Local Disaster Emergency.

Beginning Saturday, the city will close its public facilities including: city hall, the community center, art center and the police and fire departments’ administrative offices.

Garfield County followed suit Friday evening, announcing that access to its facilities would be restricted starting Monday and lasting through April 8, according to a news release.

All 4-H events at the Garfield County Fairgrounds will be canceled through March 23 and all 4-H clubs are canceled until April 10. The Garfield County Oil and Gas Symposium and the Vegetation Management pesticide applicator workshop have been canceled.

All Garfield County Senior Programs meals and group activities have been suspended for the time being, and transportation service on the Traveler is reduced.

“All essential county services are still being provided, though residents are urged to conduct any other business with the county by phone, if possible,” the news release states.

All of Glenwood Springs’ community center’s scheduled programs have been cancelled through March 27.

Despite city buildings being closed, essential services – including police, fire and emergency medical services – will remain intact.

“We’ll always be present to provide public safety services,” Joseph Deras, Glenwood Springs police chief, said. “We will absolutely be responding to emergency calls.”

The city’s landfill, recycle center and parks will also remain open.

The news release stated that closing many of the city’s facilities was a proactive measure intended to slow the potential spread, impacts and damage of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Glenwood Springs Frontier Museum will also close beginning March 14.

The closures will remain in effect for two weeks.

The city will reevaluate whether or not to reopen those facilities on March 27 according to the news release.

“The health and safety of our community remains our primary concern during this unique time. We recognize these closures will inconvenience our residents, but these decisions are made to prevent the spread of illness and to ensure the health of our residents as much as possible,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said in the news release. “We also hope that our residents and visitors will continue to support our local businesses during this difficult time.”

Communities working on local help line

Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin Counties have also implemented a public health order that prohibits events with more than 50 people. However, restaurants and other places of employment can remain open so long as social distancing occurs.

Garfield County Public Health Specialist Carrie Godes said the county’s public health department was not conducting COVID-19 testing but was working to create a regional phone line to answer questions.

According to Godes, the county was coordinating with Valley View Hospital, Grand River Health, Aspen Valley Hospital and Pitkin County to set up a community line for Roaring Fork Valley residents to call and ask questions should they become symptomatic.

“We’re working on that right now,” Godes said.

Until that regional line becomes available Godes said the public should continue to reach out to the state’s COVID-19 call line at CO-HELP.

People who have general questions about COVID-19 can call CO-HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911.

“We want to make sure, whether it’s Valley View Hospital, Grand River Health or Aspen Valley Hospital, that we’re protecting those hospital resources for the patients who really need that higher level of care,” Stacey Gavrell, Valley View Hospital chief community relations officer, said.

Valley View Hospital Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Ben Peery made clear that patients with severe symptoms should absolutely seek medical attention.

However, Peery also said that the vast majority of illnesses, currently, were not COVID-19 cases but rather standard viral illnesses that will pass with time and rest.

“The numbers are still on our side in terms of risk for COVID(-19),” Peery said. “As long as we can mitigate the exposure to health care facilities and other public places, we’ll slow this thing down significantly.”

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