Let’s turn this pandemic around


By Terri Lynn Oldham House

We turned our clocks back about two weeks ago. 

Now we are forced to turn those COVID-19 dials back, too. 

With the number of COVID-19 cases exceeding the thresholds allowed, we are moving from Safer at Home Level Blue: Cautious to a Level Yellow: Concern. As of this writing, we’ve had 15 new cases since Nov. 1.

Our neighbors in La Plata County have seen an increase of 225 cases since that same date. So, they are moving to Safer at Home Level Orange: High Risk. 

What does this all really mean? It means we are all one step closer to staying home again like we were in the spring. 

A press release from San Juan Basin Public Health on Tuesday states: “To reduce transmission at workplaces and social gatherings and avoid the need for a Stay-at-Home Order that severely impacts our schools and economy, SJBPH and CDPHE are moving La Plata County into Level Orange: High Risk on the state’s COVID-19 dial, which reduces the legal operating capacity for most businesses from 50% to 25% and moves last call for alcohol sales to 10:00 PM. The full list of changes associated with moving levels on the dial can be found at the CDPHE website. This change in public health restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 AM on Friday, November 13.”

It is time for Archuleta County to take every step we can to reduce our risk and avoid Level Orange. Our businesses have suffered enough and we have to turn this pandemic around. 

A story in Tuesday’s New York Times explains that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States hit an all-time high: “The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus, tallied by the Covid Tracking Project, has more than doubled since September, and now, at 61,964, exceeds the peak reached early in the pandemic, when 59,940 hospitalized patients were reported on April 15.”

A Colorado Hospital Association press release issued Tuesday reads, “Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are reaching a new all-time high each day in Colorado’s hospitals and health systems, as Colorado’s third wave increases at a shockingly rapid rate. While hospitals still have capacity to care for patients, now is the time that the state must change its current trajectory in order to protect the health care system and its workers. Colorado’s providers have learned a lot about COVID-19 over the past nine months and can provide care for COVID-19 patients effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, saving Coloradans’ lives depends on having the bed space and staff to care for all patients who present for care – those with COVID-19 and those with other health care needs.”

That same press release included a statement from Carmelo Hernandez, MD, chief medical officer, San Luis Valley Health: “Cases are on the rise in the San Luis Valley, and it appears we are experiencing another COVID-19 surge. We all know what we need to do to keep the virus in check. We have done this before, and we can do this again. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Avoid large gatherings, especially indoors, stay 6 feet from others. Let’s keep our community as safe as possible as we enter the influenza season and colder months.”

In the Jicarilla Nation to the south of us, a two-week lockdown begins on Monday as cases there continue to rise. 

According to San Juan Basin Public Health, the following precautions will be essential to containing the spread of COVID-19 through the winter holiday season:

• Stay at home as much as possible, and instruct employees to work from home if possible.

• Practice physical distancing (at least 6 feet away from another person).

• Avoid social gatherings with more than one household, especially indoors.

• 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.

• Don’t go to work, school or social activities if you are sick or have a known or suspected exposure.

We know what to do to turn this around. Let’s do it.