Community health updates are changing daily in Lake County due to COVID-19. As of March 24, 912 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Colorado.
Though no COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in Lake County as of Tuesday, positive test results have been confirmed in every surrounding county.
State of Colorado
Governor Jared Polis announced a number of state actions to address the impact of COVID-19 in Colorado last week.
To start, Polis signed an executive order temporarily suspending elective and non-essential surgeries and medical procedures to preserve medical equipment needed to combat COVID-19. The order is in effect until April 14.
Another order signed by Polis directs all of Colorado’s non-critical employers to reduce their in-person workforce by 50 percent and to implement tele-work options to the greatest extent possible.
Polis requested that local governments, property owners and landlords refrain from carrying out evictions or foreclosures against Colorado families, unless there is a threat to public safety, until April 30.
The governor is also encouraging financial institutions holding residential or commercial mortgages to follow the lead of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and halt foreclosures and related evictions that are due to income reductions because of COVID-19.
Polis also directed the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Unemployment Insurance Division to expedite claim payments during the current state of emergency. The department has seen a ten-fold increase of claims filed in the last two weeks.
The income tax payment deadline for all Colorado taxpayers was extended by 90 days until July 15, without penalty or interest. The governor is also directing the Department of Revenue to coordinate with local governments that choose to extend tax payment deadlines for property, sales and use taxes.
In terms of health care, the Division of Insurance and Connect for Health Colorado established a special enrollment period for uninsured Coloradans to get health insurance last week. Uninsured individuals are able to enroll in health insurance plans through April 3.
“These times are difficult, but they are temporary,” Polis said in a press conference last week. “Coloradans should rest assured that we will get through this together and we will be well-positioned for success when this all blows over.”
Lake County Public Health Agency
Lake County Public Health Agency (LCPHA) is now adhering to the Colorado Department of Public Health’s order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people.
LCPHA is testing people for COVID-19 at Rocky Mountain Family Practice (RMFP) and St. Vincent Hospital (SVH). If a patient is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call RMFP or SVH before showing up as they are not doing drive-up testing.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages all individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of citizenship status, to seek treatment and testing. Such treatment or preventative services will not negatively affect future public charge determinations, USCIS said.
According to LCPHA, the state lab is receiving a higher number of test samples than it has the capacity to process. Lake County is experiencing a delay in receiving test results for this reason.
If Lake County individuals are tested, they are either hospitalized or instructed to self-isolate for 10 days following the onset of symptoms. Essentially, tested individuals are treated as if they have received a positive result.
Lake County Government
All Lake County Government offices and facilities are closed to the public until further notice. Offices are still operating remotely, call or email with questions.
The Lake County Landfill and recycling drop sites at the community field and C.R. 10 remain open; the recycling center is closed.
The Board of County Commissioners will meet each Friday to reevaluate the state of emergency declaration, as well as facility closures.
Lake County District Court
Lake County District Court is open for emergencies only. All scheduled hearings will be continued to after April 6.
Lake County Probation is currently closed to the public; staff is providing services over phone.
The City of Leadville
Though City Hall is currently closed to the public, departments continue to work. Residents can access forms and pay bills on the city’s website; public meetings will be streamed on the city’s YouTube channel.
Lake County School District
On March 18, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order suspending in-person learning in public and private schools across the state until April 17. The order directs school districts to provide alternative remote learning opportunities, as well as access to free and reduced-cost lunch and breakfast.
Lake County School District (LCSD) administration and school leaders met last week to continue developing remote learning plans for students. Remote learning at LCSD is set to begin on March 30.
LCSD started distributing sack breakfast/lunch for anyone 18 years and younger on March 23. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday by school district and Full Circle vehicles starting at 11:30 a.m. at Mountain View Village (east and west) and Lake Fork Mobile Home Park. Meals will also be available for pickup Monday through Friday from 12 to 1 p.m. at the entrance of Lake County High School.
The Colorado High School Activities Association also extended the suspension of spring sports season to April 18. No practices or competitions are allowed during the suspension period.
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Mountain College (CMC) credit courses will remain online or Webex for the remainder of the spring semester. The decision was made in response to Polis’ executive order suspending in-school learning until April 17, as well as his state-level directive prohibiting meetings of 10 or more people. CMC faculty is currently working to transition face-to-face courses to a distance learning formats for credit students.
Students residing in residence halls are being encouraged to vacate unless the facility is their primary home. All non-credit courses are canceled through May 1. The Leadville campus remains open to students and employees, primarily for computer access.
CMC also canceled all in-person commencement ceremonies planned for this spring. College leadership is considering alternate arrangements to celebrate CMC’s pending 2020 graduates.
According to Jim Telle, an external communications manager for Freeport McMoRan, Climax Molybdenum has made changes to work, pay, travel and sick time policies based on guidance from Freeport’s medical director, as well as the CDC and World Health Organization. Some of these changes include telework, staggered work schedules to adhere to social distancing guidelines, reduction of site access and education around proper workplace hygiene.
Grocery, pharmacy, pet food stores, hardware stores and gas stations are still open in Lake County but may only sell pharmaceuticals, groceries, essential cleaning products, pet food and hardware. Other retail stores are restricted to online or phone sales.
Leadville Safeway is reserving Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. as shopping hours for members of the Lake County community most at-risk to COVID-19. Such populations include senior citizens, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. The stores asks locals who do not fit into an at-risk category to avoid shopping at those times.
Lake County’s restaurants and food banks are still allowed to provide delivery and drive-up services if they meet environmental cleanliness guidelines from the CDC. Licensed establishments are also now able to sell sealed alcoholic drinks as take-out items.
Short-term lodging in Lake County is also now prohibited through April 30. All hotels and short-term rentals had to be vacated on March 22, unless occupied by a worker assisting COVID-19 efforts.
CenturyLink and Spectrum both committed to the Federal Communications Commission’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” meaning that both internet providers will not terminate a residential or small business customer’s service due to financial circumstances associated with COVID-19 for the next 60 days. The companies will also waive late fees.
CenturyLink is suspending data usage limits for consumer customers; Spectrum does not have data caps. Both providers will open WiFi hotspots to any individual who needs them. Spectrum is also offering two months of free WiFi for households with remote child education needs.
Xcel Energy will not disconnect service to any residential customers until further notice. The utility company is working to arrange payment plans with customers affected by COVID-19.
According to Xcel, the company has staffing plans in place to ensure that power plant operators, line workers and customer care representatives can continue to deliver energy services.
Though Ferrellgas closed walk-in services at its Leadville office, the company will still make propane deliveries.
Parkville Water District and Leadville Sanitation District are currently closed to the public. Customers can pay bills over the phone or internet. Both will continue to service lines as usual.
The Mt. Massive Golf Course and Tennessee Pass Nordic Center ski trails remain open to the public. Their clubhouse facilities are closed.
Ski Cooper will remain closed though April 6 in adherence with an executive order.
All Lake County Recreation Department facilities are closed.
Visit the Herald’s free online COVID-19 coverage at http://www.leadvilleherald.com/free_content/covid_19/ for Lake County community health updates.