Community health updates are changing daily in Lake County due to COVID-19. No COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in Lake County as of March 16. Following is the latest:
Lake County Public Health Agency
On March 13, Lake County Public Health Agency (LCPHA) issued a public health order prohibiting gatherings and events of more than 50 people. Colorado statute gives state public health agencies the right to create public meeting regulations and quarantine guidelines during epidemics.
Prohibited events of more than 50 people could include public meetings, sporting events, parades, concerts and more. LCPHA will not actively search for violations. If the agency receives reports of events contrary to the order, LCPHA will reach out to the organizer to educate and provide guidance.
“Not only has COVID-19 presented in our region, but there has also been community transmission between affected individuals,” LCPHA Director Colleen Nielsen told the Herald. “By slowing the spread, we have a chance to protect our family, friends and neighbors who are at risk for severe illness.”
As of March 16, restaurants and food banks in Lake County are still allowed to function if they adhere to social distancing recommendations limiting contact of people within six feet of each other, as well as environmental cleaning guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
LCPHA is testing people for COVID-19 at Rocky Mountain Family Practice and St. Vincent Hospital according to CDC parameters. If a Lake County resident tests positive, the agency said it is ready to activate Lake County’s quarantine and isolation plan.
If a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, Lake County’s pandemic plan would establish a point of dispersion site to ensure locals receive the vaccine in a timely manner. LCPHA carried out a practice pandemic plan implementation in 2016-2017.
LCPHA will remain open with limited access from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. this week. Call ahead for appointments.
Rocky Mountain Family Practice
Rocky Mountain Family Practice (RMFP) started offering virtual visits on March 16. The visits will use a HIPPA compliant video component through RMFP’s electronic medical record that will allow patients to be taken care of without leaving their home or work place.
However, the RMFP cannot do everything virtually. For example, if a blood or urine test is needed the patient will need to come to the office for sample collection. If a physical exam is necessary to make a diagnosis, those patients will also need to be seen. RMFP has always done house calls for elderly patients who can’t make it to the practice and RMFP will continue to do so.
RMFP is now offering COVID-19 testing to patients who meet certain criteria, along with St. Vincent Hospital. If a patient is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call RMFP before showing up as the practice is not doing drive-up testing.
St. Vincent Hospital
St. Vincent Hospital (SVH), along with Rocky Mountain Family Practice, is offering COVID-19 testing to patients who meet certain criteria. If a patient is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call SVH before showing up as the practice is not doing drive-up testing.
“The hospital administration and staff are prepared to serve the needs of patients who may contract the virus and will utilize mandated precautions and safety measures to minimize the spread of the disease,” Chief Branding Officer Karen Onderdonk told the Herald.
Lake County Government
All Lake County Government offices and facilities closed to the public on March 16. The facility closure, which includes the courthouse, aquatic center and library amongst others, is effective through March 22.
All Lake County Recreation Department, Lake County Library and Get Outdoors Leadville programs are suspended through March 22.
All courthouse offices will maintain services to the community via phone and email. Documents for Lake County Department of Human Services can be left in the office’s drop box at 112 W. 5th St.
Emergency response departments like the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Leadville/Lake County Fire-Rescue continue to function under specific action plans.
Access to Lake County District Court will be limited as directed by the Chief Judge of the Fifth Judicial District.
The Board of County Commissioners adopted the county’s comprehensive emergency operations plan on Monday afternoon. The board plans to reevaluate Lake County’s facility and programming closures on March 20.
The City of Leadville
City Hall closed to the public on March 16 in accordance with LCPHAs social isolation recommendations. According to Mayor Greg Labbe, all city departments will continue to work during the COVID-19 closure. Residents can access forms and pay bills on the city’s website: colorado.gov/pacific/leadville.
City Council is set to meet tomorrow night to adopt the city’s emergency operations plan.
Lake County School District
Lake County School District (LCSD) will close schools through March 27 as a precautionary public health measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Spring break for the district was already planned for March 16 through March 20.
The district’s schools were open last week with precautionary measures and enhanced cleaning protocols.
All Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) activities are suspended until April 6. According to CHSAA, “All spring sports and activities including practices will be suspended until April 6 to address concerns surrounding the on-going decisions with COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to LCSD, the district’s custodial staff will deep clean and sanitize all schools, facilities and busses during the break. LCSD also plans to provide school meals at drop-off sites in the community beginning Tuesday, March 24.
“Knowing that things are changing sometimes by the hour, we are so thankful for your patience as we work through this in an effort to do what is right for all our stakeholders,” LCSD Superintendent Wendy Wyman said.
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Mountain College (CMC) has temporarily changed operations for all campuses and locations. Changes will affect all credit and non-credit students, as well as community members and employees.
“We believe this temporary change in our operations is in the best interest of our students, our employees and our community members,” said Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, CMC president and CEO.
Students’ spring break is now extended by one week through March 20.
Beginning March 23, all credit, English as a second language and GED/HSE classes will move to an online or Webex environment for a period of three weeks, or through April 12. In early April, the college will determine whether to return to a face-to-face environment beginning April 13, or continue in a remote environment through to the end of the semester.
Effective immediately, all non-credit courses will be canceled for their duration and prorated refunds will be provided. Courses set to begin between now and April 12 are canceled, and students will be fully refunded. Non-credit courses scheduled to begin after April 12 will be subject to future determination as to whether they will run or be canceled.
All campuses closed on March 16 to give college leadership time to assess CMC’s COVID-19 response and decide whether campus buildings will remain open to faculty, staff and students.
At this time, residence halls remain open to students though CMC is encouraging students, who are able, to stay elsewhere and not return to campus until face-to-face classes resume.
CMC campuses will be closed to members of the public through April 12, including groups with planned events on campus. Campuses will reschedule the meetings or refund meeting costs.
“Making this decision was not easy, but, in an abundance of caution and to ensure that the college does not escalate conditions in our communities or among our local health providers, we felt it was the right decision at this time,” said Hauser. “We are hopeful that normal operations will return shortly, but we will nonetheless remain cautious and attentive to changing conditions.”
More information about the college’s response to the COVID-19 virus, including communications from President Hauser and frequently asked questions, can be found at https://coloradomtn.edu/covid19/.
High Mountain Institute
High Mountain Institute (HMI) students left Leadville for their home towns on March 15. Students will conduct remote learning from home through April 4; spring break will follow through April 12. HMI will make a decision about the rest of the semester at a later date.
Parkville Water District
Parkville Water District closed to the public on March 16 to prevent COVID-19 exposure. Customers can pay bills at parkvillewater.org or by phone at 719-486-1449.
Parkville staff will continue to work on infrastructure and respond to service calls as usual. According to General Manager Greg Teter, there is no threat to Parkville’s water quality or water supply.
Ski Cooper closed on Sunday after Governor Jared Polis directed all downhill ski resorts in Colorado to close operations from March 15 through March 22 in an executive order. Ski Cooper will determine whether the closure will extend beyond March 22 later this week.
“We believe this decision is in the best interest of our guests, our staff members and our communities, as we all struggle with this very serious decision,” General Manager Dan Torsell said.
Visit the Herald’s free online COVID-19 coverage at http://www.leadvilleherald.com/free_content/covid_19/ for Lake County community health updates.