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Last week, Governor Polis previewed the “Safer At Home” COVID-19 strategy that began implementation on Monday, April 27. Essentially, there are four key assumptions to the epidemiological modeling behind the strategy:

  • Those 65 and older, or otherwise “vulnerable” to COVID-19, should maintain previous levels of social distancing (75-80 percent);
  • The general population is able to ease social distancing to 60-65 percent;
  • All people must wear masks or cloth face coverings in any public setting or workplace when others are nearby;
  • We must increase case identification and isolation statewide (e.g. testing and contact tracing).

The Governor also explained that the “Safer At Home” program would not prevent all illnesses and deaths. Rather, the objective is to keep the demand for medical attention and treatment within the capacity of our medical system. According to the modeling, this can only be achieved by implementing all four elements of the program simultaneously.

For Chaffee County, an acknowledged weak point in the “Safer At Home” program is the previous lack of availability of reliable, timely testing and the capacity to ensure isolation of positive cases.

Our testing capability increased significantly late last week with several major shipments of testing materials. County agencies, Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC), and private efforts continue to locate and acquire all additional testing capacity available.

The other challenge to the success of the “Safer At Home” modeling is full participation and compliance. Simply, the model doesn’t work if it is not embraced by the entire population.

All vulnerable populations [still] need to stay home. Everyone else should stay home or [continue to] reduce contact whenever possible. And all people should wear a face covering when around people outside of their household.

The “Safer At Home” program promises some economic relief to our struggling workers and businesses. In exchange, we are asked to make simple modifications to our behavior. It is a reasonable proposition, but I can only rationally support it in the context of a strong commitment from our community to implement ALL elements of the modeling. Please make that extra effort to fully comply with the program!

Greg Felt

Chair, Chaffee Board of County Commissioners