Mineral County applies for regional COVID-19 Protect Your Neighbor status


MINERAL COUNTY- In a meeting held by Mineral County Commissioners Monday, Oct. 5, the board received an update from Silver Thread Public Health Director Tara Hardy about an application the county will be filing with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to move into a Protect Your Neighbor status Friday, Oct. 9.


Hardy began the discussion by giving an update on COVID-19 in Mineral County and the surrounding area. “Alamosa is sitting around 13 new cases as of today, Monday, Oct. 5. It puts our positivity rate a little below 1% which is still good, but it puts our total number of cases for the Valley over 21 cases. We are at about 19 total over a two week period which is kind of what we were shooting for, so it is kind of unclear how that will impact our application for Protect Your Neighbor.”


Hardy continued to state that she wanted to discuss the Protect Your Neighbor application with the board before the department moved forward with submitting it to the state. “We are using that regional approach for several different reasons. One of the main ones is because we share a health care system and some of the matrixes that Protect Your Neighbor uses, we have to meet eight different matrix, one of them is the hospitalization rates and their ability to handle any kind of surge in that area. It also adds stability to our response and lessens the likely hood that we would need to shift back and forth should we have outbreaks.”


In the plan it states, “The purpose of this COVID-19 Mitigation and Containment Plan is to support a locally viable and sustainable approach to COVID-19 response in the San Luis Valley Region and a move to Protect Our Neighbor. It outlines monitoring procedures, interventions, and trigger points for county and regional level actions. The San Luis Valley Region includes the counties of Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache. Implementation of this plan will run concurrently with planning for prioritized distribution of vaccinations when a vaccine becomes available.


Roles and Responsibilities - Each County Public Health Director or designee will take primary responsibility for monitoring data to ensure compliance and will provide regular updates to their County Board of Health. Due to the regional nature of our health care system, the San Luis Valley Region has adopted a regional approach to risk assessment and monitoring. The Regional Department Operations Center maintains a shared spreadsheet, updated weekdays that has been modified to include the pertinent measures for each Local Public Health Agency (LPHA) in the region. This spreadsheet is updated daily by our Regional Epidemiologist, our Healthcare Coalition Response Coordinator, a liaison to our local hospitals, and Public Health Agencies. Data is gathered with regional assistance, and decision-making authority remains at the county level.


Promotion of Public Compliance with Guidelines - In all interactions with community members and partners, Local Public Health Agencies promote compliance with current guidelines, including social distancing, mask wearing and hygiene. Local Public Health Agencies are actively involved with helping businesses and community partners to comply with guidelines, and this effort is strengthened by our Regional Environmental Health program. Public information and education are ongoing at both the local and regional levels, coordinated through a Regional Joint Information Center.


As a region, Public Health issues a weekly update press release to the community; maintains a website updated daily that includes information on prevention as well as local statistics; and disseminates public information regularly through social media with a following that is equivalent to approximately 16% of our regional population.” Commissioner Ramona Weber made a motion to approve the application which was seconded by Commissioner Scott Lamb and passed by Chairman Commissioner Jesse Albright.

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