From Public Health Director Alice Harvey:
We are pleased to inform the citizens of Rio Blanco County that we have achieved 'Protect Our Neighbor" certification, and were one of the first three counties in the state of Colorado to do so. Below is a summary of what this means for our community.
PON certification requires the achievement of 8 metrics related to COVID-19 containment in our county. We have demonstrated compliance with all 8 metrics. These include maintaining low case counts, ensuring adequate hospital capacity, and ensuring adequate public health response capacity. PON status authorizes the county to open all sectors and activities at 50% capacity, with large gathering caps set at 500. Every 4 weeks, as long as metrics are met, this capacity will increase by 5%. While we have been operating successfully throughout the summer under Safer at Home, this certification will allow us to focus more on local efforts to prevent and respond to COVID-19 in our community.
Many of our businesses and public events will not be affected by these new parameters, due to our small size and the nature of our rural lifestyle. It is important symbolically, however, as this certification sets a baseline for us. Case counts are monitored on a 14 day rolling period. If we rise above 7 new cases (not including outbreaks in congregate living settings) within any 14 day period, we will move out of this phase until case counts return to baseline.
Most importantly, this certification represents our ability to contain COVID in Rio Blanco County locally. It is not designed to release us from any containment efforts, and we will need to remain vigilant and strong as we move forward and look towards a vaccine (hopefully by spring 2021). We must continue working together to not only keep our case counts low, but to support our hospitals and healthcare system in maintaining capacity to care for the ill. My hope is that we can continue to support one another, the public's health, and our economy in the months to come in our own unique Rio Blanco way.
Please see the attached letter that we received from the governor's office. Thank you for your support- we could not have achieved this without all of you!" -Alice C. Harvey, MSN BSN RN, Rio Blanco County Director of Public Health and Environment