Authorities move towards social distancing strategies to mitigate spread of COVID-19
During a press briefing Thursday afternoon, Pitkin County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann said she viewed the response to COVID-19 and efforts to mitigate its spread as an approach to three components:
1: Screen and test people who may be at risk for COVID-19 and make sure they are receiving the appropriate care.
2: Trace ‘suspected positive’ cases to make sure public health and epidemiology officials understand who interacted with whom, which also includes quarantine and isolation cases.
3: Move to implement social distancing processes and practices.
This third prong has not yet been much discussed publicly, Koenemann says, but local governments are moving from a COVID-19 containment response to a community mitigation response through strategies such as social distancing as more of suspected positive cases are confirmed.
“We really want to be aggressive in our social distancing practices,” Koenemann said of Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield and Summit counties in particular.
Late Thursday evening, public health officials in all of those counties implemented more aggressive social distancing practices, issuing a public health order that goes into effect immediately, according to press releases.
The ordinance for the counties of Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield prohibits events of more than 50 people, defining an event as “a gathering for commercial, social or recreational activities”, including concerts, festivals, assemblies, events. conventions, sporting events and fundraisers. In Summit County, all city and county sponsored events that meet this definition have been canceled, and health officials have made recommendations to those who host private events.
An event does not include restaurants, as long as the restaurants meet social distancing requirements or activities that “are predominantly individual or take place in small groups or non-group settings,” such as workplaces and skiing.
“These actions are the most available and effective tools to help slow the spread of the virus in our community,” said a press release. “By slowing the spread, we have a chance to protect our family, friends and neighbors who are at risk of serious illness. ”
Social distancing is described by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as a “recommended limitation on physical contact” with other people. It can be applied voluntarily by individuals or organizations, or formally implemented during a public health emergency by a specific community or region.
The department explains that social distancing can be as simple as maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other people and not shaking hands, or more restrictive like staying home and avoiding public spaces.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes social distancing as a potential mitigation activity that can be implemented in various public places when there is a minimal to moderate level of community transmission or impact of COVID-19, listing different social distancing measures for different parameters.
The measures typically include reducing large gatherings and internal and external mixing or interactions between people, and putting in place short-term closures if necessary, the CDC website says.
Koenemann said public health officials are prioritizing protecting people at higher risk of severe or fatal cases of COVID-19, including people 60 years and older and with pre-existing or chronic health conditions ; and first responders and healthcare workers, as they are critical to COVID-19 mitigation and response.
To help protect these people and because community spread “is the next step,” Koenemann said the county is moving towards promoting social distancing and more generalized preventative guidelines instead of following specifics and links towards individual “presumed positive” cases of COVID-19.
“I don’t think we want to forget that everyone here, everyone in our community, may be empowered to take their own actions, and so that includes all the basics and things that we’ve talked about in regards to the hand washing, staying home when you are sick and what organizations can do to support their workers, ”said Koenemann.
“I think we just want to recognize that this is a community response at this point and that everyone has a role to play, from the individual to the organization, to public health and the first. stakeholders. I really want to make it clear that we’re all in the same boat right now. “
Jill Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, expressed similar thoughts on Thursday about the evolution of the state’s response to the spread of COVID-19, saying it is also directs towards more general community mitigation.
Ryan said the department is asking the most vulnerable populations not to attend social gatherings and that the state is focused on slowing the spread through strategies such as social distancing to both avoid social disruption and prevent Colorado’s medical systems from being overwhelmed by high numbers of COVID -19 cases and hospitalizations all at once.
“We don’t want everyone to be sick at the same time. … This is where the social distancing measures that we’re starting to see can be really effective, ”Ryan said Thursday. “As we begin to see the spread of this disease increase exponentially across the state, there will be a time when we can no longer trust the tests, people will just have to stay home when they are sick.” . “
This story is from AspenTimes.com.