Welcome to the SLV Emergency Website

This website is maintained by the SLV Emergency Operations Center Committee to support emergency preparedness and response in the six counties of the San Luis Valley. When we are supporting an emergency or disaster situation, we will post updates on this page.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

May 22, 2020 Daily Update

One new COVID case was identified today for Costilla County, bringing the total cumulative positive case count to 114. Numbers are updated weekdays at slvemergency.org/slv-covid-19/.

Residents of Center are especially encouraged to stay at home as much as possible right now, as there is elevated spread of the virus in that area. In just 3 weeks, known cases of COVID-19 in Rio Grande and Saguache Counties jumped from 10 cumulative cases to 53, with almost all of the 43 new cases in the Center area. The virus spreads easily in social gatherings and it is possible to spread the virus even if you don’t feel sick. Wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others when you are out in public. Wash your hands frequently. If you are sick you must stay at home, do not visit friends or family, do not go to work, and do not go to the store. 

Individuals with COVID symptoms are encouraged to call one of the nurse-lines below to start the screening process.

• Rio Grande Hospital 719-657-4990

• SLV Health Nurse Line 719-589-2511 ext. 9

• Valley Wide Health Systems 719-589-3658 ext. 9

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 719-589-3671, or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255). After business hours, please call 911 or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255. You can also find resources at www.colorado.gov/ruralmentalhealth

SLV COVID general questions 719-480-8719. You may also email your questions to slvepr@alamosacounty.org.

By slveadmin on 05/22/2020 10:05 PM

May 21, 2020 Daily Update

Three new cases have been identified through testing and contact tracing today for the SLV. Seventy cases are currently “active” meaning they are symptomatic and have been advised to isolate. Fourty-three total cases have completed isolation. Three SLV residents with COVID-19 have passed away. Numbers are updated weekdays at slvemergency.org/slv-covid-19/.

Public Health and healthcare partners continue to address the outbreak situation primarily concentrated in Center, CO. Friday, May 22nd, Valley Wide Health Systems will conduct testing for individuals in the community. Test slots for this round are full, but more testing will be announced next week. Today local Public Health, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Valley Wide and other partners met to coordinate follow-up that occurs after testing. They also discussed how to best conduct a comprehensive educational outreach program to the affected populations. SLV partners have been key to both of these efforts so far, but we anticipate needing even more assistance in the weeks ahead.

With the Memorial Weekend approaching, many are modifying their usual holiday plans in order to stay safe during this pandemic. Unless there is a variance in the county detailing otherwise, restaurants must still remain closed to sit down dining under Safer at Home. For now, carry-out is an option that will allow us to support local restaurants. On Tuesday, May 26th, the Governor is expected to make an announcement regarding restaurants, as well as Spring-season skiing on ski resorts, and summer residential and day camps. 

A reminder to those who have tested negative: A negative test on one day does not guarantee that a person will not develop the illness or spread it at a later date. Because community spread is still occurring in the Valley, we encourage all individuals to continue to be cautious and follow Public Health guidance until notified otherwise.

Recently, there has been some concern about a COVID-19 related illness in children called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CDPHE alerted health care providers to be on the lookout for this illness and to report any suspected cases to state public health. According to Dr. Sam Dominguez, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Children’s Hospital, “It’s important to emphasize that this emerging inflammatory syndrome is very rare, and that it is safe to take your child to their doctor or to the hospital, if needed.” 

Individuals with COVID symptoms are encouraged to call one of the nurse-lines below to start the screening process.

• Rio Grande Hospital 719-657-4990

• SLV Health Nurse Line 719-589-2511 ext. 9

• Valley Wide Health Systems 719-589-3658 ext. 9

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 719-589-3671, or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255). After business hours, please call 911 or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255. You can also find resources at www.colorado.gov/ruralmentalhealth

SLV COVID general questions 719-480-8719. You may also email your questions to slvepr@alamosacounty.org.

By slveadmin on 05/21/2020 11:05 PM

May 20, 2020 Daily Update

Saguache County confirmed their first COVID-19 related fatality today, bringing the total deaths in the SLV to three. Four more cases have been confirmed positive, bringing the total number for the SLV to 110. County case counts and other San Luis Valley data are updated weekdays at slvemergency.org/slv-covid-19.

In Emergency Management, one of the main focuses is Recovery, what to do after the crisis is over. When there’s a fire, flood, or other natural disaster, there is usually a clear beginning, middle, and end. Public Health emergencies are a different kind of disaster in that they are often long-term. The Governor says, “This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon,” and like a marathon, we need to pace ourselves. That is why local governments are seeking a balanced, gradual approach to reopening. While it seems to many that the major crisis is ramping down or even over, Public Health activity is starting to ramp up as response efforts begin to bring results. Our focus at this point needs to be on stability, rather than recovery.

Since May is Mental Health Awareness month, it is a good time to acknowledge that everyone processes difficulties in their own away. This pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone. We haven’t been able to gather and mingle freely as we are accustomed to doing. For some, it has been devastating, whether by loss of a loved one, loss of livelihood, or loss of sleep due to anxiety. Public officials have laid awake night after night trying to make good decisions in a situation where there are no easy alternatives. We are used to thinking of disasters as things that come and go quickly, like a fire or an earthquake. This disaster is different. It came, and it’s staying around for a good long while. We don’t exactly know yet how it will go. It’s been rough, and that is the hard truth.

We ask you, our community, to remember that there are people suffering on every side of this. Our job in Public Health is to promote the best and most current scientifically supported ways we know to keep our community healthy. Some will agree, others will not. Personal responsibility is the key, and our hope is that our collective choices will put our valley on a solid path to health and economic recovery and keep it there. Let’s be respectful and kind.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 719-589-3671, or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255). After business hours, please call 911 or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255. 

Individuals with COVID symptoms are encouraged to call one of the nurse-lines below to start the screening process.

• Rio Grande Hospital 719-657-4990

• SLV Health Nurse Line 719-589-2511 ext. 9

• Valley Wide Health Systems 719-589-3658 ext. 9

SLV COVID general questions 719-480-8719. You may also email your questions to slvepr@alamosacounty.org

By slveadmin on 05/20/2020 10:05 PM

May 19, 2020 Daily Update

 Today, including results returned from the outbreak in Center, there is now a total number of positive cases for the SLV of 106. Sixteen of those cases were hospitalized, and 32 have completed isolation. County case counts and other San Luis Valley data are updated weekdays at slvemergency.org/slv-covid-19.

Public health agencies in Rio Grande County and Saguache County continue to follow up on the outbreak at the Mountain King Spud Growers potato warehouse facility in Center. An outbreak is defined as two or more positive COVID cases in a workplace or other non-household facility or group.  Valley Wide Health Systems collaborated to support employee testing. So far 25 positive test results have been received related to this outbreak. Those results will affect overall COVID-19 case counts in Saguache, Rio Grande, and Alamosa Counties. Mountain King has decided to voluntarily close the facility for an additional 14 days for cleaning, as well as to encourage needed isolation and quarantine to prevent further spread of the virus. Employees who have tested positive should be isolating themselves from others. Household members and other close contacts of those who have tested positive should also self-quarantine at home. Those in isolation and those in quarantine should not leave home for any reason except to seek medical care as directed by their medical provider. 

Reopening the SLV:

It has now been a few weeks since our first non-essential businesses reopened and both the public and business owners have started adjusting to this new phase. Many businesses are working hard to keep their workplaces healthy for customers and their staff, and more people have returned to work. In the coming weeks, we anticipate seeing more gradual re-openings. The Great Sand Dunes National Park in Alamosa County announced they will begin a phased reopening on June 3rd. On May 25th, the State will decide if restaurants can begin reopening and at what level. In June, the State will decide what additional things can be phased back in. In the meantime, the State is continuing to review proposals submitted by Colorado counties to vary from the Governor’s Safer-at-Home Order, primarily seeking looser restrictions. So far, four counties in the SLV have submitted variances, and two have been approved.

Why submit a variance? 

Many local communities in Colorado, particularly rural areas, differ greatly in their economic dynamics from the Front Range or from the state as a whole. What works best for them is not necessarily what will work best for us. Local governments have the freedom to implement rules that are more restrictive than the state order, but loosening restrictions requires a formal variance approved by the state. Each County considers the risks and benefits inherent in applying for looser restrictions, including the at-risk populations living there, as well as the economic consequences of keeping businesses closed. Some counties decide that a variance is in the best interest, and decide to pursue a variance. 

How does the variance process work? 

County governments determine the requirements necessary to meet goals that balance the risk of disease exposure with economic recovery. If the decision is to pursue a variance from the current statewide orders, it is drafted, reviewed by the County Attorney, and submitted to the State. Certain criteria need to be met before approval by the State: 

  • The jurisdiction needs to have very low case counts and/or demonstrate proof of 14 consecutive days of decline of infection of COVID-19 in the jurisdiction.
  • The application must include a written COVID-19 suppression plan approved by the appropriate local public health authority, all hospitals within the jurisdiction and elected leadership. 

More information on the variance process can be found here: http://ccionline.org/health-and-human-services/resources-for-counties/

What about the SLV variances?

Currently, Mineral County and Rio Grande County have approved variances. Today, Rio Grande County Public Health released a new Order in line with the variance. The variance is specific for RV parks, places of worship, restaurants, and gyms, and each has a separate set of restrictions which must be met. These entities may now open at a specified capacity, but that may change if a certain data threshold is reached in the future, as determined by the Rio Grande County Board of Health. The full text can be found on their website: www.rgcph.org. Alamosa and Saguache Counties have also submitted variances and these are still being reviewed by the State. 

More on Testing:

Yesterday Governor Polis emphasized the expanded availability of testing in Colorado. In the San Luis Valley, public health and local partners have determined that the most efficient way to do testing for the general public is through our local health care providers. The State’s map for testing sites omits our local providers in the SLV, and we are working to correct that omission. Earlier in the pandemic, supplies were more limited and the criteria for testing was much more restrictive than it is now. Symptomatic individuals are encouraged to call one of the nurse-lines below to start the screening process.

  • Rio Grande Hospital 719-657-4990
  • SLV Health Nurse Line 719-589-2511 ext. 9
  • Valley Wide Health Systems 719-589-3658 ext. 9

SLV COVID general questions 719-480-8719. You may also email your questions to slvepr@alamosacounty.org.

By slveadmin on 05/20/2020 12:05 AM

MAY 18, 2020 UPDATE

In an effort to address local economic needs, several SLV counties have requested variances from portions of the Governor’s current Safer at Home Public Health Order. Silver Thread Public Health District announced yesterday that their variance request was approved. We will have more information tomorrow about new and pending variances for additional counties in the Valley. 

Conejos County Public Health is investigating possible COVID-19 exposures at the Conejos County Jail. One employee has been confirmed to have the virus. Close contacts of the confirmed positive employee have been instructed to isolate at home, monitor symptoms, and be tested.  Due to use of masks, proper cleaning and hygiene, and limited contact, inmates are at relatively low risk. Right now, there is no outbreak at any facility in Conejos County. Conejos County Public Health is actively monitoring the situation and updates will be available soon.

This week is National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week. We would like to recognize and congratulate our local EMS agencies in their efforts to keep people alive, and especially their willingness to continue during the COVID pandemic. They put their own lives at risk every day to help save others. 

We would also like to recognize the difficult work of Alamosa County Public Health in helping to contain the recent outbreak in Alamosa County. Mushroom Farm employees have been diligent in keeping themselves and each other healthy by carefully following public health recommendations. Several of them have now completed their isolation periods successfully.

Today, there were no confirmed positive tests, so our number remains at 76. Fifteen of those cases were hospitalized, and thirty-four have completed isolation. County case counts and other San Luis Valley data are updated weekdays at slvemergency.org/slv-covid-19.

Last week we reported in error that the SLV had a 22% COVID-19 testing positivity rate.  We re-evaluated the data and updated it with increased testing data over the weekend. As a region, our positivity rate right now is just above 10%, which means we are in line with recommended testing levels, although Alamosa and Saguache counties are significantly higher at 15% and 19% respectively when measured separately. The higher the percentage, the greater the need for more testing. The more testing we do, the more accurate the numbers become.

ALL symptomatic individuals are now encouraged to pursue testing. Please call one of the nurse-lines below to start the screening process.

• Rio Grande Hospital 719-657-4990

• SLV Health Nurse Line 719-589-2511 ext. 9

• Valley Wide Health Systems 719-589-3658 ext. 9
SLV COVID general questions 719-480-8719. You may also email your questions to slvepr@alamosacounty.org.

By slveadmin on 05/18/2020 11:05 PM