Following the identification of several cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County and Gov. Jared Polis' announcement that community spread of the disease has occurred in Colorado, Jefferson County Public …
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Following the identification of several cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County and Gov. Jared Polis' announcement that community spread of the disease has occurred in Colorado, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is recommending that large gatherings in the county be postponed or conducted virtually. That recommendation comes after Gov. Jared Polis previously banned all gatherings across the state of more than 250 people.
“Please note that while the state is recommending groups be kept below 250 individuals, it is also very important to consider sufficient distance between individuals (at least 6 feet),” said Jefferson County's Incident Commander and Emergency Response Coordinator Christine Billings. “This is as important as group size.”
Billings also said it is important for employers to be responsible for taking steps to make it more feasible for employees to “work in ways that minimize close contact with large numbers of people,” including both coworkers and clients they serve.
Among the organizations grappling with how best to respond to the everchanging crisis is Jeffco itself. For the time being, that has meant asking employees to take health and safety precautions as they continue to report to work.
“Really, overall, the county as a whole is operating under normal operating procedure other than what everybody else is doing with washing hands, refraining from touching hands and just trying to practice some of the social distancing while still getting some business done,” Story said.
However, Story said the county is following the guidance and recommendations of JCPH and could take additional steps, such as closing offices and requiring county employees work from home. The county's business operations and technology team has also been working to make sure the county is prepared to have employees work from home as necessary.
“We are just not there yet,” said Story of a possible move to mandating work from home. “We are waiting on a mandate from public health.”
One aspect of the county that is being particularly impacted by COVID-19 is the county fairgrounds. Story said organizers have already chosen to cancel five upcoming events at the county fairgrounds and the county is now planning to contact the organizers of remaining events through mid-April to recommend they cancel or reschedule events too.
However, Story said the county cannot require events that will be attended by less than 250 people be canceled without a directive from JCPH.
Elderly people are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and many of the facilities and organizations that cater to them are taking particular precautions. Among them is the Seniors' Resource Center, which provides transportation, in-home care services and adult day programs in Jefferson County. Seniors' Resource Center President and CEO Chris Lynn said that while SRC has always had high standards regarding cleanliness and other precautions, the agency is now screening people for illness.
“Our basic change is that now we have to really ask people direct questions and screen them more to make sure people are not sick when they are coming into our facilities or have someone coming into their homes,” Lynn said.
Lynn also said the organization is seeing a greater number of SRC's regular seniors not come in for programs, due to concerns about exposing themselves to the virus. In general, anxiety seems to be running high among the senior population.
“I think our staff is definitely finding the older adults we care for are feeling a lot of anxiety around this,' Lynn said.
Here is a look at how other Jeffco organizations and facilities have responded to COVID-19, including information about closings and cancelations.
With colleges across the state and country moving their classes online, Colorado School of Mines announced on March 11 that it would close its classrooms to do the same, According to a statement from Mines president Paul C. Johnson, class meetings would be cancelled the week of March 16-20. Mine's scheduled spring break will then take place from March 23-27 with all classes being delivered online starting on March 30 and continuing through the end of the semester. But although classes will no longer be taught in-person for the remainder of the semester, many campus facilities will remain open for students. However, most campus locations are now closed to the general public.
Red Rocks Community College president Michele Haney announced on March 12 that no classes would be held the week of March 16-20. RRCC's scheduled spring break will take place from March 23-27. Remote instruction will then begin on March 30, with instructors using the extra time off to make arrangements for remote instruction and exams for their classes.
Denver Events and Venues announced on March 13 that all events at city of Denver-owned venues, including Red Rocks Amphitheater have been suspended through April 12. Ticketholders will be notified about cancellations, rescheduling and refunds through ticket provider AXS.
Golden's Miner's Alley Playhouse announced that it is postponing its production of Moon Over Buffalo, which was set to begin it's run on March 20. Customers who have bought tickets for the show will receive a credit on their account, which they will be able to use to purchase any tickets for any future show once Miner's Alley reopens, as well as a free drink at the bar. Miner's Alley has also paid the cast and crew in full for the show.
All ticketed performances at the Arvada Center through April 2 are postponed or canceled. The Arvada Center is reaching out to ticketholders about rescheduling or refunds.
Jefferson County Public Libraries
As of March 15, all Jefferson County Public Libraries locations are closed until further notice, even book drop-offs. Due dates will be extended and fines and fees will be waived.
Colorado Mills Mall
Colorado Mills remains open. A message on the mall's website explains that cleaning crews have been increased and that more cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing is now occuring throughout the day.
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