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Montezuma County declared a local health disaster emergency this week in response to the threat of the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 virus was declared a global pandemic March 11. The U.S. and Colorado also have declared it an emergency.
As of Thursday morning, it has sickened 234,000 people worldwide, and at least 9,800 have died. In the U.S., there were 11,810 cases and 179 deaths. In Colorado, there are 277 cases and two deaths. There are no confirmed cases in Southwest Colorado.
According to the Montezuma County disaster declaration, “COVID-19 is an imminent threat to the health and well being of residents and visitors, requiring emergency mitigation.”
It states the purpose of the declaration “shall be to activate the response and recovery aspects of any and all applicable local and interjurisdictional disaster emergency plans and to authorize the furnishing of aid and assistance under such plans.”
County officials said the disaster emergency determination opens the door to financial relief programs for businesses that have been impacted.
Jim Spratlen has been hired as the new Montezuma County emergency manager. He has a background in law enforcement, fire, and incident management.
“Spratlen has the experience and knowledge to step in and begin helping, and will be a great asset to our response to the COVID emergency,” said county administrator Shak Powers.
Spratlen will be responsible for the county Emergency Operations Plan, a multiyear countywide training and exercise program, the county hazard mitigation plan, and the annual emergency management budget, and other emergency programs within the county.
The county contracted a Public Information Officer Vicki Shaffer to help put out consistent and accurate information on the COVID-19 crisis.
Montezuma County is now approved to receive Small Business Association disaster low-interest loan funds to help keep businesses stay afloat.
For information and registration to sign up your business, go to https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
The Tri-city Chambers of Commerce (Cortez, Dolores and Mancos) are collaborating with other business area supporters like Region 9, Small Business Association, Montezuma County, City of Cortez and others to start ONE Business-Oriented Facebook Group to disseminate information and share ideas with other businesses.
“This is an open and public group, and we welcome everyone to join, whether or not you own a business to keep informed on what we are doing,” the chambers said in a news release.
For questions regarding assistance for Colorado businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 contact the Region 9 Economic District of Southwest Colorado business hotline via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 720-665-7439.