People need to comply with social-distancing restrictions or they won’t be able to reduce the surge in coronavirus cases expected to hit in coming weeks, Ignacio town staff said this week.
Like other communities in La Plata County, Ignacio officials are meeting with emergency operators on a daily basis. In March, the town issued an emergency declaration and social-distancing policy changes. On Monday, the police chief reported a rise in alcohol and household disturbances, and the interim town manager, Mark Garcia, urged residents to be at least 60% compliant with social-distancing orders.
“Social distancing is the key. ... We need to have 60% compliance in order to flatten this curve,” Garcia said. “If we’re below 60%, the infection rate is spreading out way into our summer months.”
While the Front Range has seen the most cases overall, the virus is spreading within La Plata County with no identifiable origin, according to San Juan Basin Public Health. SJBPH reported 37 cases Wednesday.
“Our numbers are lower than some other areas, but it doesn’t mean that we have a true picture of the infection rate in our community,” Garcia said.
Local modeling from Mercy Regional Medical Center predicted a peak in cases toward the end of April, if everyone maintains social distancing, Garcia said. If people are not following best practices, the peak could happen later and be bigger, he said.
New modeling from the University of Colorado showed how social distancing affects the virus’ spread.
Social distancing, or the lack thereof, affects the number of new cases and deaths at the height of the outbreak, when the peak could occur and how long the outbreak could last.
If people do not reduce contact through social distancing by 60% to 70%, the epidemic will not decrease over time, according to the university’s report.
High levels of social distancing, continued throughout April, could not only flatten the curve but lead to a decline in cases and hospitalizations. In that scenario, hospital capacity would not be exceeded.
This model, one of many, is an estimate based on current information and could change as the outbreak progresses, the report said.
“If we can ... get folks to maintain 80% of their social-distancing requirements, we potentially can flatten that curve down into a June time frame,” Garcia said. “It’s really going to be a difficult two weeks for people to really hunker down and stay home.”
Crime while cooped upHome, however, might not always be a safe place. Across the state, nonprofits that serve victims of domestic violence are working overtime to prepare for an anticipated wave of women and children seeking help, according to The Colorado Sun.
Police Chief Kirk Philips said the department has seen an uptick in alcohol consumption and more household disturbances in Ignacio.
“That’s to be expected when you have these stay-at-home orders in place,” he said.
The department responded to three complaints from community members who accused “nonessential” businesses of operating in violation of a statewide shutdown order. Philips said officers looked into the complaints and said they were unfounded.
Continuing operationsIgnacio recently increased its town meetings from one to two per month on the first and third Mondays. Residents should expect to see regular COVID-19 updates during the meetings on the town’s website, on social media and at Town Hall.
The town is also working with its neighbor, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, on communicating outbreak information to the public. The effort has been going well, said Mayor Stella Cox.
Although spring cleanup is delayed, town staff members have been able to continue utility billing and other regular services while working from home or on staggered shifts in the field, Garcia said.
“Staff is working very hard to keep systems moving as normal,” he said.