Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Shutdowns ordered amid COVID-19 fears

 

Last updated 3/19/2020 at 5:01pm



El Paso Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mark Waller has signed a local disaster emergency declaration for the county due to developments related to COVID-19.

“The safety and well-being of our citizens is our top priority,” said Commissioner Waller. “This declaration enables us to access additional medical resources and utilize emergency procurement policies. Until further notice, people should go about their normal lives with a few modifications to help limit the spread of the disease.”

Primarily, this declaration will allow El Paso County to activate the Medical Reserve Corp., which can help alleviate the burden for medical personnel. In addition, it will also help local medical providers obtain personal protective equipment.

El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) began monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in December and activated an incident command on Feb. 14. The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic on March 11. That same day, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a State of Emergency. On Friday, an El Paso County resident—a woman in her 80s with a known medical history—succumbed to the disease.

“Our community is strong and we can face this challenge together,” Waller stated. “Now more than ever, it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19: stay home if you’re sick, thoroughly wash your hands, avoid close contact with people with flu-like symptoms, clean and disinfect surfaces frequently, sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and avoid touching your face.”

(EPCPH) has learned that the woman who died from COVID-19 on March 13 attended bridge games at Colorado Springs Bridge Center from Feb. 27 through March 3. EPCPH and the Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPHE) are releasing this information in the interest of public health.

If you or a close contact attended the Colorado Springs Bridge Center between late February and early March, and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing), call your health care provider immediately. Please do not show up to a medical facility prior to calling ahead.

Cancellations/closures

The following organizations or businesses are now closed or have limited public availability. Please note, this list is NOT all inclusive and changes daily, and sometimes hourly. We advise you to seek information from specific offices directly.

Schools

Both Widefield School District 3 and Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 joined other El Paso County school districts in closing all school facilities for a period of 14 days, including this week and the already scheduled spring break next week.

Officials said this is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of infection. Districts will reassess the situation as they get closer to that end date, and decide if students and staff should return on Monday, March 30. Superintendents will be calling on the Colorado Department of Education for flexibility on mandatory seat time and state testing requirements.

Officials attribute the move to an unprecedented public health crisis in our community and said, “The decision to close our school district was extremely difficult, made in consultation with all area Superintendents and out of an abundance of caution for our families. We know that closing our schools will have a significant impact on our families, but we also believe that strong, urgent action must be taken to prevent the spread of this disease and to protect lives.”

During the closure, all schools, district facilities and buses will undergo additional deep cleanings with recommended disinfectants.

In a letter to parents, WSD3 Superintendent Scott Campbell said students will be receiving instructional materials and directions.

“Our goal is always to protect the safety, health and wellness of our students, staff and families,” added Campbell. “Our strength as a community is our greatest asset. We can work together to protect each other and slow the progression of COVID-19.

We will continue to remain in contact with public health officials, elected leaders and neighboring school districts and keep you updated with new information as it becomes available. Please continue to check your email, WSD3 website (wsd3.org), mobile app, social media, and text for updates. We thank you for your support and partnership in this effort.”

Meals

Widefield School District 3 will be providing meals for children up to 18 years of age through Friday, March 27 (excluding weekends).

The District will provide one “Grab-and-Go” meal bag (containing breakfast and lunch) per day, per child from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the following sites:

• Watson Junior High

136 Fontaine Blvd

Colorado Springs, CO 80911

(Pick-up at the front entrance)

• Sproul Junior High

235 Sumac Dr.

Colorado Springs, CO 80911

(Pick-up at the front entrance)

• Janitell Junior High

7635 Fountain Mesa Rd.

Fountain, CO 80817

(Pick-up behind school,)

Please do not stay on site to consume those meals. This is a pick-up service only. Please drive through carefully.

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 is providing meals for all children in the community, under the age of 18, during the two-week closure. Meals will be provided this week through Friday, March 20, and Monday, March 23 – Friday, March 27 between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. at the following sites:

• Aragon Elementary

211 S. Main Street

Fountain, CO 80817

• Mountainside Elementary

5506 Harr Ave.

Fort Carson, CO 80902

Meals will contain a cold breakfast and lunch. This service is available for all children in the community under the age of 18. Children must be present to receive the meals.

Other food resources

Community Food Banks:

Connections 4 Life (Thursday at 5:30 PM): 6436 US-85, Fountain, CO 80817, 719-387-9919

REACH Pikes Peak (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9 AM - 2 PM): 501 E Iowa Ave, Fountain, CO 80817, 719-382-8515

Soup Kitchen United Methodist Church (Every Friday at 4 PM): 1003 N. Santa Fe Ave, Fountain, CO 80817

Widefield Parks and Rec

The Widefield Parks & Recreation office and pool are closed and plan to re-open on March 30. All programs, classes and activities during this time are cancelled.

Please visit the website for a list of each program and details associated, https://parksandrec.wsd3.org/information/closure-notice

Staff will have access to email during the closure and will respond as soon as possible.

Fountain Valley Senior Center – Closed for the month; meal service through Silver Key under evaluation and will be updated. Transportation available for serious needs only through (719) 884-2300.

Restaurants

All restaurants have been ordered by the state to close their dine-in facilities for 30 days. Many will continue to offer drive-thru, carry-out or delivery services.

Other entertainment and recreation facilities fall under the same order, including gyms, movie theaters, and similar venues where crowds congregate. Please call individual venues to confirm if open.

City Services

The City of Fountain continues to closely monitor, coordinate and work with regional health authorities, school districts, Fort Carson and others in the region as the situation continues to evolve with the Coronavirus. In the interest of the safety and health of the Fountain community, the City is adjusting the following City services:

Beginning Monday, the lobby of the Fountain Utilities Customer Service Center has closed and all in-home services will be suspended until further notice.

Service Requests:

Contact the office by phone or email during normal business hours at (719) 322-2010 or [email protected]

To Make a Payment:

Go online or by phone, using the automated pay-by-phone service.

If digital means are not accessible to you, please use:

• Drive-thru located at the Customer Service Center, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday

• Payment Drop Boxes: Customer Service Center; Safeway; and, Wal-Mart on Highway 85. (no cash please)

• Pay Near Me - Visit any Family Dollar or 7-Eleven nationwide and present your bill stub to make a payment. Services are cash only, and available nationwide.

City Recreation is postponing all basketball and indoor soccer programs until April 6. More information will be made available as the situation develops.

The Fountain Recycling Center at 301 E. Iowa Ave. will be temporarily closed. The center plans to open again as scheduled on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, depending on the situation. Residents can contact the Neighborhood Services Dept. at 719-322-2032.

City of Fountain Transit service has taken additional measures to protect riders and drivers. Transit was running at press time.

Code Compliance Officers will be observing “social distancing” practices whenever possible by limiting citizen contacts to phone call, e-mail, and use of the on-line “virtual City Hall” system. This system may be accessed by visiting http://www.fountaincolorado.org and clicking on the MY FOUNTAIN logo at top of the homepage.

Response to Citizens’ complaints received during this time period will be based on effect to the safety, health, and welfare to citizens and neighborhood.

Code Compliance Officers will grant extensions for compliance as appropriate. Citizens with an upcoming court appearance should contact Fountain Municipal Court at 719-322-2045 for possible changes to their court date.

Code Compliance Division main phone line is 719-322-2032 and messages are checked daily.

Changes to other Neighborhood Services programs are:

• Child car seat safety checks and assistance with installation is suspended through the end of the month.

• Scheduled Neighborhood Clean-up Projects are suspended through the end of the month.

Broadmoor World Arena and Pikes Peak Center – Closed; all events through April 13 are suspended.

For the status of all of the events, visit PikesPeakCenter.com/ShowUpdates and continue to check the websites, BroadmoorWorldArena.com and PikesPeakCenter.com for specific updates on each event through April 13.

The venues ask all ticket purchasers to hold on to their tickets as they work with their partners on rescheduling events

. . .

Colorado Symphony – All performances through April 12 suspended.

All events at Denver-owned venues, including Red Rocks Amphitheatre (and Visitor Center), Denver Coliseum, Colorado Convention Center, Denver Performing Arts Complex including Boettcher Concert Hall, and the McNichols Civic Center Building, have been suspended through April 12 in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, McNichols Civic Center Building will be closed to the public through April 12.

Pikes Peak Regional Building Authority – Closed through March; remote services offered; staff available by phone.

The department has closed its office(s) to prevent physical contact with the public, but continues remote operations (electronically and telephonically) as possible, with priority given to emergency responders and their facilities, emergency work projects, and large commercial projects. The Department takes this affirmative and very proactive action in attempt to help limit the spread of the disease.

Specific to plan reviews, permits, licensing, or inspections, contact the following Department staff:

• Plan review matters, contact: Jay Eenhuis, Deputy Building Official – Plans, (719) 492-0169, [email protected]

• Permitting and licensing matters, contact: Matt Matzen, Permit and Licensing Supervisor, (719) 492-7371, [email protected]

• Inspection matters, contact: John Welton, Deputy Building Official – Inspections, (719) 964-4659, [email protected]

Libraries

Security Public Library closed starting Monday. Online services remain available, and late fees will not apply.

“We will reassess the situation as we get closer to that end date, and decide if we will reopen on April 1st to the public,” Library Director Susan Schmitz-Garrett said. “SPL offers a wide variety of digital and downloadable services available on our website including e-books, audio books, movies, music and more. Visit securitypubliclibrary.org and the library Facebook page. Patrons can also e-mail [email protected] with any questions or concerns.”

“Our goal is always to protect the safety, health and wellness of our patrons and staff. Our strength as a community is our greatest asset. We can work together to protect each other and slow the progression of COVID-19. We will continue to remain in contact with public health officials, elected leaders and neighboring school districts and keep you updated with new information as it becomes available.”

Pikes Peak Library District has closed all locations, including Fountain, until further notice.

In the meantime, here are some ways that you can use the Library remotely, with all resources available 24/7:

• Download the mobile app to view your account, browse and download from the library’s collection.

• Stream and/or download from the digital collection at ppld.org/elibrary. Digital copies of books, audiobooks, comics, magazines, music and videos are available.

• Numerous online services make research, genealogy, homework help and much more available to patrons.

• Don’t have a library card? Get started and gain online access today.

Miscellaneous closures

A meeting planned for March 18 at Fountain City Hall regarding the Fountain Creek Greenway master plan has been postponed until April 15.

Effective immediately, Ybarra's Boxing Club will close its doors until March 31.

The Fountain Valley Historical Society and Museum is closed until further notice.

The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments houses a variety of programs including the Area Agency on Aging (AAA). The AAA provides information, resources and services to older adults. Our services provide support through Senior Insurance Assistance (SHIP), Family Caregiver Support Center, Information and Assistance and Ombudsman. During this time while the physical building is closed, the following information is available:

Area Agency on Aging services: The Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging is working with service providers and community partners to streamline services and funding during this ever-evolving situation, to insure older adults and their family’s needs continue to be met. If you, or an older adult you know, are unsure where to reach out for services, please call our Information & Assistance line at (719) 471-2096. Please leave a detailed message and you will be contacted as soon as possible.

Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments: PPACG’s essential business functions continue. Staff are teleworking until further notice. If you call our offices, expect to leave a message and staff will respond as promptly as possible. If you email our office you should receive a response as normal.

Until further notice, all PPACG-hosted meetings will be held remotely via phone or video conference. Keep an eye on email invitations, our website and calendar for participation details related to specific meetings.

If you have questions on any of the above, please email [email protected]

NEW UPDATES AS OF MARCH 19:

Overview

El Paso County Public Health reported the second death from COVID-19 in the county on Thursday. The individual who died was a male in his 60s and was identified as a contact of the previous case, who passed away the previous week.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends, and we are very saddened by this news,” said Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health Director. “Our team, including members of the public health system, are working around the clock to take proactive steps to help limit and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and we ask that residents join us in doing their part. We know these are difficult times, but we are strong, and we will get through this together.”

If you are experiencing mild symptoms or suspect you were exposed, please stay home and avoid contact with others, officials said. Only call your health care provider if your symptoms become more severe, especially if you are experiencing shortness of breath. If at any time you feel you are having a medical emergency, call 911, and tell the dispatcher your symptoms.

Testing will be prioritized for older adults and those with underlying health conditions, those who are hospitalized, and health care workers. At this time, not everyone with symptoms will be tested in an effort to protect our most vulnerable populations and health care, workers.

The following phone numbers and email are recommended for those with questions.

• Call CO HELP at 1-877-462-2911 or email [email protected]

• Call the local call center at 719-575-8888

CLOSINGS

Gov. Jared Polis has signed several public health orders mandates closures of specific places. On Thursday, he announced a 30-day ban on gatherings of 10 people or more, including sports, churches, and festivals. The order does NOT apply to courts, public transit, grocery stores, and other essential services.

All restaurants, bars, movie theaters, fitness centers, performance venues, and casinos are closed through April.

Delivery, pick-up, takeout and drive-thrus are OK and encouraged.

Pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores and food pantries may remain open.

Many bank lobbies are closed, but drive-up service is available. Check with your specific branch for details.

Effective immediately, Ybarra's Boxing Club will close its doors until at least March 31.

The Fountain Valley Historical Society and Museum is closed until further notice.

Catholic Charities of Central Colorado

The charity has closed facilities to and made service adjustments in the wake of COVID-19. Services will continue, and the situation will be reassessed at the end of the month based on CDC and government recommendations.

The Marian House Soup Kitchen is closed to congregant dining in accordance with Governor Polis’ March 16 directive regarding restaurant service in Colorado. A sack lunch is distributed each day from 11 a.m. to noon. If the community would like to donate items for sack lunches, please deliver them to the dock M – F from 10 – 11 a.m., or order online from businesses such as Amazon and have them delivered. Items needed are: Brown or white paper sandwich bags; plastic grocery bags; plastic spoons; styrofoam containers such as coffee cups with lids (for fruit salad or other liquid foods); granola bars; single-serve chips; peanut butter & jelly; sliced bread; apples and oranges; lunch meat; canned tuna & chicken; mustard & mayo; sandwich bags; nitrile food service gloves in any size.

Marian House Client Services on West Bijou Street is closed to walk-in visitors. Clients should call 719.866.6282 for assistance. Please leave a message. For clients needing mail pickup, and expecting delivery of a birth certificate, driver’s license or check, please call 719.866.6435

The Hanifen Employment Center, Community Outreach, food box delivery, hiring events, job fairs, all classes, and all partner agency services including the SET Medical Clinic, the Penrose-St Francis Faith Community Nurse, AspenPointe have been temporarily suspended at the Marian House Complex.

Family Connections at the Helen Hunt Campus (East Moreno Avenue) is working with current clients through telecommunications and an online ordering system for emergency services New emergency assistance inquiries are asked to leave a message at 719.578.1222 with reliable call back or email information or email [email protected] and a Life Coach will contact them within 24 - 48 business hours, Monday - Friday. The children’s clothing closet is closed. All early literacy, infant massage, parenting and other classes have been temporarily canceled. Showers, laundry services and COPE assistance are suspended until further notice.

Life Connections Pregnancy Support Services and Counseling Services will continue to work with current clients. If you would like to get information regarding entering into counseling, please call 719.866.6535 and leave a message.

Family Immigration Services will provide services through counselors working from home. For future appointments, to speak with your counselor regarding current status of your case, or more information, please call 719.866.6515

English as a Second Language classes and Citizenship classes have been temporarily canceled. However, case management will be handled via teleconferencing, phone, text message or email. For appointments, call 719.866.6515.

Connections 4 Life Center

The food pantry is stocked and open for business during regular hours with some important changes. They will be conducting business through a drive-up line only. No one will be allowed into the building.

Premade boxes include milk, eggs, meat, fruit, and vegetables. Please look for staff onsite to give you further directions.

“We have taken every precaution and made every effort to make sure that our facility is cleaned and disinfected,” a spokesperson said. “All volunteers will handle every box with the utmost care and precaution. We will continue in this manner until further notice.”

Parks

Rainbow Falls Historic Site – The spring opening of the Rainbow Falls Historic Site has been delayed. Please check http://www.elpasocountyparks.com for updates.

Fountain Creek Nature Center is temporarily closed to public access until April 6, with an extension of the closure possible. The trails are still open to the public. All public programs between now and April 6 are canceled.

Contact Fountain Creek Nature Center at 719-520-6745 for more information.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

While the park remains open for day use, camping, and other recreational activities, staff are following the Center for Disease Control's recommendation to practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 and have cancelled any scheduled activities and educational programming for the remainder of March.

The park offers a handful of self-guided activities that can still be enjoyed while visiting the park.

Visit the website Geocaching.com and try your hand at locating one of the park's numerous caches. Geocaching uses technology along with your navigational skills to go on a treasure hunt. You can follow the adventures of a traveling "bug," log your own adventures as you go, or collect and replace prized "treasures" from the different cache styles.

Download the free app, Agents of Discovery, to your phone and allow Agent Black Bear to take you on a guided hike to discover the wildlife that calls the park home.

Take our Trail Challenge and attempt to complete all 21.87 miles of trails in the park! Log all trails and earn a Patch. Not enough of a challenge? Complete 100 miles of trail within the park to earn a Challenge Coin.

Current trail conditions: Recent moisture will result in muddy trails. Please be respectful and stay off trails while they have unfavorable conditions. Check social media for the latest trail conditions.

 

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