Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

The latest update on COVID-19

 

Last updated 4/1/2020 at 9:39am



The big news this week was the “stay-at-home” public health order (PHO) that went into effect March 26. Among other things, this document:

• Orders people to stay at home unless they are engaged in certain necessary activities;

• Outlines what businesses and activities are exempt from the order;

• Requires people to follow social distancing rules when going out for necessary activities; and

• Requires people to self-isolate if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

“The intent of this PHO is to minimize contact between residents, and to the great extent possible minimize the exposure of the public to contaminated public surfaces,” the order states. “By staying home we can maximize the number of people isolating in place, reduce the number of people congregating in workplaces at one time, reduce the proximity of people in the workplace and enable the services, businesses and travel necessary to protect public health and safety; and preserve the continuity of social and commercial life as we save lives.”

People at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are urged to stay home at all times except as necessary to seek medical care.

Individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate until their symptoms cease or until they have a negative test result. Due to limited testing availability and narrow criteria for testing, if an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 and/or has developed symptoms of COVID-19, including early or mild symptoms (such as cough and shortness of breath), they should be in isolation (staying away from others) until they have had no fever for at least seventy-two (72) hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers), other symptoms have improved (such as cough or shortness of breath) and at least seven (7) days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

A link to the full stay-at-home order is posted online at http://www.epcan.com.

According to the order’s definition, “stay at home” means to stay in your place of residence, which includes hotels, motels and shared rental facilities, and to not leave unless necessary to provide, support, perform or operate necessary activities, minimum basic operations, critical government functions and critical businesses.

Examples of necessary activities are: obtaining medical care, acquiring supplies to work from home, taking dogs for a walk, grocery shopping, exercising outdoors and other activities that do not violate social distancing requirements (minimum of 6 feet between people).

Minimum basic operations include: necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits and facilitation of employees being able to continue to work remotely from home – all while maintaining social distancing requirements.

Critical businesses include (not an inclusive list; see order for more):

• Grocery stores

• Gas stations

• Pharmacies

• Police stations

• Fire stations 

• Hospitals, clinics and healthcare operations 

• Garbage/sanitation 

• Public transportation 

• Public benefits (i.e. SNAP, Medicaid) hotlines

• Grocery and meal delivery, drive-through and takeout options.

• Liquor and cannabis stores.

• Health care. 

• News media.

• Transportation

The order is valid through April 11, pending further changes.

This order will be enforced by any appropriate legal means. Local authorities are encouraged to determine the best course of action to encourage maximum compliance. Failure to comply with this order could result in penalties including a fine of up to one thousand (1,000) dollars and imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, pursuant to 25-1-114, C.R.S.

City of Fountain

Fountain continues to adjust operations as the situation progresses. The Municipal Court is closed until further notice. If you are scheduled for a court appearance on April 7, you will be contacted by phone to review your plea offers, and to make arrangements to receive payments on or after April 13.

Fountain City Hall is now closed to the public. However, residents can call (719) 322-2000 for assistance.  

All park playgrounds in Fountain are now off-limits. Children should not be using playground equipment in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Enforcement of the order

Local law enforcement officials are navigating their way through this new mandate along with everyone else. Although the stay-at-home order allows for fines up to $1,000, officials say penalties would be a last resort.

“It’s going to be more education based than enforcement based,” said Jacqueline Kirby, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer. “There are a lot of exceptions out there; it really is unenforceable.”

Kirby acknowledged that while the order primarily addresses health safety issues, situations could arise when those evolve into public safety issues, requiring more strict intervention. However, EPCSO will prioritize traditional crimes while keeping violators of the public health order on their radar.

Kirby pleaded with people not to call 911 if they see violations of the health order.

“That’s not what 911 is for,” she said. “That will take away resources for the priority calls. It’s a public health order, not a law enforcement order.”

Residents who wish to report a concern may call the county call center at (719) 575-8888.

Fountain Police Chief Chris Heberer said his department will also enforce the order with a certain degree of flexibility.

“We are actively encouraging people to follow the law set in place by Governor Polis,” Heberer said. “Officers will be using discretion during any situation that may arise where there is a violation of this law.”

United Way, State resources

On March 26, in partnership with Mile High United Way, the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center activated 2-1-1 Colorado to connect Coloradans with human service resources statewide. Coloradans can reach 2-1-1 Colorado online at 211Colorado.org, by dialing 2-1-1 or texting your Zip Code to 898-211. Do not call 911 for COVID-19 questions unless it is a medical emergency.

2-1-1 Colorado is a confidential and multilingual service connecting people across the state of Colorado to vital resources in their local community. 2-1-1 serves as one central location where people can access over 7,500 health and human service resources. 

Callers may experience long wait times, as demand for information is high. 2-1-1 Colorado is hiring in order to reduce wait times and meet Coloradans’ needs. Coloradans can also reach 2-1-1 Colorado online at 211Colorado.org.

2-1-1 provides navigation services to resources such as:  

• Housing, including shelters and transitional services

• Rent and utility assistance

• Apply for SNAP benefits by phone

• Childcare

• Food/meals

• Transportation

• Clothing/personal/household needs

• Mental health & substance use

• Employment

• Education

• Medical & dental clinics

Other government/economic services

2-1-1 will work in conjunction with The Colorado Health Emergency Line for the Public (CO HELP), a toll-free hotline for the latest public health information. If Coloradans are looking for general information about COVID-19, such as the number of cases in Colorado, the list of symptoms, or how you can protect yourself, they can call CO HELP by dialing 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911. 

“2-1-1 Colorado provides an invaluable service to thousands of individuals and families across Colorado. 2-1-1 is committed to meeting the growing needs of our community members impacted by the outbreak, and we are expanding our capacity to reach more people in need of support. We encourage all of our neighbors in need of immediate resources to connect with 2-1-1 Colorado to get help. We are grateful to the state of Colorado for their support and all the volunteers and donors who are supporting us to be able to answer the call,” said Christine Benero, President and CEO, Mile High United Way.

2-1-1 Resource Navigators are available to help by phone, Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and have access to a language translation service to accommodate over 170 languages. Coloradans can also reach 2-1-1 toll-free by dialing 866-760-6489. 

2-1-1 and CO HELP cannot offer medical advice or assistance. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.

FEMA assistance available

FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the state of Colorado to supplement the state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on Jan. 20, 2020 and continuing.

Federal funding is available to the state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent.

Lee dePalo has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.

Meal sites for kids

Fountain-Fort Carson School District has expanded the number of sites where they are providing meals during the emergency closure. School meals are exempt from the stay-at-home order and will continue through the remainder of the emergency closure.

• Aragon Elementary, 211 S. Main St., Fountain

• Mesa Elementary, 400 Camino Del Rey, Fountain

• Carson Middle School, 6200 Prussman Blvd., Fort Carson

• Mountainside Elementary, 5506 Harr Ave., Fort Carson

• Widefield School District 3 will continue to serve meals at three locations:

• Watson Junior High, 136 Fontaine Blvd.

• Sproul Junior High, 235 Sumac Drive

• Janitell Junior High, 7635 Fountain Mesa Road

Emissions testing suspended

The Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced March 25 that it is suspending the state’s vehicle emission testing in response to the ongoing COVID-19 response and Governor Polis’ declaration of a statewide stay-at-home order. The order applies to emissions testing for both gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles.

“Our state government is unified in finding all possible ways to limit and slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect Coloradans in this difficult time,” said Garry Kaufman, director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. “Suspending emissions testing for the time being gives Coloradans one less reason to leave their home.”

State officials will soon provide information on extended vehicle registration renewal deadlines through the duration of the closure. 

The state will continue to provide certain services and registration information online at https://www.colorado.gov/dmv. Detailed information about the COVID-19 outbreak in Colorado can be found at the state’s specialized website: https://covid19.colorado.gov/.  

 

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