SJBPH marks one year of COVID-19 emergency response

Photo Credit: SJBPH

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) marks one year of COVID-19 emergency operations on March 2nd by highlighting the response, resilience, and collaboration that have protected the health and safety of our communities. 

Like the rest of the world, residents of Archuleta and La Plata counties have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the impacts of the virus, communities in Southwest Colorado remain strong economically, educationally, and epidemiologically. 

The southwest region has the lowest cumulative infection rate in the state, according to the Colorado School of Public Health, despite sharing a workforce and healthcare providers with northwest New Mexico and the Navajo Nation, which tragically had some of the highest infection rates in the United States. SJBPH kept infection rates low by making testing widely available, performing 100% contact tracing and 100% outbreak investigations, and providing consistent recommendations to businesses and events. 

Both counties and the municipalities of Durango and Pagosa Springs have had stronger economic performance and tax receipts than most Colorado counties. Durango had the highest lodging occupancy in the state in summer 2020, and Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County lodging tax saw its highest ever year-over-year increase in 2020. 

“While COVID-19 has shaken us to our core and broken the hearts of families and individuals across our nation, in this time of profound loss we have learned to lean on strong collaborations with local partners in every sector of our community,” said SJBPH Executive Director, Liane Jollon. “Together we have demonstrated true resilience in the face of monumental challenges. SJBPH is extremely grateful for everyone’s deep sacrifices and hard work throughout this crisis. Our hearts ache for the lives we’ve lost and the loved ones still ailing, and we know we must keep working together for better days ahead,” Jollon added. 

“La Plata County has worked closely with SJBPH over the past year in the emergency response to COVID-19,” said La Plata County Manager, Chuck Stevens. “In particular, the county has supported the emergency response, committing and securing additional state and local resources to bolster our community efforts. We have appreciated the subject matter expertise delivered by SJBPH and their ability to pull together numerous community partners to ensure the health and safety of all community members,” added Stevens. 

For the last year SJBPH quickly pivoted to meet changing needs while maintaining vital public health services for the community. SJBPH’s pandemic response includes performing testing, disease investigation and control, mitigation, vaccine distribution and administration, crisis communications, and enacting policy to protect the communities it serves. 

Over 52,224 diagnostic tests were performed in La Plata County, and over 10,036 diagnostic tests were performed in Archuleta County during a one-year period. Through its strong community partnerships, SJBPH is the only Local Public Health Agency (LPHA) in Colorado to stand up a community testing site without support from the state or National Guard. SJBPH continues to coordinate numerous testing options for the community, including community testing sites, serial asymptomatic testing for essential workers and first responders, and targeted testing for underserved populations. 

SJBPH has performed over 4,000 individual case investigations and over 71 outbreak investigations. SJBPH has maintained 100% contact tracing throughout the pandemic and continues to investigate outbreaks, including ones not defined as ‘priority’ or reportable to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). These actions have been vital to maintaining low transmission in La Plata and Archuleta counties. According to the Colorado School of Public Health, 10.9 percent of Southwest Colorado has been infected to date, the lowest percentage in the state. 

Visit SJBPH’s website: for up-to-date information about COVID-19. 

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