Community partners, schools, and local governments join SJBPH in calling for precautions amid omicron surge 

Photo Credit: SJBPH

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) continues to report high levels of COVID-19 transmission driven by community spread of the Omicron variant. To preserve health care capacity and resources, support in-person learning, and maintain essential government services, the public is strongly urged to commit to precautions that are proven to limit spread and COVID-19 hospitalizations. Precautions include seeking vaccination and a booster dose as soon as eligible, masking in businesses, workplaces, and public indoor spaces, isolating when ill, and quarantining when exposed. 

Both La Plata and Archuleta counties continue to report extremely high levels of COVID-19 transmission that are impacting the operation of businesses, schools, and health care in the region. Yesterday, the seven-day case incidence rate in La Plata County was reported at 1,594 cases per 100,000 residents, and in Archuleta County the rate was 1,496 cases per 100,000 residents. Of the molecular tests collected and reported to SJBPH over the past seven days, 26% came back positive for COVID-19 in La Plata County and 33% were reported as positive in Archuleta County. 

In the face of this unprecedented COVID-19 surge, community partners are united in calling for public health precautions across both Archuleta and La Plata counties: 

“The severe rise in COVID cases in Archuleta County is certainly putting a strain on our business community. Many are adjusting days and hours of operation or need to close due to the impact of short staffing. The consistently stated health protocols are encouraged throughout our business community to try and help slow the spread of COVID and the general cold and flu outbreaks. Now, more than ever, we need to support our critical agencies and look out for each other by maintaining healthy habits and recommended guidelines. Also, be patient and kind!” said Mary Jo Coulehan, Executive Director, Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce. 

  “La Plata County is and will continue to follow all SJBPH protocols in light of the alarming statistics in our region. Much of our staff is working remotely and those who are unable to do so are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing in all county offices and facilities. We continue to strongly encourage all staff members to be fully vaccinated and hope all county residents do the same,” said Commissioner Matt Salka, Chair, La Plata County Board of County Commissioners. 

“City staff in all departments are working very hard to maintain operations during this current surge in COVID-19. We urge our community to persevere through this difficult time by following public health precautions to ensure services, facilities and businesses we rely on remain open and available,” said José Madrigal, Durango City Manager. 

“Our District appreciates community members taking precautions and staying home when sick right now to slow the spread of COVID-19. We’re all in this together, and by taking action to protect yourself and your family you are also helping support in-person learning and keeping our students and staff safe and healthy,” said Dr. K. Kevin Aten, Superintendent of Schools, Bayfield School District. 

“Pagosa Springs Medical Center is grateful to every person who takes the recommended actions to avoid getting or spreading COVID. For those who have COVID, PSMC is proud to be one of four locations in the State of Colorado partnering with a Colorado Homeland Security healthcare team to deliver monoclonal antibody treatment,” said Rhonda P. Webb, M.D. Pagosa Springs Medical Center CEO. Persons needing and qualifying for monoclonal antibody treatments should look for the link to PSMC at this website: 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone. We are all feeling the effects of the Omicron variant. As a healthcare provider and a local business, Animas Surgical Hospital encourages members of our community to take additional COVID-19 precautions to support our friends and neighbors throughout the Omicron surge,” said Joe Theine, CEO, Animas Surgical Hospital. 

“In-person learning is central to student well-being. We’re able to uphold a meaningful and engaging in-person learning environment because of our faculty, staff, and students’ continued commitment to science-informed mitigation protocols, like booster shots and mask use indoors,” said Tom Stritikus, President, Fort Lewis College. 

“The Durango Business Improvement District (BID) reminds everyone to be safe and careful out there. If you feel the slightest bit sick, stay home and do not take a chance of infecting a friend or co-worker. We also recommend that people in our area look to upgrade their masks, and to have your mask with you wherever you go. Please always wear one when visiting Downtown and North Main District businesses to keep yourself, other customers and employees safe,” said Tim Walsworth, Executive Director, Durango Business Improvement District. 

“Mercy continues to care for a large number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. While we are still fully capable of providing all of our services to the community, this prolonged pandemic continues to place a great strain on our staff. We are supportive of all preventive measures that help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and reduce hospitalizations,” said Dr. Christopher Hudson, Chief Medical Officer, Mercy Hospital. 

  “We at Durango School District 9-R continue to be committed to providing in person learning as this is both critical to the well-being of our children and our community at large. Through our layered mitigation strategies and incredible dedication of our staff, families and students, we have been able to maintain in-person learning through this extremely high transmission period. We also recognize community partners including local medical providers and SJBPH for their continued support. We urge all community members to continue to do their best to limit community spread during this time by testing, masking while indoors in public places and staying home when ill,” said Dr. Karen Cheser, Superintendent, Durango School District 9-R. 

“Case rates are so high due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant that it is having far reaching impacts on the essential services we all depend on in our community. We join our partners in local government, business, health care, and education in urging the public to take additional precautions during this Omicron surge. Together, we can help ensure hospital care is available to anyone who needs it and support health care staff who are working so hard at our area hospitals,” said Liane Jollon, SJBPH Executive Director. “Countless people are working tirelessly to provide essential services in our community—teachers, first responders, snowplow drivers, public servants, and many more who we need to protect during this surge. Masking, vaccinations, and boosters are the best precautions we should all take right now,” continued Jollon. 

Receiving a booster is shown to drastically increase protection from severe illness, and clinics with ample supply of all three vaccine types are widely available in both La Plata and Archuleta counties. All SJBPH and Jogan Health clinics can offer first, second, and booster doses for those who are eligible. The full schedule of vaccine clinics and providers is available online with convenient dates and times across both counties. 

Community testing sites remain open and are free to the general public. More information about hours and how to make an appointment is available on the SJBPH website. 

SJBPH’s local Public Health Advisory remains in effect. For COVID-19 data, vaccine clinics, and information about quarantine and isolation guidance please visit the SJBPH website. 

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. For over 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of the Southwest Colorado community. 

To top