COVID-19: Testing our Mettle
Updated: Apr 2
March 20, 2020 Note: I am updating this blog with new information.
Note: Since this blog was written, there have been an increasing number of cases reported in our county each week and we are currently (4/1/20) under a state-mandated Stay at Home order. This is a fast-changing situation. I wish each of you safety and wellness.
Like many of you, I am at home working as this global pandemic has reached our communities in La Plata County not in terms of a known case (note blog date) but officials tell us the virus is very likely here. The last time Colorado saw a public health crisis like this was during the flu epidemic of 1918-19 when 7,500 Coloradans lost their lives. There are many stories. I lost three great grandparents in that pandemic. They lived in a mining town near Colorado Springs. So, this situation, for many reasons, weighs heavily and tests our collective mettle.
I believe COVID-19 will end up being the most impactful crisis the county has ever faced in my lifetime. We have survived many hard times before such as the Black Ridge, Missionary Ridge, Valley and "416" Wildfires, and ensuing flooding, and then the Gold King Mine Spill. In my observations, elected officials, county staff and others benefit those they serve by:
· Making adjustments and adapting: Often, there is not a step-by-step guide for how a government should deal with a crisis especially one like COVID-19. I do know our officials are working around the clock to respond, keep us safe and stop the spread. In some cases, there is a policy manual or law in place to guide decisions. In other instances, learning while doing, and being flexible and changing course are each necessary steps.
· Advocating for citizens: We need more testing here. I was pleased to read this morning (March 20th) that it looks like a testing facility will be opened up at the La Plata County Fairgrounds (refer to local media for information). Rural and rural/resort communities in Colorado had previously been left out of public testing leaving us unprotected and unaware.
· Effectively working at all levels of government: County Government does not respond to crises by working in a silo. Many partners are involved. One reason our officials are on the phone all day is because inter- and intra-governmental cooperation and action is absolutely vital to a coordinated, effective response.
· Making tough calls: No one wants the people they serve to have to social distance or close their business or cancel events. However, in order to save lives and avoid completely overloading our health care systems, these things must be done for COVID-19. The County's mission is to: ...protect the health, safety and welfare of the people.
· Communicating: It is imperative that our governments employ every tool possible to communicate with residents. Since 1000s of people are at home and many have a lot of fear and anxiety, they want information whether by phone, radio, teleconferences, social media feeds or print media ~ and especially now, from on-line sources. As a side note, this situation points out another reason extending internet services and broadband throughout La Plata County is so important.
Now, to the "Marsha for Commissioner" campaign. I never would have predicted I would be running for a public office in a time I cannot be out in public. I am making adjustments and have canceled all events, and it's a small price to pay for safety. See the graphics in this post which show why social distancing isn't just a good idea, it saves lives.
In a few weeks, be looking for a "Zoom" Town Hall, a survey you can fill out on affordable housing solutions, and more. You can always call or email me with ideas, blog feedback, etc.
I will be participating remotely in the Democrat County Assembly on 3/28/20 which is how I get on the ballot. The General Election is 11/3/20.
Finally, I'm finding ways to help others. My ideas and please share yours are: donate to the Durango Food Bank or another food bank near you; order take out more often; call an elderly neighbor and leave a card on her/his door; donate blood; and/or give money to help those in need including employees laid off from the numerous businesses impacted. See resources below.
Be well and safe. We'll get through this and we'll figure it out together.
Marsha for Commissioner
You can help me work for a good quality of life for all by joining my campaign.
Engage, Donate and Volunteer here: www.marshaporternorton.com
(note: volunteering will commence when it is safe.)
Contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marsha for Commissioner@MPNfortheWIN
Community Emergency Relief Fund
Southwest Colorado Disaster Assistance
San Juan Basin Health:
State of Colorado’s COVID site:
Ways to help, statewide:
Help for people impacted in La Plata County:
Community Emergency Relief Fund, a project of the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado