Time to Safely Revitalize and Eye Recovery
Updated: May 19
My first blog on COVID-19 was written when the pandemic hit. https://www.marshaporternorton.com/post/covid-19-testing-our-mettle
Economic Health and Safety is the Vision
I believe that the goal of opening businesses up and public health do not have to be mutually exclusive. We can do both and we have to.
Small businesses, employees and workers across our county's economy have been hit hard. Those in the know report there is a 40% reduction in business income and over 25% of the businesses in the county have applied to the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (source: phone call on 5/15 with economic developers, and the County staff and BOCC). I believe most businesses want to open up but do so in a manner that protects employees and consumers.
A group called the La Plata County Economic Recovery Task Force formed early on and has met weekly. This broad collaboration is necessary since no one entity has all the answers, capacity or authority. I support their work and it will be needed for a very long time.
The group developed a trusted Web site:
Topics: Public Health, County Resources and Business Services
During the last 2.5+months, the folks at San Juan Basin Health, the local health department, have shown themselves to be true heroes. Their trained staff work 14-18 hour days. They don't have any back up as professionals trained in pandemics are few and far between. SJBH develops local orders -- sometimes controversial -- based on what the State of Colorado mandates and then adapts La Plata County rules to regional realities. No matter one's opinion of the public health orders we are operating under, I hope we can all agree that our local health department staff and board are serving us well.
Health care workers across on the front lines of COVID-19 are appreciated more than they probably know. This banner commemorates one type of health care professional, EMS workers, but everyone working in health care is admired.
Generosity is Everywhere
In these past weeks, the list of good deeds done by many is endless. Just a few examples...
· Over $300,000 so far has been raised through the Community Foundation's Community Emergency Relief Fund. A total of $101,000 was just disbursed to area nonprofits. https://www.swcommunityfoundation.org/npo-covid-resources/
· The La Plata Senior Center delivers over 1,000 meals per week to isolated or home-bound seniors.
· The Maker Lab, part of the Powerhouse Science Center, has produced over 8,000 PPE items for regional health care workers (i.e., gowns, masks, and face shields), using 400+ volunteers and raising $400,000 for expenses https://powsci.org/covid-rapid-response/
· Pine River Shares, Manna, the Durango Food Bank and a food bank serving communities east of Ignacio call "TARA" are using creative strategies and brave volunteers to get food to people including many recently laid-off workers. They tell me need for food has gone up over 200%.
· Kids in Ignacio working with Pine River Shares organized a food drive delivering food to elders and over 150 house holds: https://durangoherald.com/articles/320390
· Here is a link to resources that can help: https://www.swcoda.org/la-plata-county-resources
So where next? Here is a list of key issues I'm thinking about and you can let me know what is on your mind by taking this survey:
1) Managing the County budget will be Job #1 for the next set of Commissioners. Cuts will need to be made but at this writing, the full extent of all budget issues is unclear. The County will experience cuts in some things funded by the State of Colorado. There are rough rapids ahead, and a lot of work will be necessary to hear from residents about priorities and do detailed budget policy work.
2) Working together will be very important to help businesses safely open up. Where County Government can play a helpful role, it should. Many ideas are on the table such as helping business procure hand sanitizer and masks.
3) In order to return to normal, there has to be more accessibility to testing, a vaccine and more resources for contact tracing. These solutions are of course, statewide and national challenges ones County Government will have to track on very closely with SJBH.
4) Communication is key. As is already happening, keeping lines of communication open among all sectors is vitally important. As one example, there was a call last Friday that the County hosted with business leaders. IMHO it was very productive!
5) Advocating for residents, small businesses and public health is needed now more than ever. The pandemic has taught us many things but this for sure: there isn't one one entity who can solve all the complex and challenges related to COVID-19.
What are your ideas for how we recover and revitalize? I hope each of you and your families are well.
Marsha for Commissioner
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