With the statewide stay-at-home order that had been in place for the past month set to expire on April 26, Jefferson County Public Health joined agencies in Denver, Adams, Arapahoe and Broomfield counties in keeping their counties under stay-at-home order through May 8.
Christine Billings, the COVID-19 Incident Commander for JCPH, said JCPH made that decision in order to get more time to develop guidance for how various kinds of businesses can most safely reopen and operate in the current COVID-19 climate.
“The county is doing a good job of flattening the curve but we needed a little more time to get good guidance out to these facilities,” Billings said.
JCPH is one of many county and state agencies working to put together such guidance for businesses ranging from restaurants to dog groomers to summer campus. Those resources are being posted online at www.jeffco.us/4018/Info-for-Public-Health-Partners-Business.
According to Billings, the availability of such guidance for restaurants offering curbside pick-up of food and the fact that county restaurants had been serving customers curbside successfully was the main reason why the county decided to begin permitting retail stores to begin offering curbside service under the amended stay-at-home order.
But while Jefferson County Public Health felt the county did not have the guidance in place for the county to reopen on April 26, Billings said she does think Jefferson County will be in a position to begin to adopt the state's safer-at-home guidelines, which allow a larger subset of businesses to reopen, once the extension of the stay-at-home order expires on May 8.
“As we approach May 8, I see definitely more alignment with the state order but a lot of this resides too on the public listening to and following even what the state is saying with the masking and the social distancing,” Billings said. “A lot of that resides on individual choices and we need people to make that choice or we will see more cases.”
However, Billings also said JCPH will continue to be “as coordinated as possible” with other metro Denver health departments and counties, which is important because of the interconnectedness of those counties and their populations.
“I think you will see nuances (among metro area counties) but I think we all recognize that we can't operate in bubbles,” Billings said.
Also working with JCPH to help prepare businesses for reopening are the West Metro Chamber of Commerce and the chambers of commerce in various Jeffco cities.
Pam Bales, the CEO of the West Metro Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber feels doing so is one of the most important things it can do right now in order to ensure businesses are able to reopen successfully and the economy ultimately recovers from the closures as quickly as possible. But part of that communication role has also meant sometimes helping businesses understand why orders are in place.
“So, what we're trying to do is take the public health data translate it into everyday language that people understand and say this is why public health feels like we need to do this in our county,” Bales said. “Because as business chambers, we don't want to see a rebound and go back to having everything close. We want to be safe about how we do this and I think the vast majority of our businesses want to do the right thing and protect our employees, protect their customers and protect their businesses.”
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