County cautiously working to reopen in line with state
Grand County officials are planning a conservative reopening in line with the timeline that Gov. Jared Polis announced on Tuesday.
The state’s stay at home order officially ends on April 26, then Colorado plans to transition to a safer at home plan with reduced closures.
Retail businesses will first open for curbside pick-up before in-person shopping and office buildings will be 50% open, all with strict social distancing precautions. Gatherings will still be limited to fewer than 10 people.
The county currently only has five positive cases of COVID-19 out of over 100 tests, but Grand County COVID-19 Incident Response Commander Brad White told the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday that a positive test in Denver has close ties to the community.
“We did have over the weekend a gentleman who works in the county, but lives in Denver and tested in Denver, tested positive,” White said.
So far, the county estimates the shut down has affected the budget this year by potentially $5.8 million.
With the low number of cases, Commissioner Kris Manguso asked if the county could reopen quickly or ask the state for a variance from the stay at home measure.
Eagle County is expected to be the first in Colorado to reopen on Thursday or Friday after requesting a variance from the stay at home order last week.
White agreed the low number of cases is positive and allows some reopening, but cautioned that the county will want to go slowly to prevent a surge of new cases. For example, businesses can reopen on the state’s timeline, but the county will likely extend its nightly rental ban which is set to expire April 30.
“Our county has not had a lot of sickness or illness so we’re still pretty susceptible to the COVID-19 here in the community, so I think public health’s response, that the incident response team supports, is just a slow and easy approach,” White said.
He added that a new task force will be working with municipal leadership, local chambers and business owners to adapt reopening guidelines for the county, with potential variances for each community.
“It’s our intent to look at each business type and how can we get them from a moderate risk to a low risk or a high risk to a moderate risk and get them open at the appropriate time, so that’s a lot of what the task force will be working on in the next few days,” White said.
He also emphasized the importance of testing to reopening successfully. He said the county can “sustain a couple hundred tests per week at this point” and is working to be able to mass test.
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Grand County’s real estate transactions Jan. 17-23 were worth more than $8.4 million combined.