COVID-19 is here.
The first case in all of northeast Colorado was confirmed in a Yuma County resident, announced the Northeast Colorado Health Department, late Wednesday morning.
The release from the NCHD stated: “At this time the person is not hospitalized but in appropriate isolation and is recovering at home.
“As with any communicable disease, this case investigation will take us some time. We will be contacting anyone who has had direct contact with the individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. In order to protect the privacy of the individual, identifying information and medical records will not be released to the public.
“We understand that there may be some fear and confusion around COVID-19. However, we want to remind our communities that NCHD, Wray Hospital, Yuma Hospital, Yuma County Emergency Manager and other partnering agencies have been preparing for such an incident as this and that have identified resources ready to respond as the situation develops. We will continue to monitor each case, continue to assess suspected cases, identify people who may have been exposed, and determine the need for isolation, quarantine, or other restrictions of movement.”
Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, the impact of “social distancing” restrictions definitely was being felt here as much as anywhere.
Community buildings, schools, businesses — particularly restaurants, bars and the local movie theater — annual community events, all are being directly hit thanks to precautionary measures in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Hospital, nursing home, assisted living
Yuma District Hospital & Clinics announced stricter visitor guidelines this week, as well as guidelines for going to the hospital or clinic for treatment. One can find all those inside this edition. As of Monday, all visitors to YDH & C were greeted at the front door and had to answer one to three questions before being allowed admittance. It is part of the effort to protect all patients and visitors.
Also, the hospital districts spring blood draws, which were to begin next week, have been postponed for the time being.
Yuma Life Care Center, as well as The Harmony Home, an assisted living facility, saw their visitor restrictions further restricted by an order of the state that came out last Saturday, restricting all visitors.
The facilities are required to offer alternative communication methods for people who would otherwise visit the residents by using virtual communication tools and providing staff to assist the residents with those tools.
Yuma Life Care Center announced “Operation: Communication” earlier this week.
“Yuma Life Care Center understands that the restrictions it has implemented are difficult for those residents that are very accustomed to seeing family, friends and other visitors regularly. Because of this, the Center would like to invite community members young and old to send letters, cards, photos, or any uplifting well-wishes they would like, to the residents at YLCC.
“Please keep infection control precautions in mind while handling any of these items, specifically if you are currently experiencing any respiratory symptoms. Please refrain from licking envelopes, and ensure items are handled with clean, sanitized hands. Items may be sent to Yuma Life Care Center, c/o Operation: Communication, 323 W 9th Ave, Yuma, CO 80759.
The City of Yuma announced last Friday that the Yuma Public Library was closing at the end of the day, and would remain closed until April 6. All fines are being waved during this time. The Yuma Community and Enrichment Center also is closed, and all scheduled activities canceled, until April 6. The City of Yuma Recreation Department postponed all programs until the same date.
The city added that the closures will continue to be re-evaluated.
Yuma’s city council was to vote on an order “declaring a local emergency” in the city of Yuma, during its regular meeting, Tuesday night. Look for more on that elsewhere in this edition.
The city then announced Wednesday afternoon that all remaining municipal buildings would be closed to the public,
Yuma School District-1’s spring break began last Friday, March 13, which was perfect timing in light of the rapidly changing social distancing standards being set by authorities.
However, the school district announced this past Tuesday morning that it would extend spring break by another week, with the intention of resuming classes on March 30.
Yuma-1’s statement read in part: “We will be constantly assessing the spread of the virus and will communicate if additional time off from school is warranted.”
There will be no practices, school activities or community use of facilities.
The school district said it will have an alternative meal service next week, and will provide pick up locations and time when the plans are finalized.
Teachers and staff will be meeting next week to develop a plan to provide e-learning for students at home, along with plans for providing breakfast and lunch should school not resume as planned on March 30.
Yuma Children’s Academy is remaining open for enrolled childcare youth. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment sent out an update last Sunday recommending child care providers to remain open unless they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member or child.
The YCA stated “The staff and leadership of YCA knows how important child care is to our families in the community, and will follow this recommendation to the best of our ability.
“YCA is providing daily or more frequent updates on Facebook since the situation and YCA hours could quickly change.”
Liberty School District J-4 announced this week that it will go to “remote learning” beginning Tuesday, March 24 and continuing through April 6. A decision will be made April 2 on whether or not to extend the remote learning beyond April 6.
Lone Star had a board of education meeting planned for Wednesday night, at which point the board will make a decision about an extended closure. The school is on spring break this week.
Otis schools are on spring break this week. There was no announcement as of earlier this week if school would resume as scheduled next week or not.
The Yuma Ministerial Association’s Lenten Luncheon series was canceled for this week and next week, March 19 and March 26.
The three Catholic dioceses in Colorado announced late last week that all Catholic churches in Colordo will not celebrate public Masses until further notice. That includes St. John the Evangelist Church in Yuma. Funerals and weddings can be celebrated with a reduced number of people.
It appears nearly all other churches in Yuma still planned to have services this week, but that could change if COVID-19 cases begin showing up here. Churches are asking people to please stay home if not feeling well, or are concerned about being exposed to the novel coronavirus.
Many churches were having meetings around mid-week to discuss the situation, so decisions to cance could occur depending on the circumstances. Most have websites and Facebook pages so please theck those for updates, and the Pioneer will try to share any updates it is made aware of.
Funerals are being impacted. One coming up this week has been changed to a private family service, and another held earlier this week reportedly saw about one-quarter attendance to what it would have been under normal circumstances.
Businesses and events
All sorts of events planned in the Yuma area in coming weeks have been canceled.
We could list them all, but basically all community events that were to take place this week or next have been canceled or postponed until a later date.
One of the most notable ones is the Yuma County Cattlemen’s Association’s Auction and Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry that was set for Saturday. Even CHS/M & M Co-op cannot hold its fundraiser for its annual food bank donation.
A handful of businesses in Yuma have made the decision to close down for the next week or so.
The Yuma Theater, which was going to show “Call of the Wild” this weekend had no choice but to close down. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a public health order late Monday to close bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and casinos to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, effective at 8 a.m. on March 17 for the duration of 30 days. The public health order will help the state slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado communities, the statement read.
Restaurants still can do take-out and delivery orders, and many in Yuma are doing just that, including Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Paper Moon Pizza, and Farm House Market. And, of course, the convenience stores are still open. Dairy Queen reported it is not allowing anyone inside, but one still can call in an order and the staff will meet you at the door.
In an effort to help local restaurants with carry-out/delivery orders, local web page designer Adam Wills is offering a free online ordering website to any business owners affected by these restrictions. The site will allow people to view their menu and place an order online from the site or via their Facebook page. All they will need to do is pay a small amount to cover hosting ($39/mo or $390/yr). Anyone wanting more info can head over to the site Wills set up for this offer at dineoutfood.com.
One business that is not closing, but probably has been hit the hardest by the “hoarding” of items has been Shop-All. It has had to limit the number of items customers could purchase, including milk, eggs, hamburger, bread, bottled water, Kleenex, paper towels, granulated sugar and flour. For some reason, toilet paper was one of the first items to get ransacked, and a limit on toilet paper purchases was implemented last weekend. Rice, beans, and Mac and Cheese, also were some of the shelves nearly emptied out last weekend.
Shop-All also announced Monday that beginning this Friday, March 20, it would temporarily shorten the hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. It was stated it will allow staff more time for restocking shelves, and spending more time doing extra cleaning in an effort to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
Store manager Butch Berry said it has been crazy at the store, and asked for everyone to have patience with the staff.