Officials monitor as virus spreads, list of postponed/canceled events

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No cases in Ouray County yet, but events are being cancelled as a precaution. This story will be updated on a regular basis as we receive more information

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At this time cancelled or postponed local events include:

- Neighbor to Neighbor will hold its weekly luncheon at the Ouray Community Center on Monday, March 16, but has canceled future luncheons until further notice.

- Ridgway town council candidate forum scheduled for Monday night, March 16, at Town Hall is canceled.

- Ouray Women's Club March 17 meeting is canceled.

- The City of Ouray's Community Plan update meeting focused on land use, scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, has been postponed.

- The Ouray Tourism Office has canceled its Business After Hours event on Tuesday, March 17, at Chipeta Solar Springs Resort.

- Census meeting scheduled for March 18 at the Ouray County 4-H Center is canceled.

- Sarah Potenza concert at the Sherbino Theater previously scheduled for Thursday, March 19, is canceled.

- An Evening with Colorado Avalanche Information Center's Jeff Davis at the Sherbino, scheduled for March 20, has been postponed. 

- Sherb Nerds trivia at the Sherbino Theater on March 25 is canceled.

- Sherbino and Full Tilt Saloon present comedian Steve Gillespie, scheduled for March 25, has been postponed.

- The Princess Bride Youth Theatre performances at Weehawken, scheduled for March 21-22, are postponed. A reschedule date will be announced.

- St. John's Episcopal Church in Ouray will not have in-person gatherings, per a request from Bishop Kym Lucas issued Thursday night asking churches in the diocese to suspend in-person, public gatherings from March 22 until April 1. 

- The Ouray School District's Parents and Teachers Together group's annual fundraiser, the Parents' Night Out event scheduled for March 20, has been postponed. 

- Weehawken Creative Arts' Illuminate Dance Showcase, originally scheduled for April 10, will be postponed until May 21. Weehawken dance classes are postponed through April 12.

- United Church of the San Juans in Ridgway has suspended all church activities, including worship, through the end of March.

- The Ouray County Performing Arts Guild has canceled the Brother Crowe performance scheduled for March 21 at the Wright Opera House.

- Alex Paul and Gabrielle Louise in concert, scheduled for March 26 at the Sherbino, has been postponed.

- Creede Repetory Theater's Improv Comedy Theater and Workshop, scheduled for March 27-28 at the Sherbino, have been postponed.

- Ridgway-Ouray Community Council's Spaghetti Dinner, scheduled for March 28, has been canceled.

 

***if you have an event that has been canceled you would like added to this list, please email it to plaindealer@ouraynews.com. We are continually updating this list.

 

Story updated at 7:10 p.m. Saturday

After other ski resorts across the state announced they would close due to coronavirus concerns, Telluride Ski Resort announced it would close for the season. The announcement came Saturday night after Gov. Polis told Colorado Ski Country USA late Saturday afternoon he would be issuing an executive order requiring the state's ski resorts to close for a period of time, according to Telluride Ski Resort's statement. The gondola will continue running to Mountain Village for pedestrian traffic for the time being.

Story updated at 6:10 p.m. Saturday

The Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and Lodgings announced today they're closing all their facilities through May 1 and will reopen on May 2.

The owners said they plan to carry out previously planned improvements in exterior rooms and spa areas.

"We apologize for any inconvenience related to this decision, but are confident in your understanding," a message posted on the Wiesbaden's website says.

Story updated at 12:05 p.m. Saturday

Ouray School District has decided to close on Monday, in line with Ridgway School District's announcement it would close. Lead Administrator Kenneth Nelson said in a statement on social media that he's working with staff to formulate a plan in case the school needs to close longer. Nelson said the school will decide whether to close longer by the end of day Monday. The Montrose School District announced Friday it would close until April 12.

Story updated at 4:25 p.m. Friday

The Ridgway School District announced this afternoon it will close on Monday to conduct an all-staff planning day and deep cleaning of its facilities.

"It is clear that the COVID-19 situation is evolving quite rapidly and that we will likely need to extend our school closure up to our scheduled spring break and perhaps beyond," Superintendent Susan Lacy wrote in a letter to parents this afternoon. Ridgway's spring break begins March 30.

Lacy noted in her letter that the Telluride School District closed today for the next four weeks, while the Montrose County School District has no plans to close at this time, as directed by Montrose County health officials. She said Ouray County Public Health officials have not recommended that Ridgway School District close.

As of early this afternoon, the Ouray School District was still open, and officials there have not given any indication they plan to close.

Story updated at 3:35 p.m. Friday

The San Miguel Power Association is closing its offices in Ridgway and Nucla to the public until March 30.

"SMPA has been monitoring recent events associated with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Proactively instituting a policy of 'Social Distancing,' such as these office closures, is considered a best practice and has been proven effective to ensure business continuity, while improving the safety of the public and our staff. We thank you for your understanding and apologize for any inconvenience," San Miguel Power CEO Brad Zaporski wrote in a message posted on SMPA's Facebook page this afternoon.

SMPA reminded customers in the post they can pay their bills or access their account through SMPA's automated phone system and through the rural electric cooperative's online portal and app.

Story updated at 1:35 p.m. Friday:

Citizens State Bank is sending a letter to customers today letting them know about a bevy of precautions bank officials are taking, including increasing cleaning and sanitization efforts in bank lobbies and public areas.

"We are continually working with public health officials in our communities to monitor cases in our areas. In accordance with their recommendations, we may take additional precautions to the above such as restricting lobby hours, but ensuring that our drive-up capabilities, night-drop, and ATMs will continue to allow customers uninterrupted access to their banking needs," a portion of the letter from bank President and CEO Brenda Fox reads.

Kate Jones, assistant branch manager in Ouray, said officials are considering restricting lobby hours at the bank's branch in Naturita. A previous version of this story said the hours had, in fact, been restricted.

Naturita is in Montrose County. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montrose County as of this afternoon, according to county spokeswoman Katie Yergensen.

Story updated at 7:30 a.m. Friday:

CHSAA has announced it is canceling all remaining state basketball tournament games. The Ouray Boys Basketball team was scheduled to play De Beque at 1:15 p.m. on Friday and that game has been canceled. 

Story updated at 2:24 p.m. Thursday:

All CHSAA-sponsored spring sporting events, including practices, are suspended until early April. This includes all high school sports and debate, as well as CHSAA-sponsored music festivals. "The situation will be monitored and evaluated with key decision-makers from around the state to determine when, or if, to resume the spring season," according to a statement released by CHSAA.

Ridgway's High School Knowledge Bowl State Championships scheduled for March 16-17 in Fort Collins are also canceled, according to an email to parents and staff from the school.

Story updated at 1:00 pm Thursday:

Some local events are being canceled in response to the governor's issuance of a state of emergency and a recommendation from health officials to avoid large crowds and social events to prevent community spread of the COVID-19 virus.

 

Original article:

Ouray County health officials continue to work with school districts, local governments and other leaders to monitor for COVID-19, a strain of coronavirus that 17 people had tested positive for in Colorado as of Wednesday afternoon.

In less than a week, the state went from having zero confirmed cases to reporting instances in Jefferson, Eagle, Pitkin, Gunnison, Arapahoe, Summit, Douglas, Larimer, Denver and El Paso counties. Many of the cases involved people who had recently traveled within the U.S. or internationally.

Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, after the latest case was reported in Gunnison County, citing a need to control “community spread” of the virus. He said during a press conference one of the things he hopes to do is expand drive-through testing across the state, including places in the mountains where cases have been identified.

At this time, there are no testing locations in Ouray County and Health Department Director Tanner Kingery is advising anyone with symptoms who thinks they may have the virus to contact their primary care doctor.

The criteria for testing is very specific. The full criteria for testing was expanded on Tuesday night to include anyone who has symptoms and is at risk of severe illness, including older adults who are least 65, and is available on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website at www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe.

The closest testing sites are at Telluride Medical Center and Uncompahgre Medical Center in Norwood, but those tests will not be given to anyone who doesn’t meet the criteria for this strain of the virus. Kingery advised anyone with questions to call their medical doctor for a consultation and avoid showing up at hospitals, as they risk exposing others if they have the virus.

“We don’t want people walking into waiting rooms and having contact with other people,” Kingery said. “Don’t just show up.”

Health officials have focused on limiting exposure, encouraging everyone to wash hands frequently and effectively for at least 20 seconds with soap, and to avoid sneezing or coughing on others.

One of the best things people can do is stay home if they don’t feel well and keep their children home if they don’t feel well, health officials said.

Kingery met with representatives from the county’s emergency management office, school districts, Ouray, Ridgway and others at a multi-agency coordination group meeting on Thursday and said the group will continue to meet every other week to touch base, monitor the situation and plan for a coordinated response.

As of Wednesday there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ouray County, but there has been plenty of discussion about what will happen when it arrives and how to limit exposure. Some other communities in Colorado have canceled social events where large groups of people were anticipated to congregate, in the hopes of slowing the spread of the virus.

Ouray School officials on Tuesday canceled an upcoming student trip to France. School officials in Normandy — which has a student exchange program with Ouray — notified the school here they were canceling events there and that Ouray students couldn’t come, according to Ouray School administrative assistant Kimberly Sills.

Some districts have canceled school-sponsored trips outside the state, as Mesa County Valley School District 51 in Grand Junction decided to do this week.

A trip to Africa is scheduled for some Ridgway Secondary School students later this year, but at this time Superintendent Susan Lacy said the district is monitoring the situation.