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Montezuma County Declares Local Health Emergency in Response to Coronavirus

Austin Cope
KSJD File Photo

Montezuma County declared a local health disaster emergency Wednesday morning, in part to access funds for fighting the local economic blow caused by the new coronavirus.

Commissioner Larry Don Suckla said the county researched its options and determined this is one way of helping businesses and job security. 

“We’re trying to explore and take all avenues,” Suckla said hours after the declaration. “This isn’t over yet. It’s just getting started.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the county. The county’s declaration comes about a week after Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency for Colorado.

Right now, Suckla said, the main impact on business is the effects of the precautions enforced by the state. On Monday, Polis ordered all restaurants and other large gathering places to close for at least 30 days to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Take-out and delivery options are still available and Suckla encourages people to continue patronizing restaurants offering it.

The exact number of test kits available in the county hasn’t been made clear to the public. Nationwide, the test kit shortage means testing has to be done more selectively and focus on high-risk groups with apparent symptoms. Suckla said he doesn’t believe sufficient testing has been done to rule out the presence of COVID-19 in the county.

He added that more tests should be on the way, as county administrator Shak Powers shared with KSJD Tuesday.

Echoing messages heard by other local officials and by the state government, Suckla said the community has to work together through the evolving situation.

“It’s very concerning for all of us. We’re all neighbors,” Suckla said. “We’re all in this together.”

Hear KSJD’s full interview with the commissioner below.