The City of Montrose plans to declare an emergency regarding COVID-19 on Monday afternoon following meetings with the county, health organizations and other departments to ensure proper city function.
City council and city staff called an emergency work session on Saturday to discuss the city’s protocols regarding COVID-19. The discussion was led by city manager Bill Bell and police chief Blaine Hall.
While there are no confirmed cases in Montrose as of March 14, city council and staff felt that being proactive and getting ahead can help limit the effects of a local outbreak.
“As this thing grows, I do believe that we will have cases in Montrose County,” Hall said. “We’re doing everything we can to limit spread.”
The city chose to wait until Monday afternoon to declare the emergency in order to get protocols and preparations ready with other city organizations, including remote communication, city processes and public gatherings.
“We want to make sure we have all our ducks in a row,” Bell said. “It’s important that the city does a declaration.”
The emergency process involves the city manager declaring the emergency, and within seven days city council must hold a public meeting to determine whether to extend or stop the emergency declaration.
In the next 48 hours, city council and staff will come up with a plan for how to make adjustments to continue providing services and city function while maintaining health and safety precautions.
“I think it’s great that our city has already started down that road,” said Mayor Dave Bowman. “I think everybody realizes the seriousness of this issue and are working really hard to come up with the best solution to keep all of our citizens safe.”
First thing Monday morning, all public restrooms will be closed due to sanitary concerns as well as issues with toilet paper being stolen. The city will partner with various nonprofits in order to put plans in place for ensuring meals/care for children amid the school district’s closing. In addition, Monday’s city council work session is cancelled and there are plans in place for the potential of needing to hold Tuesday’s city council meeting partially remotely.
Montrose’s pandemic response plan is constructed in a tier system. In Tier 1, there is no national or local threat, and the “City of Montrose has taken deliberate steps to prepare and plan for the possibility of global pandemics.”
In Tier 2, “reports of the pandemic have been publicized,” but the pandemic has not yet reached the United States.
Tier 3 takes place when there are reports of the disease in the United States and in the state of Colorado. At that point, “The Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, state and local health officials have issued warnings and are taking preventative measures to arrest the momentum of the virus spreading. The Emergency Operations Center is activated and staffed with appropriate personnel.”
In Tier 4, the pandemic has reached Montrose County, at which point “all agencies and community partners are actively engaged in mitigating and preventing the spread of the virus.”
Currently, the community is at a Tier 3 response. Once there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Montrose County, the response will move to Tier 4.
“At this point, we don’t know how far we’re going to have to go,” Bowman said.
Citizens are encouraged to stay informed by following the city’s website (cityofmontrose.org) and social media pages, where regular updates will be provided.