Coping with COVID-19 around Elbert County

Community entities take steps to help people get through pandemic

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 3/27/20

When Liz Alvarez, who lives in Meadow Station, first heard about the novel coronavirus coming to Colorado, she immediately went to Broomfield, where her mother, Nydia, was living in a retirement …

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Coping with COVID-19 around Elbert County

Community entities take steps to help people get through pandemic

Posted

When Liz Alvarez, who lives in Meadow Station, first heard about the novel coronavirus coming to Colorado, she immediately went to Broomfield, where her mother, Nydia, was living in a retirement community, and brought her home to live with Alvarez and her family. Her son, a student at Colorado State University, came home as well, and they all hunkered down to stay safe.

“My mom feels so wonderful here,” said Alvarez. “She's happy to be here and feels relaxed and safe. Basically this has become the safe haven.”

Alvarez, who also has a daughter who attends high school in Douglas County, and whose husband Miguel works from home, said she doesn't mind having a full house, and is making the most of spending time with her family.

“I'm a real estate agent, and for me the social aspect of my work is really what I enjoy,” said Alvarez. “Socially isolating can be depressing if you're not careful. I've tried to manage being home by keeping a positive mindset, and making sure I have things to do each day.”

Alvarez deliberately schedules a conference call first thing each morning with her assistant to get her going every day. She takes care of personal chores like journaling and prayers after the call, then dives into work. She avoids reading the news until later in the day, and only skims the headlines unless she runs across something new.

With two adults and two teenagers working and learning from home, Alvarez said it can be a little difficult to stay focused.

“One of the things I've noticed is that I'm not able to go at it as business as usual in terms of time I spend on the computer,” she said. “I'm not as effective. I feel like my span of attention has diminished.”

Daughter Beka has started distance learning at home, but Alvarez said being isolated has been hard on her.

“It's her senior year, and there's a chance she won't have a prom, or walk at graduation. That has made her very sad. She was state champion in DECA, and was looking forward to the international competition in Tennessee. That's been canceled,” said Alvarez.

To help her family cope with the isolation, Alvarez bought a big set of Legos that they work on together.

“Right now everybody's coping. We're going to prepare for the long run, and if it's over sooner we'll all rejoice,” said Alvarez. “And tomorrow I'm going to put some music on the radio and hot dogs on the grill.”

Social media has played a big role in helping community members stay united, and several Facebook pages have been created to provide resources and support for individuals and businesses.

The Elizabeth Community Support Facebook page was created to “facilitate the needs of the Town of Elizabeth and Elbert County residents by linking those who wish to volunteer their time, services and compassion to our neighbors in need in uncertain times.” Members can post as a volunteer and offer assistance, or post a need and request for assistance.

Elbert County Food and Drink is another community Facebook page, launched by Holly Haan to give residents a consolidated resource for local restaurants, bars and breweries. Businesses update daily specials and delivery hours.

Elizabeth Area Chamber of Commerce

“We're doing a couple of things to help support businesses in the area, whether they're a member of the Chamber or not,” said Executive Director Michelle Rink. “Obviously we're all taking extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of our staff and members, but we want to show our community that you can still support our local businesses.”

The chamber has worked with Elizabeth Mayor Megan Vasquez to create a community database with local business hours, including times specifically reserved for senior citizens. The list is also updated with businesses that are open for takeout or delivery. Any business who wants to be added to the list should contact the chamber at 303-646-4287.

Food banks

The Elizabeth Food Bank, located at 381 S. Banner St., is offering drive-thru-only service for anyone who lacks the resources to feed their family. Visitors should go to the back door of the facility and volunteers will be there to help you. The food bank is open Fridays from 12:30 to 3 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Anyone wishing to donate food may do so during those hours, or call 303-646-4825 to arrange a time for a delivery. Financial contributions are helpful as well.

The Food Bank of Kiowa Creek Community Church in Kiowa also welcomes anyone who is experiencing food insecurity. They are located at 231 Cheyenne St. and their hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Mayor's statement

Mayor Vasquez issued this statement March 26:

“As many of you know, last night Governor Polis issued a stay at home order for Colorado that took effect today and extends through April 11th. This order is intended to save lives and will help minimize contact between citizens in order to minimize the exposure of the virus to the public. We encourage everyone to take this order seriously for the safety and benefit of our entire community.

“I know this crisis is impacting so many lives and businesses here in Elizabeth. The Town will continue to provide and maintain operations within the scope of this order. We will continue to push out information to the community and work closely with our area agencies. Please make sure to check the Town's website for updates.

“I know that this is a scary and uncertain time for all of us. I hope we all can continue to come together, as we always have, and help those who are in need and most vulnerable in times like this. I encourage all of you to take this time and make new memories with your loved ones. Spend time outside and enjoy the beauty and peace of Elizabeth. We will get through this with grace and we will come out stronger. Please be safe and stay well!”

County statement

The Elbert County Board of County Commissioners issued this statement:

“Elbert County recognizes that the unexpected release of the Governor's `Stay at Home' order caught most citizens, local governments, and businesses by surprise. Though further clarification from the state may modify the orders, at this time we see the following impacts:

“Citizens: Little has changed from what we had already asked of you. Social distancing, making only necessary trips from home, and working from home if possible is now directed. All gatherings, not just those of 10 or more, are prohibited. The orders linked below provide additional information. We recommend you reach out to your employer for guidance on any work-related matters.

“Businesses: The Governor's order and the CDPHE order provide details on categories of businesses considered `critical' and therefore exempt from the order. We recommend you review them to determine how if at all, your business type is categorized. We expect that most businesses will continue operating as they have been in recent days as the lists are very similar to what we have seen in the previous direction from the state. If your employees can work for home, we ask that you accommodate them.

“County Services: After reviewing the order, your County elected officials do not anticipate changes in County government operations - most, if not all, of Elbert County's services are considered essential, so Elbert County's citizens can rely on their County government to continue to operate.

“We ask that all citizens continue to work together. We have not seen any increased cases of COVID-19 in over a week in this county. We have been doing our part to protect ourselves and our neighbors and have been successful. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in other parts of the state. We will continue to evaluate this order and request clarification and commonsense accommodation of our county's particular circumstances. Please keep an eye on social media for more information in the coming days.”

Fund to help businesses

The Elizabeth Firefighters Community Foundation is offering help for local business owners during the state-mandated stay-at-home period. The foundation has created a business fund to help pay utility bills for businesses.

Business owners who need assistance should contact Rusty Booth at r.booth@elizabethfire.org, or Kara Gerczynski at kara@elizabethfire.org.

The foundation has served Elbert County for 20 years, providing resources for families who have experienced financial hardship for various reasons. They rely solely on donations. If you would like to make a donation, checks can be mailed to EFCF at P.O. Box 441, Elizabeth, CO 80107.

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