GUNNISON COUNTY, Colo. — A public health order for Gunnison County was amended to prohibit all visitors, including non-resident homeowners from remaining in the county for the duration of the order.
The Public Health Director found that non-residents, visitors and non-resident homeowners from lower altitudes are at a greater risk for complications from COVID-19 infection than residents, who are acclimatized to the high altitude environment of Gunnison County, according to the order.
The county's top public health official also said in the order that that non-residents, regardless of whether they own a residence in Gunnison County, are imposing unnecessary burdens on health care, public services, first responders, food supplies and other essential services.
The order went on to state that visitors were "creating issues" with regard to enforcement of the stay-at-home order and that the presence of non-residents and visitors, including nonresident homeowners, would no longer be permitted in order to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visitors cannot stay unless granted an exemption or waiver by the Public Health Director. Those who violate this or any other portion of the public health order could face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 18 months in jail.
Gunnison is one of 20 Colorado counties that has a hospital but no ICU beds.
The other 20 counties are: Archuleta, Baca, Cheyenne, Conejos, Grand, Gunnison, Huerfano, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lake, Las Animas, Lincoln, Moffat, Phillips, Prowers, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Sedgwick, Teller, and Yuma.
Earlier, the county said it planned to test sewage in order to get a better idea about the presence of COVID-19 in the area.
When the Spanish flu swept through the U.S. from September 1918 to the beginning of 1919, one mountain community did everything it could to keep outsiders away.
And it worked. Nearly 8,000 people died of the virus in Colorado alone, but there were only two cases in Gunnison County: a woman who had traveled to Chicago and her sister, who picked her up from the train station. The sister was the mountain county’s lone flu death during an outbreak that killed an estimated 50 million people around the world.
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