Return to business but not business as usual

SAN LUIS VALLEY — All over the State, businesses are anxious to re-open and begin serving customers again so they can make a living. However, to keep the pandemic from re-surging, and possibly having to re-close, this has to be done in an orderly and safe manner. According to the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order, this Friday, May 1st, retail businesses and personal services can reopen if they follow “best practices.” These are practices put in place to protect employees and customers from contracting COVID-19, and although they may differ depending upon your specific industry (see guidelines here:, in general, they involve monitoring people for signs of illness, enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing, and thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the workplace. Reach out to your Local Public Health Agency if you have questions about guidance and resources.

As more people venture out, it is critical that we continue to wear masks and practice social distancing (staying at least 6 ft away) when we are around other people. This is especially important for those who are serving or distributing food, as customer interaction is at a higher level. Employers need to be sure to provide masks to employees and mandate the wearing of these. Some businesses are taking the creative approach and manufacturing masks with their logo for employees. Cloth masks of all types are now becoming more readily available on the internet as demand for them peaks, and there are several talented people in our community who are making them. Show your support and pride for our unique communities and remember MASK ON SLV (#MaskonSLV)!

May is Mental Health Awareness month. In this high-stress time, please reach out to others if you need support. Emotional and behavioral health is just as important as physical health and is found to be increasingly interrelated. SLV Behavioral Health Group is currently providing services by phone and online in telehealth sessions. Take care of yourself by reaching out, call 719-589-3671, or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255). After business hours, please call 911 or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.

The San Luis Valley is known as a favorite destination for travelers, second homeowners, and tourists. Residents are reporting more traffic from other areas as the temperatures warm up.

Many of our communities are dependent economically on these travelers, and normally welcome them to support our livelihoods. It is a difficult line to follow right now whether to welcome or discourage the influx. More people means more risk for our residents and a greater load on our health care capacity (more possible COVID cases and greater community spread). In addition, if these travelers do not follow current orders to wear masks, socially distance, or in some places, quarantine for 14 days, it can be frustrating to witness for residents who are trying their best to stay well. We would ask that those travelers considering visiting the San Luis Valley in the next few months please do your best to respect the Public Health orders in place (found here: and encourage your favorite communities to thrive by protecting their residents and infrastructure!

Meanwhile, we want to encourage residents to get out and enjoy the outdoors safely. “Safer at Home” includes your outside home. Be knowledgeable about closures before you go, be considerate of others, and be smart about the risks. Most importantly, stay close to home. Colorado Public Health Order 20-28 specifies that “travel for recreational purposes should be limited to your own community like your county of residence or traveling no

more than about 10 miles.” Many people are now rediscovering the fun and unique recreation opportunities within their own counties. Birding, wading, canoeing, walking, and hiking are just some of the activities available to residents within ten miles of home. Stay safe, stay healthy, and be considerate of others in your recreating.