Dear Elected Officials, Residents, and Visitors of the San Luis Valley,
As medical professional leaders of the SLV, we are strongly encouraging the following three things to help prevent further community spread of COVID-19 across the valley. Let’s keep our businesses open and not go back to a “shut down” situation. We are calling for quick action and 100 percent compliance from all residents and visitors. The number of positive cases, hospitalized patients, and deaths have increased over the past two weeks in the valley, and it is not because we are testing more people. Due to the wide community spread of the disease, the most vulnerable among us are suffering from compromised health conditions where several have had extended hospital stays.
As we approach our holiday weekend and warmer weather, please join us in showing respect for others by taking the following actions, based on science, research and best practices:
1. Wear a mask while in public places. Science shows this virus is spread via respiratory droplets released when we talk, cough and sneeze. Wearing a face-covering while in public will reduce the spread of the illness. A person with no symptoms may be spreading the disease by singing, sneezing, talking, coughing or sweating. Please make sure your mask covers your mouth and nose and watch your hand-face contact. You can infect yourself by adjusting the mask too much and repeatedly touching your face.
2. Avoid crowded spaces and continue to physically distance. Try to visit your friends and family outdoors and continue to keep 6 feet apart.
3. Wash your hands, even if they are not dirty. Wash with soap and water to rid your hands of germs. “I immediately wash my hands when I walk into my house. If I just left a store or public place, I use hand sanitizer that is in my car before touching my steering wheel,” commented Dr. Kris Steinberg.
We understand that you and your family are exhausted from distancing, you miss your loved ones, and you want to get back to your support groups, church and events. Please keep your mask up do not let your guard down! The data can be confusing, and we will continue to work with our local public health officials to communicate when there is a decline in local cases and less pressure on our patient care situation. Until then, as elected officials and leaders, please continue to model, encourage and request 100 percent compliance for everyone’s safety and to help keep our businesses open.
Carmelo Hernandez, M.D., SLV Health Chief Medical Officer
Emelin Martinez, FNP-BC, Valley-Wide Health Systems Chief Medical Officer
Heidi Helgeson, M.D., Rio Grande Hospital Chief Medical Officer