City of Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico

On Wednesday, Dec. 30, Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico issued a press release informing the public on what he, along with other community leaders with Las Animas County and the Las Animas and Huerfano Counties Health Department were doing to help the local economy.

With some businesses already closed for good and others on the verge, community leaders are pushing to implement the state’s Five-Star Program, which would allow businesses in an area labeled as “red” on the state’s dial system, to operate in accordance with “orange” level restrictions, allowing more individuals in their business while ensuring a more strict line of defense against spread.

Two items come to the front of importance to make this happen: First, the county would have to see 14 consecutive days of declining positive COVID-19 case numbers and second, a team would need to be assembled to ensure inspections and enforcement could be carried out.

While the first is up to the citizens to follow protocols, the second is currently in the process of being completed by community leaders intent on doing what they can to save local businesses.

The following is the full press release from Mayor Rico:

On Tuesday, December 22, 2020, a Zoom Meeting was held with the Las Animas County Health Department, Las Animas County Commissioners, City of Trinidad Council Members, City of Trinidad business community members and Huerfano County officials. 

The context of the meeting was to get a clearer understanding of the 5 Star Certified Business Variance Program (COVID-19) the Governor and CDPHE is currently promoting. This program will allow businesses to continue to operate if approved.

After the meeting ended, it was obvious that it would be difficult and costly to meet the criteria under the current parameters of the Program. Consequently, this left everyone feeling frustrated.

We, as community leaders, are very concerned that if we do not make an attempt to find a workable solution, and without relief, the progress we have made in reviving our economy will be put in jeopardy.

The tremendous strain that our businesses are experiencing is hard to fathom; businesses are not sure they can survive the winter. If they go out of business, will they be able or even willing to start up again? Attracting new business from other areas would be equally difficult since other communities are in the same situation.

Tuesday afternoon I reached out to the Governor’s office and spoke with his policy advisor and a senior COVID-19 advisor. Likewise on Wednesday, County Commissioner Chairman Luis Lopez contacted the Governor’s office and spoke with a senior advisor and Governor Polis.

Chairman Lopez and I have been in contact with each other to discuss the information we received from the Governor and his advisors. Chairman Lopez and I have also been in contact with Las Animas County Health Executive Director Kim Gonzales letting her know we have been in contact with the Governor’s office for information on how to move forward.

The main hurdle is that currently we are ‘red’ on the dial and in order to move down to orange or lower on the dial we have to show a 14-day decline in Covid-19 positive rates. This would allow businesses to operate at a greater capacity.

I can assure you that the leadership of Trinidad, Las Animas County and the Health Department are working diligently on the behalf of the Citizens of Trinidad and Las Animas County to keep this pandemic from spreading. The next few weeks after the holidays will be the most challenging.

We have already had a few days and weeks that our COVID-19 numbers have been too high for our area, threatening our ability to move lower on the dial and straining our medical facilities.

A main component of the 5 Star Program is that an administrative team be put together.

That team is already being assembled. They will put together a plan which will then be sent to the State for approval. The team will meet as soon as possible to prepare the plan to submit to the CDPHE and the Governor’s office, as time is of the essence.

We call on all citizens and businesses of Trinidad and Las Animas County to adhere to CDC guidelines, wash our hands frequently, wear appropriate masks, keep six-foot social distancing and not visit outside of our households. We can change the current infection rate we are experiencing in Trinidad and Las Animas County if we all follow these guidelines.

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