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Ripple effect of coronavirus felt locally


March 11, 2020 | View PDF

Local businesses and residents are feeling the impacts of COVID-19. The Niwot Inn took a big hit when a group of international business travelers canceled their gathering for later this month. The group of CEOs come from Europe, India and across the U.S., booking the entire Inn a couple of times a year for three to four days, according to co-owner Carissa Brandes.

“Thousands of dollars, it’s very tough,” said Brandes. “We’ve noticed this March has been one of the slowest months we’ve had since we’ve owned the inn in the last three years. We feel like it definitely could be part of businesses not sending people to travel. There’s not a lot we can do.”

Brandes is hoping the Niwot Inn will make up the difference later in the year when they are less dependent on business travelers and more focused on tourism and family events. “Right now summer looks very busy. I hope we find a cure and people get safe,” she said. Until then, the Inn is doing what it can by having the housekeeping staff sanitize even more than usual, wiping down surfaces such as doors multiple times a day.

Several other businesses are emphasizing sanitizing practices for their employees. Staff at the Niwot Tavern already do that, said server Jessica Hinton, but awareness is even higher. “Servers and kitchen staff are being super extra diligent in keeping hands cleaned and sanitizing,” she said.

The same goes for Niwot Market. They are using Clorox wipes at check stands and keeping a supply next to the shopping carts. The store is having trouble stocking sanitizing products for customers to buy, as are other area grocery stores. “They are unavailable,” said owner Bert Steele who put in an order, but isn’t sure when it will be filled. “We’re trying to get all we can in here. The vendors are selling out.”

Steele has also ordered a non-chemical spray as an added layer of sanitation for the vegetables. That isn’t widely available either. But, he said, there is still good old fashioned hand-washing. “There are plenty of other viruses around. It wasn’t bad for this awareness to go up. That’s not the only bug on the move.”

Even without sanitizer on the shelves, Niwot Market is seeing more customers in the store. Steele thinks some people are avoiding the big grocery stores where more hands are circulating.

Julia Franklin ran into the sanitizer shortage when she went to buy some for her Niwot exercise studio, Begin Fitness. So she made her own from isopropyl alcohol, vitamin E and aloe vera gel. She also implemented strict sanitation protocols above and beyond what she was already doing. Exercisers have to wash hands or use sanitizer when they enter the studio. All the equipment is put into a bucket and sanitized after class. Franklin is steam-mopping the floor twice a day, using wipes on floor mats and doors and washing towels with Lysol. She says most clients are on board and are helping with the extra cleaning.

“We don’t want coronavirus, but we also don’t want the flu,” she said. “So these are good precautions anyway.” Thinking about the studio has made her more aware of the potential for germs in her everyday life. “It’s amazing how many things multiple people touch,” said Franklin.

Boulder County Health is offering guidance to people with respiratory symptoms and to local medical providers. If someone gets sick with respiratory symptoms, the health department is asking the person to stay home and away from others in the household. If medical attention is needed, the person should call the provider before going to the office, so that they can be prepared to receive the patient.

When a person with respiratory symptoms visits a doctor’s office, the provider is being asked to mask and isolate the person in a private room with the door closed. Healthcare workers are being told to protect themselves from droplets and airborne particles, including wearing masks and eye protection.

Guidelines for testing are becoming more lenient as test kits become more available. If the medical provider is concerned, they will gather a sample from the patient and send it to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for testing.

Boulder County Health wants to remind everyone that the vast majority of people who become sick from COVID-19 experienced mild illness. Residents older than 60 and anyone with underlying health conditions are at greater risk.

Health isn’t the only concern with the disease. The stock market is highly volatile and down sharply. Financial planner Maryann Ruck owns Integrated Wealth Strategies in Gunbarrel. She discusses risk tolerance and “what if” scenarios with her clients when they decide to work with her so they are informed and prepared for downturns of any type in the stock market.

“I’ve had a surprisingly low number of calls from clients,” Ruck said. “A couple of instances where people have called for what I would describe as reassurance. They want to know, ‘Am I OK?’” Ruck said it’s important to keep in mind long term goals and a person’s entire financial picture, not just their stock investments.

She admits that this event is unprecedented and it’s hard to put into context. “The market doesn’t like uncertainty and that’s what we have.,” she said. “We don’t have good visibility on how the containment is going to play out yet.” She recommends working with a professional and recognizing that “there will be significant near-term disruptions.”

Disruption from COVID-19 may apply to many aspects of daily life for a while.

Visit these websites for more information:

Boulder County Public Health

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

Centers for Disease Control


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