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Message from Greg Nelson, Mayor, City of Ouray

March 29, 2020

Fellow Ourayans,

Wow! What a year 2020 has been - and it's nearing the end of March! I don't know about you, but I started this year with the kind of enthusiasm that only a new year in the snowy San Juans can bring. After the holidays, my thoughts turned back to the challenges facing our community and how Council and our community would be working to address those challenges. Nowhere on my list did I even consider a global pandemic. I guess this is an extreme example of the old saying - Life is what happens while you're busy making plans. Now, less than three months into the year, all of our priorities and plans have changed.

Ouray was founded almost 144 years ago by some of the hardiest and most resilient people you could ever imagine. They had to be just to survive the elevation, climate, isolation and grueling work. That strength persists to this day, passed down through the years to natives and transplants alike. It's part of our heritage and culture. It's in our blood. It's Ouray.

Since Ouray's founding, our community has been through so very much - floods, fires, depressions and recessions, mining accidents, pandemics, world wars and more. In each case, our community has responded in true Ouray fashion - pulling together as a community to make the best of a bad situation. It's what Ouray has always done. It's what we do today. It's what Ouray will continue to do.

While our community has been through so much over the years, that doesn't mean that our current challenge, the COVID-19 virus, isn't of concern to all of us from a health and economic security standpoint. This virus is something we all need to take seriously and, for that reason, our federal, state, county and city governments have issued a variety of orders that most of us have never seen or thought about in our lifetime - all of which were issued with the express purpose of protecting our health and trying to prevent people with the virus from overwhelming our healthcare system.

In response, City Council and staff have been working diligently to implement our emergency response plan and taking on unexpected challenges as they arise. Some of the items we have been working on include:

- Working with essential service providers, such as grocery stores and other provisioners, restaurants, etc. to ensure we have adequate supplies to serve our community. And where we have issues, working to address those issues.
- Engaging our Community and Economic Development Committee (CEDC) to work with our local businesses to help them implement their own business emergency/disaster/resiliency plans and see what other needs we can help with.
- Coordinating with other local, regional and state entities to share information, services, best practices, etc. This includes active participation in our County Unified Command and Multi-Agency Coordination Group.
- Working with staff of our federal legislators, as well as the Colorado Municipal League, to do everything possible to make sure federal relief programs are applicable and available to our community.
- Cutting all City spending that isn't absolutely required for public health and safety or the continued operations of government.
- Set up a system that allows Council and our community to conduct virtual meetings so we can continue to conduct City business in compliance with applicable laws, allowing our community to be engaged and move forward.
- Working to issue timely, accurate and informative communications to our community. These communications are posted, as applicable and appropriate, on the City website, e-newsletter, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.
- Updating our tourism website to place our tourism marketing on hold and to advertise our local restaurants, grocery stores and businesses that are operating during this challenge.

To get through this challenge, though, we need your continued support. Things you can do include:

- Comply with the Governor's Stay Home Order, as well as all other orders and recommendations issued by federal, state, county and city government. These can be found on the City website and Facebook page and the Ouray County Public Health Agency website and Facebook page. Remember, the sooner we beat this virus, the sooner we can all get back to our lives.
- Practice the health and safety recommendations issued by the Ouray County Public Health Agency, the state CDPHE and the federal CDC.
- Support our local businesses. Many restaurants, grocery providers and stores are open for take-out business. Other stores and businesses are open on-line. These businesses are critical to sustaining our economy and returning to normal once the health part of this challenge has passed.
- Look out for, and help, your friends and neighbors. And, if you need help, please don't hesitate to ask for it.
- Don't start or spread rumors. When in doubt about something, please contact the city or one of your council members.

We will get through this challenge if we all continue to work together and follow the orders that are issued. Supporting our citizens, our businesses and our government in these times will help us come out of this as strong as possible.

Thank you for your continued support. Stay healthy and stay strong.

Mayor Greg Nelson
City of Ouray

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