El Paso Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mark Waller signed a local disaster emergency declaration for the county March 14.

The declaration is limited to leveraging resources to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The safety and well-being of our citizens is our top priority,” Waller said in a statement.

“This declaration enables us to access additional medical resources and utilize emergency procurement policies. Until further notice, people should go about their normal lives with a few modifications to help limit the spread of the disease.”

The declaration allows El Paso County to activate the Medical Reserve Corps, to help ease the burden for medical personnel. Nationwide, the MRC network comprises nearly 1,000 community-based units and almost 200,000 volunteers, organized locally.

The emergency declaration will also help local medical providers obtain personal protective equipment.

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El Paso County Public Health began monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in December and activated an incident command on February 14.

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11. That same day, Governor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency. Yesterday, an El Paso County resident — a woman in her 80s with known medical history —died from COVID-19.

“Our community is strong and we can face this challenge together,” Waller said.

“Now more than ever, it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19: stay home if you’re sick, thoroughly wash your hands, avoid close contact with people with flu-like symptoms, clean and disinfect surfaces frequently, sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and avoid touching your face.”