covid-19

Jefferson County residents look back on COVID-19 year, forward to vaccinated future

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/17/21

Social distancing. Face masks. Contact tracing. When Jeffo residents were first introduced to these terms one year ago, most of them surely never thought they would still be a part of everyday life a …

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covid-19

Jefferson County residents look back on COVID-19 year, forward to vaccinated future

Posted

Social distancing. Face masks. Contact tracing.

When Jeffo residents were first introduced to these terms one year ago, most of them surely never thought they would still be a part of everyday life a year later.

But while COVID-19 has lasted longer — and proven far more painful and disruptive — than most people possibly imagined, its one-year anniversary has come at an important point as the increasing availability of vaccines means many residents are now experiencing a feeling they haven’t had much of lately: hope.

As Jeffco enters its second, and hopefully final, year of this pandemic that has been unlike anything anyone alive has ever experienced, a few residents shared some thoughts what they will remember from the last year and hope for in the next one.

Kristine Briganti

Kristine Briganti’s fitness studio, InFit in Golden, has a normal capacity of just 35 people and a large number of older attendees.

So when COVID-19 hit Colorado last March, she worried that her studio wouldn’t be able to stay in business. But with a lease to pay and not a lot of other options, Briganti decided she would try holding the studio’s classes online.

There were challenges at first — the studio barely qualified for any PPP grants because of the way it is structured and Briganti said she has never worked so hard in her life — but she’s been able to stay afloat with that model (which has since been modified to include limited in-person classes when rules allow).

“I’m currently hanging on by a thread, but I’ve been able to keep paying rent and maintain my lease,” she said.

As the pandemic reaches its first birthday, Briganti said she’s proud of the adjustments she’s been able to make and the many clients who have stuck with her — and who often tell her how thankful they are for the chance to stay active.

Still, it’s been tough, Briganti said, which is why she’s been heartened to see so many of her older customers get vaccinated and come to the studio in-person over the next couple weeks and is looking forward to seeing more join them soon.

“I’m hopeful that resistors will resist the urge to resist the vaccine because I think the sooner we can all get on board the sooner things will go back to what you might call normal,” she said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we will be able to get back to where we a year-and-a-half ago.”

Judy Stevens

Judy Stevens is feeling good.

After spending a year of staying home except for trips to grocery store and reaching out to several providers , the 86-year-old Ken Karyl resident received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine from Jefferson County Public Health in Arvada at the end of February.

“The way it affected me I felt like someone who weighed 300 pounds was sitting on me for a bit,” she said. “But that went away after about an hour, so I am fortunate.”

Now she’s looking forward to getting her second shot in a few days and eventually resuming some of the activities she’s had to go without for the last year.

“The hardest part has been not being able to go out and get together with friends like we used to on occasion,” she said. “But I haven’t had a fearful time with that disorder so I just say thank you, God.”

The Arvada Resiliency Task Force

As it became clear last March that the pandemic would result in the temporary shuttering of business, business owners and entire communities worried about how it would effect their livelihood and economies.

In Arvada, officials from the city, its chamber of commerce and several other organizations came together to form the Arvada Resiliency Task Force, an organization that worked together to create programs and resources to help the city’s businesses.

While the city and its businesses have hardly been exempt from the pandemic’s many challenges, the task force feels the city’s economy has weathered COVID-19 better than they would have ever thought possible given the length and severity of the pandemic.

So what’s the basis for that proclamation? The task force says the number of businesses in Arvada actually grew over the past year as the city issued 361 new business licenses while 223 businesses closed, leaving the city with a total of 3,349 businesses.

Among the new businesses that have either already opened or will soon are a location of the Apricot Lane boutique, a new version of the Kline’s Beer Hall that opened in Olde Town at the start of the pandemic and an Olde Town photo and video production studio called Kaddie Studios.

“We originally created the taskforce because our local businesses are the heart of our community and we knew we needed to act immediately in order to make a difference,” Arvada Economic Development Director Daniel Ryley said in a statement. “What we didn’t anticipate is that the impact of our fast actions would help turn our town into an area that people from all over Colorado are now flocking to.” 

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