Last week, San Miguel County bifurcated the county in differentiating COVID-19 restrictions in the east and west ends. The East End (Telluride and Mountain Village) moved into “Level Orange Extreme,” while the West End (Norwood) remained in the current Level Orange, given the low caseload. 

Norwood Mayor Kieffer Parrino told The Norwood Post on Saturday that he is pleased with the county bifurcation. He’s been pushing for the move since summer.

“This is one of the reasons we started the West End Economic Recovery Committee, because of this,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time, and that was my soapbox back then.”

Parrino said he wasn’t sure bifurcation would happen, and that Norwood could ease up on restrictions and operate differently than the rest of the county, but he’s pleased with the recent decision.

“We are a different density and business model and demographic,” he said. “I don’t think one size fits all.”

Parrino ran for San Miguel County Commissioner District 3 seat in the fall, and his biggest issue focused on just that. He said for him the bifurcation is “awesome.”

“I feel like it’s been part of my stance and platform ever since running for commissioner,” he agreed.

Parrino added he thought Kris Holstrom, the incumbent who won the District 3 seat, is doing a great job representing Norwood in the county meetings and decisions at this time. He added he was pleased that District 1 commissioner Hilary Cooper called him to discuss the idea of bifurcation, after county officials discussed the idea following Boulder County’s decision to do so.  

Parrino said the bifurcation is working in Boulder and makes sense for San Miguel County at this time, since the majority of COVID-19 cases are in the Telluride and Mountain Village area, with Norwood having little to none currently.

In a news release last week, San Miguel County Public Health officials said they recognized a disparity in the disease burden between the different parts of the county.  

“As a result of increased cases in the east end of the county, San Miguel County Public Health, advised by the Board of Health, has determined that differing regulations to address the varied levels of disease burden is in the best interest of both regions,” the release stated. “The line of bifurcation has been drawn at the R-1 school district boundary, with the west end remaining in Level Orange. The east end will move to a new level, Orange Extreme.”

Level Orange Extreme in the East End reduces gatherings, indoor and outdoor dining, and lodging to members of one household. Additionally, the level reduces lodging capacity to 50 percent and the occupancy of non-critical office space to 10 percent.

Lindsey Mills, county public information consultant, told The Norwood Post on Monday the bifurcation was the best decision. She said it’s about recognizing differences between the communities.

“The Norwood area has seen a decrease in cases in line with the majority of the state,” she said. “The Telluride area is seeing steady increases similar to other resort communities. While the two areas are inextricably connected, several weeks of data collection and continued robust testing supported the differentiation of policy.”