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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Public Health Order Ambassadors pound the street to beat COVID-19

Public Health Order Ambassadors pound the street to beat COVID-19

These days, it’s hard to get that personal touch of service. As COVID-19 cases were ramping up in parts of Westminster, the city started the Public Health Order Ambassador program to personally deliver education about COVID-19 and community resources to residents in “hot spots”  where COVID-19 cases were increasing.

“By having the information distributed by city employee ambassadors, we wanted to provide a personal touch from the city, to hopefully stop the rise in COVID-19 cases in southern and northern neighborhoods,” said Assistant to the City Manager Kodi Erb Blue.

The Public Health Ambassador program was a partnership between the city, Adams County and Tri-County Health to deliver packets of information to residents about COVID-19 symptoms, testing sites, quarantine FAQs, food pantries, workforce rights and more. The information was available in both English and Spanish.

The city hired 20 ambassadors, who were all existing Parks, Recreation and Libraries Department employees, to work part-time delivering the packets. The first ambassadors started going door-to-door on Nov. 16, 2020 with the last packet delivered at the end of January.

They visited residences in the southern part of the city approximately between Sheridan Boulevard and Zuni Street and between 72nd Avenue and 98th Avenue. They also visited the northern part of the city approximately between Lowell Boulevard and Huron Street and between 108th Avenue and 132nd Avenue.

“Our employees had city-logoed vests and personal protective equipment as they walked the neighborhoods in pairs handing out information,” said Assistant Recreation Facilities Supervisor Maggie Laguardia. “They put the packets on doors or mailboxes or handed it to residents if they were outside their homes.”

The reason for the “personal touch” of delivering information was to try and reach people who may not be digitally connected to the information sent out by Adams County and Tri-County Health. By providing printed materials handed out by a person, the program offered authenticity and legitimacy to the constantly-updated information.

“Since the launch of the program, over 13,000 packets were distributed during the 450 hours the ambassadors worked,” said Open Space Supervisor Ryan Schreiner. “We’re very proud of our staff as they provided this information to all types of residents who live in all types of situations.”

It’s difficult to determine if the program directly decreased the number of COVID-19 cases, but Schreiner believes it had an impact.

“I think we saved people’s lives. If even a few people were able to change their behavior by recognizing COVID-19 symptoms, getting tested, quarantining and accessing food pantry resources, then the program was invaluable,” said Schreiner.

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