Colorado mountain communities have taken steps to curtail out-of-area tourism, hoping to minimize the spread of COVID-19 into their areas. Trinidad in Las Animas County is especially vulnerable, in that it receives many visitors in search of legal marijuana from Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The restaurants, bars and motels are closed, and so are the campgrounds, now.

“The directors of the public health program have every right to close any public gathering place,” said Otero/Crowley County Public Health CEO Rick Ritter Monday, when asked if a local official could close down public land administered by the federal government. Kim Gonzales, CEO of Las Animas-Huerfano Public Health, affirmed in a telephone call Monday that they have closed the campgrounds to all but local visitors.

With the closing of all the places where the visitors might enjoy their purchases, the region is ready to roll up the welcome mat to out-of-state visitors, said Mark Craddock of the World Journal (Las Animas/Huerfano newspaper) last week.

“The local health department order basically mirrors orders by Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regarding quarantining, social distancing and sheltering in place in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19,” wrote Craddock.

bmcfarren@ljtdmail.com