As the global pandemic continues to affect communities around the world, recent access to the COVID-19 vaccine has provided a much-needed glimmer of hope for a return to normalcy. While the vaccine rollout overall has had its ups and downs, some communities have had great success administering doses to residents. One such community is Larimer County, Colorado, who—with the help of TIP’s Occupational Risk Tool—acquired extra doses of the vaccine for northern Colorado’s at-risk workers.
The Occupational Risk Tool was created by TIP to help communities understand which residents are at higher risk of job-related virus exposure and which are at higher risk of financial instability so they can more effectively direct resources to support their constituents during the pandemic. By analyzing the data gathered from the tool, community leaders in Larimer County were able to do just that. The risk tool was provided to Larimer and Weld counties as part of TIP’s engagement with Reignite Our Economy, a public-private collaboration formed to respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19. The tool’s data set, which plots more than 700 occupations using two risk scores, enables users to assess the concentration of high-risk workers by county or district and by industry.
By evaluating their community’s specific data, Larimer County was able to identify which areas, and in turn which residents, would benefit most physically and economically from additional access to vaccines. The data gathered via the risk tool was instrumental in the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment securing 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for its front-line restaurant and food service workers, who were more than ready to receive the shot.
That readiness was in part due to Colorado’s 5 Star State Certification program, which “encourages businesses to implement safety measures beyond what is already required by public health orders and guidelines” so they may “be able to accelerate their reopening.” With the incentive of the 5 Star program front of mind (locally known as the Level Up Program), eager service workers lined up for a drive-through event at The Ranch Events complex on March 23rd and took one big step toward economic recovery by getting vaccinated. According to Larimer County Economic Development Manager Adam Crowe, “the community is being very responsive and very thankful” since the vaccination event.
Guiding vaccine distribution is just one way the Occupational Risk Tool can serve the county. Crowe says the data gleaned from the risk tool has emphasized and provided more context to a skills transferability study being conducted by the county in conjunction with Colorado State University. The goal of this study is to identify which occupations have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which populations are represented in those occupations, and how to help workers transition into new occupations wherever necessary.
Economic trends have made it clear that many populations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Given the continued uncertainty about the pandemic’s lasting effects, communities that are using this economic downturn as a chance to revisit the allocation of local resources and reimagine their workforce structures—as Larimer County has done—could gain a competitive advantage. Now is the time to use all the tools we have to restructure and create a “new normal” that is more equitable, inclusive, and resilient.
Visit NoCoRecovers.com for more up-to-date information on potential funding resources available to support the business community of Northern Colorado.
For more information about how the Occupational Risk Tool might be used to better understand your community, contact TIP Strategies at firstname.lastname@example.org.