Health officials encouraged by virus data

Posted at 11:10 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 01:10:58-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The objective remained the same at Wednesday's media briefing by the El Paso County and Colorado Springs Joint Information Center over the COVID 19 response; flatten the curve. Whether it's positive tests for the virus, hospitalizations or deaths; the local numbers all keep going up.

However, public health professionals are encouraged by the slowing pace of how often those numbers are "doubling."

"We're seeing our doubling time extend," Johnson said. "You want that number to get bigger and we're beginning to see some of those trends here."

With that goal in mind, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers announced plans to open City Auditorium as a respite shelter where the homeless can recover in isolation.

"This shelter is absolutely vital in providing respite for these individual while keeping our other homeless shelters safe and free of disease," the mayor said.

Several local charities are pitching-in by providing staff, meals, clothes and even rides to the hospital.

Jennifer Mariano of the Community Health Partnership heads the Continuum of Care homeless consortium in the community. She wants people to understand that no medical care is being provided at the shelter.

"This is simply a place for homeless individuals to respite, in a home like you and I would, should we come down with these symptoms," Mariano said.

Despite the slowing spread, the virus remains a threat among vulnerable populations at long term care facilities, which is how the CDC classifies nursing homes and assisted living centers.

Dr. Johnson said people have become sick with the virus at five locations. In three of them, more than one person is sick changing the classification to an outbreak.

"We are continuing to work with all of our long term care facilities and we have been educating them on the protocols that are coming from CDC, CDPHE, as well as to inform them about safety for their own staff," Johnson said.

Long term care facilities have put many new restrictions on visitors and the public in general is being asked to stay at home.

As for the hospitals, Johnson said the Pikes Peak Region hasn't experienced an overwhelming surge in the number of patients the way their peers in others states have. Nevertheless, the health department is actively looking for alternatives should they need it.

The City was planning to open the City Auditorium respite facility by 4:00 p.m. Wednesday. However, that opening was delayed due to a complication with staffing and insurance. City spokesperson Jamie Fabos said in a statement that their partners at UCHealth and the area homeless shelters who were planning to refer people to the facility were notified. The auditorium is currently set up to house 70 people. However, that number can grow to 100 if it's needed.

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