COLORADO SPRINGS — El Paso County officials announced the county has one week to submit a COVID-19 mitigation plan to the state health department and if it is not approved, the county will see further restrictions.
The county's status on the state's COVID-19 dial is at risk due to the rising numbers of COVID-19. As of Friday morning, El Paso County Health's data states the county has seen 217.3 positive cases per 100,000 people in a two-week period with a 5.34% positivity rate.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers began the press conference and said the next several weeks are critical to getting COVID-19 numbers to a manageable state.
"It's the small acts that can make a big difference," he said. "...Our community's health and economic vitality depend upon it."
For the county to remain in our current Safer at Home 1: Cautious, the positivity rate needs to be 5% or less. Right now, we are standing at a 5.34% positivity rate. If the county does move to a lower level on the state dial, capacity limits would be impacted in places of worship, retail, restaurants, events and other spaces.
Suthers said the culprits of this increase are informal group gatherings where there is no social distancing and choosing not to go indoors.
El Paso County Public Health Medical Director Dr. Robin Johnson urged the community to step up to help control the spread of the virus by taking responsibility for your individual actions.
"As we head into the winter months, we know that things like the common cold, flu, and now COVID will be circulating at the same time," she said. She reminded residents that if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to get tested and be guided in the next steps if you are positive.
El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller said the county has one week from today to provide the state health department a mitigation plan and if the state does not approve, we face more restrictions and reverse the progress we have made.
"Make no mistake, once again unless these numbers start going down, the state will engage in further restrictions," he said. "...Let's make the right choices so the state doesn't have to come in and make those choices for us."
Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC Dirk Draper followed Waller and encouraged businesses to telework to limit the number of people at the workplace as well as evaluate sick-leave policies. Speaking on the education front, Chief Education Officer School District 49 Peter Hilts urged the community to step up and help keep the county's schools open for the children.
At the end of September, El Paso County Health officials warned that the county's status on the state dial could be at risk after a rise in the county's incidence rate. Experts say it's time to realize the virus isn’t going anywhere, especially when you combine the weather with the upcoming holiday season.