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BLOG: COVID-19 response across Southern Colorado

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Posted at 7:46 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-15 13:32:13-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — In a press conference Monday, Gov. Jared Polis announced plans to extend the statewide mask mandate for an additional 30 days and continued to look to local governments in Colorado to turn around their worsening COVID-19 rates in lieu of further statewide restrictions.

The state reported 3,890 new cases and 1,270 hospitalizations Tuesday.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said she believes about 1 in 100 Coloradans currently have COVID-19, as cases have topped 2,000 per day over the past week and 3,000 over the past couple of days.

Pfizer announced Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been 90% effective. In a press release, the company said that in Phase 3 trials, the vaccine has proven to promote a vaccine efficacy rate above 90% following the two-shot regimen.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it’s possible a vaccine could begin reaching some Americans by the end of the month but was confident some would begin getting vaccinated by the end of the year.

Polis said he was hopeful some dosage may be available in 2020, potentially 100,000 to 200,000 doses available to Colorado to be distributed according to the state's vaccination plan. For most Coloradans, it likely wouldn't be more widely available until 2021.

Here's where things stand in southern Colorado:

How a county's restrictions are determined on Colorado's COVID-19 dial

EL PASO COUNTY

El Paso County is now at the Safer at Home: Level 3 on the state's COVID-19 dial.

This means restaurants can only be at 25% capacity (or up to 50 people) inside. The office workforce will be reduced to 25% capacity. Gyms must sit at 25% capacity or up to 25 people. Retail stores must also be at 25% capacity.

When it comes to COVID-19 testing, Dr. Robin Johnson, Medical Director for El Paso County Public Health, said there are plenty of places in El Paso County where people can go to get tested. For more information on testing and to find a site near you, click here.

As a result of rapidly increasing cases in El Paso County, the health department said this week it may not be able to complete contact tracing for all positive cases in the county.

Jury trials are also being suspended until next year in El Paso and Teller counties as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

El Paso County officials are launching an educational campaign as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. The county said #SmallActs, the campaign kicking off Monday, will encourage residents to perform small acts "that can make a big impact on stopping the spread of the coronavirus cases."

The county's two biggest school districts have made many changes due to COVID-19.

District 49 officials announced Friday it would move students back to remote learning for the rest of the fall semester. The district said there have been 35 confirmed cases among students and staff with two-thirds of the school district in precautionary quarantines.

D11 announced on Wednesday that students will be moving to remote learning for the rest of the Semester, after the Thanksgiving break. Find the latest from the district here: https://www.d11.org/

All Academy District 20 middle and high schools will transition to eLearning through at least the end of the first semester beginning Monday, Nov. 16 due to COVID-19 concerns.

Harrison School District 2 announced Wednesday it is moving to e-learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic starting after Thanksgiving break.

Find the latest from the El Paso County Public Health here: https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/

PUEBLO COUNTY

The City of Pueblo is currently under a curfew. The curfew is from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The mayor extended the curfew on Thursdy, Nov. 12.. The extension begins at 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13 and goes until Friday, Nov. 27 at 5 a.m.

Pueblo County Department of Public Health officials announced Thursday the county would be moving into the "high risk" level on the state COVID-19 dial Saturday. The county will be in Safer At Home Orange effective at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The county's schools are also facing changes due to COVID-19.

District 60 announced Monday that starting November 11, all District 60 high schools will transition to distance or remote learning. The district anticipates the shift to distance learning will be in effect through the end of the first semester. Students in grades PreK-8 will also transition to distance learning following Thanksgiving break on November 30. The district said this move has become necessary due to the extremely high incidence of COVID-19 transmission throughout the community.

School District 70 officials are warning that more restrictions could come if COVID cases continue to increase. Officials want parents to prepare for the possibility of switching to remote or limited hybrid learning.

Find the latest information from the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment here: https://county.pueblo.org/public-health/pueblo-department-public-health-and-environment

TELLER COUNTY

On Friday, Nov. 13, Teller County officials were notified by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) that the county will be moving from Yellow to Orange in the Safer at Home category on the state COVID-19 dial.

Orange is the "high risk" level and changes must be in place by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16.

Teller County had only just moved into Safer At Home: Level 2 on Monday, Nov. 9.

Teller County Public Health and Environment has been tracking outbreaks of COVID-19 associated with events held at the conference center at Andrew Wommack Ministries in Teller County. An order issued last week grants Teller County and the State of Colorado's request for a preliminary injunction to require Andrew Wommack Ministries to comply with the state's COVID-19 public health orders.

This order issued by the 4th Judicial District blocks the ministry from holding or hosting a conference or event that does not comply with public health orders, including "the social distancing and masking requirements and the attendance caps."

Jury trials are also being suspended until next year in El Paso and Teller counties as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

Find the latest information from the Teller County Health Department here: https://www.tellercovid.com/

FREMONT COUNTY

The Fremont County Department of Public Health and Environment announced Monday that on Nov. 10 the county is moving to Safer at Home: Level 2. The county has also extended the current emergency public health order to Nov.19.

The county has also extended the current emergency public health order to Nov.19.

The county said officials are aware and attuned to the burden these restrictions place on businesses and the community. Businesses or anyone else that has questions are encouraged to contact the health department at 719-276-7450.

Saturday morning, the Fremont County Sheriff's Office (FCSO) issued a release regarding a potential outbreak of COVID-19 at the county detention center. According to the FCSO, the detention center medical staff observed COVID-19 symptoms in an inmate on Friday, Nov. 6. Additional inmates also began displaying symptomatic behaviors.

The FCSO said they are currently awaiting testing results but are treating the situation as if it is a positive test, until the results are confirmed. Jail and Administration operations will be adjusted to maintain the safety, security, and health of all inmates.

Find the latest from the Fremont County Department of Public Health and Environment here: https://www.fremontco.com/public-health/public-health-and-environment

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