Coronavirus in Colorado: Case count hits 40,000 statewide – KKTV

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) – Colorado has reached a new milestone in the coronavirus pandemic. There are now more than 40,000 confirmed cases statewide.

Sunday, Governor Jared Polis discussed the state’s response to the July surge on ABC’s “This Week.”

Polis talked with host Martha Raddatz about his decision to issue a statewide mask mandate after showing hesitation about enforcement at first.

“We simply found that they work,” said Polis. “The areas that had mask requirements in our state had 15 percent to 20 percent more mask usage and lower spread of the virus. So, looking at that data, with the desire to keep the economy open, to maximize the ability to return to school in as safe a way as possible for teachers and for students, the mask mandate was really an easy decision, after I saw that data.

Local health experts in Colorado Springs have stressed the importance of wearing face coverings in public spaces before.

“When you go into a business, wearing a mask is to the single most important thing, beyond spending your money, to keep that business open,” said Dr. Leon Kelly, deputy medical director for El Paso County Public “To keep the people that work in that business at work so they can earn a paycheck to support their family.”

El Paso County Public says mask use, combined with social distancing and good hygiene practices are key.

“If we do not change the trajectory now where we’ve been over the last week, the only option left on the table is to shutter those businesses,” said Dr. Kelly.

Data from the county’s health department shows virus transmission levels are “high.” The incidence rate is at 123.39 as of Sunday, July 19th. It tracks the number of new cases per 100,000 people within a 14-day period. The health department then classifies rates into different levels: low, medium, and high. An incidence rate of 100 or more is considered “high.” It’s an indicator that there is a higher transmission level within the community.

El Paso County Public also says hospitalization numbers are increasing. The department’s director, Susan Wheelan, told county commissioners at a recent board meeting that UC had reported they could reach capacity if we continue at this rate.

According to data from Colorado’s Department of Public and Environment, only one hospital in the state is anticipating an ICU bed shortage within the next week. Current hospitalizations in the state are at a lower level than they were in April, but are starting to climb upwards once again.

Research models predict Colorado will exceed ICU capacity in early September if more of the population does not social distance or wear masks. Hospitalizations have been increasing the state since late June, while social distancing has declined since May, according to CDPHE. The state’s top health experts predict we won’t reach our hospital capacity if 65% of the population practices social distancing. They estimate only 40% are social distancing now.

Hospitals in Colorado are watching other states with bigger outbreaks run out of rooms and resources.

“It is burdening their healthcare systems tremendously,” said Dr. Connie Price, Chief Medical Officer at Denver Medical Center.

Dr. Price says the increase we are seeing at this rate is not sustainable long term.

“We are very concerned,” said Dr. Price. “We’re preparing and we are getting ready to do what we need to do to accommodate another surge.”

A mandatory mask order in Colorado requires anyone 11 years and older to wear a covering over their noses and mouths:

The order requires people in Colorado who are 11 years and older to wear a covering over their noses and mouths:

  • When entering or moving within any public indoor space.
  • While using or waiting to use public (buses, light-rail) or non-personal (taxis, car services, ride-shares) transportation services.

People do not need to wear a mask when they are:

  • Hearing-impaired or otherwise disabled or who are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication.
  • Seated at a food service establishment.
  • Exercising alone or with others from the individual’s household, and a face covering would interfere with the activity.
  • Receiving a personal service where the temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Entering a business or receiving services and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes.
  • Are actively engaged in a public safety role such as law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel.
  • Officiating at a religious service.
  • Giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.

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