COVID-19 update for May 6: Two months into Colorado’s COVID-19 crisis

At a news conference May 6, Gov. Jared Polis noted that it had been two months since the first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was diagnosed in Colorado.

“It is now found to be extremely likely that the virus was circulating in Colorado, unbeknownst to us, before that first case was diagnosed,” Polis added, suggesting that could have been “in January or in February.” That’s true for states across the country, he said.

Polis reiterated that the state has so far succeeded in “flattening the curve” and slowing the spread of the virus without overwhelming the health care system. Still, he said, Coloradans should only be having a third (or less) of the interactions with other people that they were having in January.

As of 4 p.m. on May 6, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was reporting 17,830 cases of COVID-19 statewide, including 1,055 in El Paso County.

There have been 921 deaths statewide and 77 in El Paso County, and 2,986 people hospitalized statewide. All of that data is current through May 5.

Colorado’s Unified Command Center launched the Residential Care Task Force, which will aim to “reduce the spread of illness and number of deaths” in settings such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Older adults and people with disabilities who lived in such settings account for more than 50 percent of Colorado’s deaths related to COVID-19, the command center noted in a statement.

The task force has already tested nearly 1,900 asymptomatic staff and residents at six nursing facilities and a veterans’ home in Colorado, and is working on a contract with Colorado State University to expand testing to thousands of staff members per week for eight weeks, the statement says.

As of May 6, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was reporting 170 outbreaks of COVID-19 at long-term facilities in the state. El Paso County has six active outbreaks, the biggest of which is at Winslow Court Retirement Community. There, 28 residents and 12 staff members are believed to have COVID-19, and 11 residents have died.

You can view the state’s detailed outbreak data, which is updated each Wednesday, online.

Colorado received approval for a $7.9 million emergency funding request from the federal Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services, to support the state’s Office of eHealth Innovation and Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

“This funding will go toward innovations that include telemedicine and telemonitoring,” Polis said in a statement. “This technology will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and provide Coloradans an effective and safe alternative to in-person care.”

To learn more about free, insurance-based and fee-based telehealth options, you can look through a directory on the state’s website.

The following COVID-19 testing sites are currently operating in El Paso County:

• UCHealth testing tent (Colorado Springs): 175 S. Union Blvd., Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

• Peak Vista testing site (Colorado Springs): 3205 North Academy Blvd., Monday – Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

• Centura Health testing center (Monument): 17230 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Suite 120, Monday – Friday,  10 a.m.-3 p.m.

• Children’s Hospital Colorado testing site (Colorado Springs): 4125 Briargate Pkwy. (parking lot of Briargate Outpatient and Specialty Care), seven days a week, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m

• Kaiser Permanente/CDPHE sites: For location info, call 303-692-2700. Only for symptomatic first responders and health care workers.

People providing regular care for children of family members, friends or neighbors can access free, personalized virtual support and early learning resources through Alliance for Kids, El Paso County’s Early Childhood Council.

To learn more, contact Erika Cincotta, Alliance for Kids’ early learning and literacy specialist, at 719-466-9562 or ECincotta@allianceforkids.org.

The Pikes Peak Library District also offers virtual programming for kids, teens and adults. For example, students in grades K-12 across El Paso County can submit images of their artwork for a virtual art show through May 31. Or, try the library district’s weekly digital escape rooms.

Starting May 6, the city and county of Denver (and Denver International Airport) are requiring people to wear face coverings when inside of, or waiting in line to enter, all businesses, government facilities, health care locations and public transportation.

Beginning May 9, the following types of businesses will gradually begin to reopen in Denver:

• Non-critical retail such as clothing, home goods and cell phone stores (with 50 percent of employees)
• Personal services such as hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, pet groomers and personal trainers (with 10 or fewer people in a single location)
• Non-critical offices (with 50 percent of employees)
• Field services, such as in-person real estate showings
• Limited health care (with 10 or fewer people in a single location)
• Postsecondary education

Public and private gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited, as with the rest of the state.

Visit Denver’s website for more information on guidelines.


One Nation Walking Together
, a Springs-based nonprofit that supports Native American communities, is asking the community for assistance collecting supplies.

The nonprofit will distribute items to people living on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, as well as the Navajo Nation, an area covering parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

“Navajo Nation is the size of West Virginia yet has only 13 grocery stores to service the people living there,” the nonprofit said in a statement, adding that many people do not have running water or electricity in their homes.

The following items can be dropped off at 3150 N. Nevada Ave. on May 7 or May 9, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.:

• Masks (disposable and fabric)
• Latex gloves
• Thermometers
• Finger pulse oximeters
• Nonperishable food and water
• Baby food and formula
• Hygiene items/toiletries
• Pet food
• Quarter-inch elastic
• 100 percent cotton and flannel fabric
• Polypropylene
• Thread and needles
• Cleaning supplies
• Liquid hand soap
• Hand sanitizer

On May 11, a semi-truck loaded with supplies will leave for Rosebud, South Dakota, and on May 18, a rented box truck will depart for the Navajo Nation.

Reporter

Faith Miller is a Colorado Springs native and a 2018 graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Miller’s past experience includes a multiplatform editing internship at the Los Angeles Times.