RISE (Resilient, Inspired, Strong, Engaged) Southeast was in front of Sand Creek Library on July 8, 9, and 10, giving away free infrared thermometers to local small businesses. 

“RISE is a coalition made up of non-profit organizations, agencies in the city and county, private business owners, and best of all, residents of Southeast,” said Joyce Salazar, RISE’s community outreach coordinator. “We’re partnering with the Small Business Development Center and the Pikes Peak Library District to provide infrared thermometers for free for small business owners.” 

RISE is providing the thermometers, “because a lot of times everything is everywhere else in the city, so our partners realize how important it is to reach the community where we are,” Salazar said.

The thermometer giveaway comes as El Paso County is experiencing an increase in cases of COVID-19 after the El Paso County Board of Commissioners requested a variance from the governor’s “Safer at Home” order on June 29 , to allow businesses to serve more customers. The variance, which was approved by the state on the same day, allows restaurants and indoor events to “increase capacity to 50 percent of the posted occupancy code up to 175 people in a confined indoor space.” On June 30 Gov. Jared Polis ordered bars and nightclubs closed state-wide after an uptick in COVID-19 cases. 

“Our partners have recognized that there is a trend in Southeast [Colorado Springs],” Salazar said. “We are noticing there are quite a few cases.” 

As of July 12, the 80910 and 80916 zip codes have had 458 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 14.8 percent of El Paso County’s 3,100 cases. Colorado has seen 36,913 cases.

“The infrared thermometers are great because when you’re asking your clients or your customers or your employees those questions: ‘Have you had a fever? How are you feeling?’ Providing a thermometer to business owners gives that extra little measure of protection,” Salazar said.

Six businesses in Southeast Colorado Springs, out of 17 total businesses in the city, have been sites of COVID-19 outbreaks, including the McDonalds on Airport Creek Point and the Colorado Springs Airport. One of the city’s five outbreaks in long-term care facilities took place at Laurel Manor Care Center on Chelton Road, with 42 confirmed cases and 41 probable cases. There have been 398 outbreaks across Colorado.

Infrared thermometers can cost anywhere from $30 at Wal-Mart to $90 on Amazon. While price may not be a barrier for some businesses, being able to find thermometers can be a challenge. Personal protective equipment and medical supplies such as masks, gloves, disposable gowns and thermometers have grown scarce during the pandemic.

RISE and its community partners will be able to supply thermometers to business owners throughout Southeast Colorado Springs. 

“We were issued 180 thermometers,” Salazer said. “We separated them out between RISE, the Community Barbershop and the Solid Rock Community Development Corporation.” 

RISE will be distributing thermometers at Sand Creek Library, 1821 S. Academy Blvd., while supplies last; The Community Barbershop is distributing them from their location at 3750 Astrozon Blvd.; and, according to Salazar, “Solid Rock will be distributing thermometers beginning in August.”

In addition to widespread use of thermometers, simple measures such as frequent hand-washing, maintaining a distance of 6 feet between individuals and wearing a face mask in public can help curb the spread of COVID-19. 

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers warned on Facebook July 10 that: “if it comes down to choosing between closing our businesses again, or putting a mask mandate in place, I would likely side with our local business community and enact a mandate to protect them.”