Pueblo County Sheriff speaks to reporters as Pueblo County's COVID-19 delivers their community reponse. (PULP Colorado)

Pueblo County Braces for Coronavirus Spread

As if a forest fire was churning through one of Colorado’s forest, in a show of readiness, Pueblo leaders say they are united to face the coronavirus spread into the area.

The local picture: Pueblo County has moved into its mitigation phase to slow “rapid spread” of coronavirus into Pueblo County.

What happened? Pueblo County’s COVID group, working with community partners across the area, came out in a united front to promote social distancing, good hygiene and to take active measures to slow the international pandemic.

Zero confirmed positives for Pueblo County: There have been tests on Puebloans over COVID-19, but those tests have come back negative. As of March 12, 2020, no Puebloan has tested a presumptive positive for the virus.

What is Pueblo County doing? Mitigation and flattening the curve: Dr. Chris Urbina, Medical Director for Public Health, said Pueblo’s county’s goal is to flatten the curve to slow the spread of COVID-19. Flattening the curve means to stop the early spike that would result in a lot of people getting sick at once, potentially overwhelming Pueblo’s health infrastructure.

  • Pueblo’s incident command team response: Much like a fire, the structure for the county and city to deal with this is set-up similarly. But this team will be activated when the need arises.
  • Pueblo’s Public Health didn’t wait for the Feds: Randy Evetts, Director of Public Health and his team, activated their incident command response in late February. Pueblo Health said they have been monitoring the virus since late December.

What this means for Pueblo County? 

  • Health officials still say the best weapon to slow the spread is to practice social distancing and good hygiene.
  • Health officials want to stress that resources from the state and federal governments will be allocated to areas that are affected the most. This means tests are only going to those people who show symptoms.
  • There are no current plans for drive-by testing like in Denver.

How serious is Pueblo County taking this? Very. Sarah Joseph, Public Health Information Officer, told PULP, “I’ve never experienced a response quite like this. But we have been preparing for outbreaks like this for years.”

A community starts to separate:

  • Southern Colorado Universities are going remote: Adams State UniversityPueblo Community College, and CSU-Pueblo have announced they will go to remote classes. CSU-Pueblo will go remote on March 16, and PCC will extend their spring break a week then go to remote classes on March 30.
  • Public Schools are open, but activities are being canceled: Colorado High School Activities Association has announced all spring sports and activities will be suspended until April 6.
  • Mixed messages on large gatherings: As sports leagues go dark around the nation, and as Denver cultural events are cancelled — Pueblo leaders at this time are not recommending cancellation of large gatherings or events.

Our take:  Not since 9/11 has America seen a type of response like this. On the local level, normally this type of effort is seen in response to forest fires. The COVID-19 threat to Southern Colorado is real and it’s happening.

Also, wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick. Be smart.

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