Southern Colorado sees small rise in COVID-19 cases, reopening a factor

The weekly number of COVID-19 cases in Colorado may be significantly lower now than it was in mid-April, but the previous two weeks have indicated a steady increase in cases across Southern Colorado.

“The increase in cases may be partly due to an increase in Coloradans changing their behavior, especially socializing in larger groups, sometimes without proper distancing or mask wearing,” according to Colorado’s State Joint Information Center.

Reported cases for the week of June 7 totaled 1,140; the lowest since March 15. However, totals for the weeks of June 14 and June 21 tallied 1,479 and 1,726 cases respectively. According to the State Joint Information Center, Colorado has also seen an increase in test percent positivity.

“This should serve as a reminder that Coloradans must continue to stay six feet away from others, wear masks in public to minimize spread, and stay home when sick,” according to the State Joint Information Center.

In Southern Colorado, the San Luis Valley saw a month of outbreaks at rangings at potato farms and processing centers and health care facilities. As of July 2, San Luis Valley Emergency which covers the Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache Counties listed 427 total cases and 81 active.

In Pueblo County, the cumulative number of confirmed and probable cases was 396 as of June 29. Of those cases, 63 of them have been in the 20 to 29 age range.

Pueblo’s major outbreaks have been at resident care homes. At Brookdale El Camino a total of 31 staff and residents tested positive or probable for COVID-19 with 5 resident deaths. At the Columbine Chateau 24 residents and staff were positive.

The highest was the University Park Care where 36 residents and 24 staff were positive. The nursing facility had 7 deaths.

On June 30, it was CDPHE listed the Pueblo Police Department having an outbreak of 2 lab confirmed cases and 8 probable cases.

No cases in Pueblo County are believed to be connected to a protest according to Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment Public Health Director Randy Evetts. But one health warning for community spread was issued after a person who attended a memorial celebration for CSU-Pueblo coach Mike Roumph tested postive for COVID-19.

“Pueblo continues to see positive cases but the numbers per day remain relatively stable,” Evetts said. “Hospitals continue to report low numbers of positive cases in their facilities. As we continue to loosen restrictions we expect to see our numbers increase due to the increasing number of contacts per person. We are monitoring those numbers closely.”

While individuals in their 20s comprise the largest number of confirmed or probable cases in the county, individuals in their 40s and 50s are not far behind with 60 and 62 cases respectively. State data indicates the average of cases is trending younger. The average age of those testing positive has decreased from the upper 40s in April to the current 32 years old.

“Younger people are less likely to have severe symptoms that require hospitalization. However, it’s only a matter of time before transmission among younger people leads to increased transmission among people at higher risk for severe illness,” according to the State Joint Information Center.

Activities considered to be high risk by the Colorado Department of Public Health include group singing, going to nightclubs, working out at gyms, and any large gathering of people in a small space. Lower risk activities include camping, lodging, and other outdoor recreation activities.

“The fate of our state in both virus suppression and economic recovery is largely in the hands of Coloradans,” according to the State Joint Information Center. “If we continue taking the critical steps of staying at home, wearing masks when leaving the house and following social distancing practices, then we will get through this together.”