A prudent approach to re-opening

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It is in the best interest of the City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County to re-open our economy as soon we are able to do so without compromising our health care system’s ability to respond to the COVID pandemic. We all feel the urgency of returning people to work, and moving our economy forward.

The City, County, local health department and local hospitals are in constant communication about the status of the virus in our area, the data around spread, the resources available, and the situation around testing.

A successful, phased re-opening must be driven by data-based decisions. While there is both fear and impatience at play in social media, news items and editorials, we cannot let those emotions drive a decision that can only responsibly be made by the constant and extensive evaluation of medical data in our community.

To date, Colorado Springs and El Paso County has done well in mitigating the COVID-19 crisis. Our numbers are encouraging. We are optimistic that we will be ready to move on to the next phase very soon. But this is not the time to let down our guard. It is everyone’s responsibility to act responsibly, follow state and CDC guidelines and be vigilant in maintaining social distancing practices in order to help move us forward.

The City, County and El Paso County Public Health are constantly consulting extensive local modeling to guide in moving at a pace that will have the best outcome for our community’s health and safety. This modeling takes into account the number of new cases and hospitalizations, the availability of resources such as ICU beds and testing. It looks at potential impact of social distancing adherence. It is not a simple equation, and not without significant variables. But it is the most scientific and reliable information we have, and it will guide key decisions to move our community forward.

We appreciate the state’s willingness to look at localities individually as our specific data drives our decisions. Governor Polis laid out the criteria by which counties may be able to move through the phased re-opening and relax restrictions quicker than those currently mandated by the state. That criteria is as follows:

  • The county must be able to show 14 consecutive days of decline in the number of new cases or a very low number of cases overall and; 
  • The county must have a written COVID suppression plan approved by local Public Health authorities, hospitals and the Board of County Commissioners.
     

These criteria would allow our County to apply to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment for easements of various restrictions. We are looking at our data to determine when we would be in such a position. On the flip side, many counties or cities have voluntarily enacted restrictions over and above those mandated by the state.

At this time, El Paso County is among the least restrictive counties in Colorado.

We thank all residents of Colorado Springs and El Paso County for their discipline and shared sacrifice over the last month of Stay at Home orders, which has allowed us to be enter this second phase of recovery. We continue to ask our residents to be vigilant in responsible social distancing and other preventative practices as we work to restore our community to its usual state of strength and prosperity.    

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