Despite hike at state level, cases leveling off in local area
~ by Trevor Phipps ~
The numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to increase across Colorado, but locally this virus outbreak has not experienced much of a rise.
Currently, Teller County has gotten hit with 18 confirmed cases, with two deaths related to the pandemic. Statewide the number of confirmed cases has exceeded 9,000 with nearly 400 deaths.
Recently, the governor extended the statewide stay-at-home order until April 26. After April
26, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said that he plans to slowly open the state back up in phases, while keeping social distancing requirements in place at first.
Polis also announced last Friday that stricter requirements were needed especially in assisted living homes to further protect vulnerable people. As a result, Polis enacted another executive order that requires all essential employees to wear masks while they are working. Before it was recommended that essential workers wear masks, but now it is required by law for everyone including grocery store workers to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth.
During an official announcement last Friday, Polis said that he realizes the importance of getting businesses opened back up. However, he did say that it could be quite some time before things will go completely back to normal, and people can go to sporting events, concerts, and bars.
Polis said that he hopes the pandemic will pass soon, and that Colorado life can get back to normal as soon as possible. “When this is all past us, I don’t ever want to hear the term ‘social distancing’ again,” the governor said.
Local agencies not experiencing a big increase in crime
Locally, the county still has relatively small numbers of the virus but the stay-at-home order has some residents concerned about an increase in other types of problems. Speculation has persisted that cases of child abuse, domestic violence and suicide have increased recently.
However, according to local law enforcement officials, local crime has not really been on the rise. Some law enforcement agencies have even seen less police activity.
According to statistics provided by Teller County Sheriff Commander Greg Couch, the sheriff’s office has responded to 21 domestic violence calls, three child abuse calls and two suicides this year with only four domestic violence calls occurring during the month of April. But, by this time last year, the county had experienced 25 domestic violence calls, four child abuse calls and four calls relating to suicide and three domestic violence calls took place during the first part of the month of April. In 2018, the numbers were about the same with a few less child abuse and domestic violence calls, but more calls related to suicide.
According to Woodland Park Police Commander Ryan Holzwarth, officers have been busy and responding to a variety of different calls, but that one type of crime has not stood out. “Crimes against persons have kind of gone up a little bit for us,” Holzwarth said. “But suicides, domestic violence and child abuse have stayed about the same. Domestic violence is a crime against a person, but we have seen only a slight increase….This time last year we had five, and maybe we have had seven this year, so it has only gone up by a call or two. I wouldn’t say there has been a big spike in child abuse or any of those other things at all.”
Holzwarth also said that they have not had a lot of police calls related to the virus. “We have had more enforcement action on our part as far as businesses and houses, like going to Walmart more often and things like that to make sure that everyone is being good,” the commander explained. “But people in Teller County and in the city have been great. They have been abiding by the laws and following the directions of the stores where they go. We haven’t had any issues at all really.”
Cripple Creek Police Chief Bud Bright said that with the casinos being closed in the town, the criminal activity has been pretty quiet for police. “There has definitely not been as many domestic violence calls or any suicides in Cripple Creek since all of this has happened,” Bright said. “We are doing a lot of officer-initiated directed patrols and business checks, but our total response calls are down. We have taken a lot of phone calls but the calls for service have been barking dogs, dogs at large, or ‘my neighbor’s making too much noise,’ those types of calls. But, with the casinos closed it’s almost like a ghost town.”