COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise In Teller County

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Recent Surge May Put Area In Former Red Zone

Rick Langenberg

Teller County’s preliminary victory against the revamped COVID-19 invasion is badly losing momentum with the area suffering from a renewed coronavirus surge, similar to other locales in Colorado.

In fact, if current trends continue, and the previous state-wide color-coded rankings were put in place, Teller could enter the red warning zone, equivalent to one in which some businesses could get shut down by the state.

That was  a highlight of the latest report given last week by Cripple Creek Finance Director Paul Harris, a member of the county’s coronavirus task force, during the council’s regular meeting. “The numbers continue to increase,” said Harris.

According to the task force member, the August COVID numbers have been released, and Teller recorded  115 cases, representing a 58 percent increase from the previous month.

But a statistic that has concerned health and government officials deals with the number of COVID inflictions reported in the final week of August. Teller got hit with 50 cases in a seven-day period, and was tracking a per capita COVID rare of 319.5 inflictions per 100,000 people.

That is worse than El Paso  County, which tracked a rate of 254 per 100,000 people.

Harris informed the council that if the former COVID color dial codes were used, this rise in instances could nearly put Teller in the red zone, equivalent to meaning that state authorities could consider shutting down certain businesses, such as casinos.

But those state color code standards are no longer in place. And county officials continue to stress that they have no plans for issuing any mask mandates or COVID-vaccine requirements for employment.

Harris stated that for all of the tracking numbers, Teller definitely took a bigtr hit in the last part of August.

Prior to this point, the county was holding its own and almost emerged as a relatively safe zone, compared to other counties in the state. The county, in fact, only had a small number of the cases attributed to the Delta variant.

The county also is not gaining much ground in the number of total vaccinated citizens. Harris cited findings that 51.4 percent of the population in Teller is fully vaccinated. This is much lower than the state average, but is similar to other rural areas.

Still, no policy changes have been announced at the state or local levels. “We all need to get along and respect each other for our own choice,” said Teller County Administrator Sheryl Decker, in a recent interview with TMJ News. Decker and the county commissioners have stressed the importance of individual choice regarding the vaccination situation.

However, the latest surge has made more residents and business operators nervous.

In Cripple Creek, a lot more business employees, such as casino workers and even visitors, are donning protective  masks. For the most part, southern Teller has been spared from the brunt of the epidemic. Harris said the town experienced nine new cases in August.

According to the latest statistics on the county’s  COVID website, Teller recorded more than 2,123  positive cases (as of Friday afternoon) since the epidemic began and one death.

The overall  percentages of the COVID hot spots have not changed much, with the vast majority of cases occurring in Woodland Park, followed by  Florissant and Divide.

Help is one the way, though, if certain people at risk want to gain additional protection, according to county officials.

Teller County Public Health and Environment may begin administering additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect immunocompromised individuals in the near future.

Additional Information for individuals eligible to receive the booster dose under the FDA recommendation is available on the Teller County webpage:

“Our goal is to ensure that our immunocompromised community members continue to be prioritized while we follow the state guidance to administer an additional dose of mRNA vaccines to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19,” said Teller County Public Health Director Martha Hubbard, in a statement on the county’s COVID website.  “We will administer that additional dose immediately through our scheduled vaccination clinics as long as the recipient has had at least four weeks since their second dose.”