COVID Numbers Rising Locally; Following State Trends

County Officials Not Expected to Impose More Restrictions


Rick Langenberg

With the COVID-19 epidemic still raging across Colorado and the Pikes Peak region, cases continue to rise in Teller County.


Still, officials and school authorities are holding firm on not imposing any more restrictions. Also, with the area serving as a GOP stronghold, most leaders aren’t taking seriously the new vaccine mandates proposed by President Joe Biden, which would require all private businesses with 100-plus workers to get their employees vaccinated or to have them tested regularly.


Most officials say these mandates have little chance to be implemented and should not impact local governments.


Masks are rarely seen by visitors, government workers and business employees, except for certain businesses.


Sill, some of the COVID news is concerning.


Cripple Creek Finance Director Paul Harris, who serves on the county’s coronavirus task force, delivered another somber account of the new COVID surge locally. He admitted the COVID infection case load is rising.


Harris reported  to the city council last week that the county experienced 118 new cases for the first 14 days of September. “That is already more than what we had for the entire month of August,” said Harris.

Moreover, he cited one day last week in which the area got walloped with 22 cases and another death.


According to certain indicators, especially  in the rise of cases over a short-term period, Harris admitted that Teller would be in red danger land.  This is a former color-coded  designation handed down by the state, indicating a definite danger zone, and a rating that could lead to business closures. These former COVID designations, though, are no longer in effect.


At the very end of August, Teller got hit with 50 cases in a seven-day period, ranking Teller on a per capita COVID rate of 319.5 inflictions per 100,000 people, a statistic that is troubling.


However, the indicators for Teller County are mixed, noted County Administrator Sheryl Decker. She sees the county falling more into yellow and orange levels.  “It  has really been up and down,” said Decker. On the upside, she said the number of citizens getting vaccinated is rising slowly, and runs parallel to that of other rural counties.


However, this number, now nearing the 55 percent level, is below the state average.


For a short period, Teller appeared insulated from the Delta variant and the explosion in cases in neighboring El Paso County. That is no longer the case, admitted Decker.


El Paso has been reporting 350-plus new cases a day and now is reaching a regional hospital capacity saturation level, a trend that is limiting surgeries and other procedures.  Cases in schools have also exploded across Colorado. Colorado by the middle of last week recorded a seven-day average of 1,700 COVID infections, which compares with 300 in June.


According to the latest numbers on the county’s website Saturday morning, the county has recorded 2,257 positive cases and 20 deaths. Two additional deaths occurred last week.


No New Restrictions

Even with this surge, officials aren’t expecting any more restrictions or new mandates, similar to what is occurring Manitou Springs.


Decker stated that the county commissioners will receive a briefing this week by Teller County Public Health Director Martha Hubbard. The commissioners hold a regular meeting this Thursday and could offer an update, or reaffirm their current hands-off COVID policies.


To date, the commissioners have made it clear they aren’t fans of mandates or COVID restrictions, and view this as an individual choice.


Cripple Creek Interim City Administrator  Ray White is expecting no changes in COVID policies, unless he hears differently from the county.  As a result, no shortage of visitors is anticipated for the aspen foliage viewing season, which should get underway this week.


Teller citizens 65 years of age and older can now qualify for an additional COVID-19 booster shot. However, this injection is not yet available to the general public, based on a decision made last week by the  Federal Drug Administration.