COVID Assault Continues to Haunt Teller County and Pikes Peak Region

October Marks the Worst Pandemic Month For Local Area

Rick Langenberg

The COVID invasion and related death toll continues to plague the local area, with officials hoping for a swift turnaround.

But the assault of coronavirus inflictions now is part of a statewide trend, with Colorado being rated as one of the nation’s hotspots. The main culprit continues to be the Delta variant.

And for the first time in weeks, the Teller County commissioners, while still taking a hands-off approach towards any mandates, encouraged residents, worried about their health, to get vaccinated. At last week’s meeting, Commissioner Erik Stone noted that all of the recent slew of COVID deaths in Teller County involved individuals not vaccinated. While respecting the rights of individuals to  make a personal choice, he emphasized that current information regarding COVID-19 supports the value of COVID vaccinations, especially if people have bad health. “Evaluate  your own (health) decision,” said Stone.

The commissioners, however, still are opposed to government-imposed mandates.

“It is what it is,” added Commission Vice-chairman Dan Williams.  The commissioners last week highlighted upcoming community clinics, sponsored by Teller County Public Health and Environment, including the new ones for booster shots.  They encouraged residents to visit the county’s COVID website, which allows appointments to be made fairly easily.

These comments followed with another bad turn for the COVID invasion in Teller County in the last month.

According to statistics compiled by Cripple Creek Finance Director Paul Harris, a member of the county’s coronavirus task force, October emerged as the worst month of the pandemic for Teller County since the epidemic struck in March 2020. A total of 459 cases were added, an increase of 35 percent over September, which was rated as a terrible COVID month. In fact, Teller’s case load has experienced a nearly 400-case infliction increase since July.

But the statistics that are really troubling officials and leaders  deal with the recent toll of COVID-related deaths, with nine people dying from the epidemic in the last two weeks, with five fatalities occurring just from the most recent report.

As a result, Teller is still lingering in the red danger zone, a spot it has inhabited for  10 weeks, according to Harris’ report. In fact, now inflictions have spread more to southern Teller, with Cripple Creek reporting a 167 percent hike in cases.

Teller is currently recording 93 cases in the last seven days, according to the county’s COVID website This equates to 372 per 100,000 on a per capita basis. Those figures are definitely red numbers, meaning that if the state’s code-colored restrictions were still in place, many businesses would be forced to shut down.

Concerns Over COVID Deaths

At last week’s commissioners meeting, County Administrator Sheryl Decker expressed much remorse over the recent turn of events on the COVID front, and sympathized with family members of the epidemic victims.

“That is heartbreaking,” said Decker, in describing the death of 10 individuals in the last month due to COVID. “That is sad.  We are on a surge.”

Although the case numbers have slowed down slightly last week, she noted that Teller is not recovering as fast as a year ago, when a similar surge occurred.

But if there is an upside to the news:  Teller County is certainly not alone in its struggles with COVID-19.

Neighboring  El Paso County has experienced an unprecedented invasion that would easily surpass the statistics in Teller County. On Thursday, more than 600 COVID cases were reported in El Paso County, according to KRDO News.  On a statewide basis, Colorado is losing about 25 people per day due to COVID inflictions.

This trend has put a real strain on area hospitals.

And to make matters worse, the COVID invasion could come with some scary economic impacts.  President Joe Biden announced late last week that starting on Jan. 4, the federal government will require all private businesses, with 100 and more employees, to have all of their employees vaccinated. Unvaccinated workers would have to submit to weekly tests and be forced to wear masks. The president had suggested this forthcoming requirement recently, but stopped short of announcing specific details.

No forced mandates are being imposed, though, for local and state governments.

The potential  impact of these forthcoming restrictions is being evaluated, such as how these rules would be enforced. Plus, these suggested rules may prompt a flurry of lawsuits.

Local elected leaders in the Pikes Peak region strongly object to these proposed rules and have predicted a legal war over these vaccine mandates.