COVID-19 Curse May Become Epidemic of the Past

Cases Continue to Plummet Locally

Trevor Phipps

Over the last few weeks, cases of COVID-19 across the state and country and local region have dropped  steadily, a trend capped by federal guidelines that no longer mandate masks at most indoor settings.

And now, many experts even saying that the nation could be close to being done with the pandemic.

Last week, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) lowered its guidelines and is now using the number of hospitalizations as the metrics to decide if masks are needed instead of new case amounts. The change in the CDC guidelines has prompted even more states to issue dates to repeal their statewide mask mandates.

In fact, every state in the country except one has either ended their mandates or set a date in March when they will end. Hawaii is the only state that still has a statewide mandate, and they have not announced whether or not they will rescind it.

Last week, Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis announced that the state is moving into the next chapter when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently 90 percent of the state of Colorado has some sort of immunity whether it is from them getting all of the vaccinations or getting infected by the disease.

“Thanks to the commitment and resilience of Coloradans doing our part to get vaccinated with all three lifesaving doses, our state’s balanced approach to the pandemic, and the heroism of our health care workers and public health professionals, the vast majority of Coloradans who are vaccinated can proceed with normal life free of fear of the virus. We now have the tools to turn the page and begin a new chapter,” Governor Polis said. “Fully vaccinated Coloradans can rest assured that you are reasonably safe to live your normal pre-pandemic life as the state of Colorado along with our partners in local public health and healthcare providers will be hard at work ensuring our readiness for whatever curveballs or variants the future throws us.”

However, health officials including the director of Colorado’s Division of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Jill Hunsaker Ryan cautioned that there could be more variants that come to light in the future. “Throughout the pandemic, Coloradans have displayed our resilience. Because of everyone’s sacrifices, we are where we are today — in a place where we are able to more safely enjoy the things we love. We want every Coloradan to have the freedom that comes with being healthy and well, and trust that we will be ready to tackle the next challenge,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, CDPHE. “Our commitment to Coloradans is to learn from the past 23 months and be prepared for the next wave and the next pandemic.”

The state plans to now switch their efforts to preventing a surge in the future. As a part of the new plan, the state wants to establish statewide hospital readiness standards so the health care system is better prepared for future surges.

The state also plans to ensure public health readiness and surge capacity and invest in healthcare workforce stabilization and expansion. Engaging in dialogue with the federal government about improving the pandemic response and readiness was also on the governor’s list.

Locally, Teller County has also seen a significant drop in new cases. During the month of February, the seven day case count numbers have been well below 100 per 100,000 people.

When the month started the seven day case count hit 48 per 100,000 people which is much lower than what the county saw during January. The daily case new case counts have also dropped below 10 per day which is about the same as the county has seen during the low parts of the last two years.

Since March 2020, the county has had a total of 4,662 cases and 55 deaths. The county has had a total of 310 people hospitalized from the disease with one person currently in the hospital.

Testing is still available at the county site in Divide on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Testing in Cripple Creek is now available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.