Stay-at-home order extended County deputy is among latest COVID-19 victims
Last updated 4/8/2020 at 1:48pm
This week Gov. Jared Polis addressed Coloradans directly and announced an extension to the stay-at-home Executive Order, which now will remain in effect until April 26.
"We are beginning to see the impact of the actions we have taken so far, but I can't stress enough the importance of staying home during these next few weeks," Polis said. "We have to keep this up for a little while longer in order to return to a level of normalcy in our economy and our society. Right now we need to dig deep into our souls to muster the resolve, the courage, the fortitude to carry on and do our patriotic duty as generations have done before."
Social distancing measures implemented in recent weeks are making an impact, officials said. The state has seen a 60-percent reduction in traffic on Colorado roads since the beginning of March. Effects of the stay-at-home order are noticeable, too. When this virus began, the number of cases was doubling every 1.5 days; now it's doubling every six days, meaning the spread of the virus is beginning to slow.
However, statewide totals for the coronavirus have surpassed 5,000, with 944 hospitalized, 54 counties affected, 150 deaths, 41 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities, and around 27,000 people tested.
In El Paso County, there were 441 cases reported through Monday, and 28 deaths.
Last Friday, Polis encouraged Coloradans to begin wearing non-medical face masks in public places to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Officials say a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms and that people can even transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity-for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing-even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.
Although staying at home is still the best way to prevent the spread, when someone needs to leave the house for necessities or if they work in a critical, non-medical field, wearing a bandana or non-medical cloth mask on their face can help prevent the spread to others if they have the virus. Maintaining at least six-feet between individuals remains the best method for prevention, though.
It is acceptable to forego wearing a mask while walking on a trail or riding a bike if one can maintain physical distance from others.
To be effective, the mask should:
• Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face
• Be secured with ties or ear loops and include multiple layers of woven fabric
• Allow for unrestricted breathing
• Be made at home from common materials such as an old T-shirt, scarf, bandana or hand towel.
The recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance
When using a mask:
• Wash your hands before putting on a face mask
• Do not touch eyes, nose, and mouth while wearing the mask
• When done, carefully remove mask to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
• Wash hands immediately after removing
• Routinely wash in a washing machine, depending on the frequency of use
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2; anyone who has trouble breathing; unconscious or incapacitated person or someone who is otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.
Fort Carson and military
Fort Carson has reported the loss of a community member on Saturday due to complications from COVID-19. The civilian employee and military retiree succumbed to the illness at a Colorado Springs hospital after battling the virus for approximately two weeks. The individual had been quarantined since March 19 and tested positive for COVID-19 on March 28.
The army installation continues to amend procedures to keep up with the situation, including new mandates for face masks.
"Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member's or Service family member's personal residence on a military installation)," according to a new Department of Defense directive.
For more information on Fort Carson's efforts to protect the community and prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit http://www.carson.army.mil.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, a few hundred members of the 627th Hospital Center from Fort Carson have been busy in Seattle setting up a temporary hospital inside the CenturyLink Field Event Center.
The field hospital includes an emergency room area, x-ray capabilities, a patient administration division, a lab, microbiology, blood banking, an isolation unit, operating room suites, sterilization, as well as minimal, intermediate and intensive care units, according to an Evans Army Community Hospital release. The unit is providing 148 beds, including 48 for intensive care.
Their mission is to provide supplemental routine and emergency medical support to local community medical staffs, allowing them to focus on detecting and treating patients believed to have been exposed to COVID-19.
El Paso County
Closer to home, El Paso County Sheriff's Office has confirmed a longtime deputy died from the coronavirus. EPCSO released the following statement:
"It is with profound sadness we announce Deputy Jeff Hopkins, while off duty, passed away on April 1 from the COVID-19 virus. Deputy Hopkins was 41 years old and leaves behind his wife, Wendy. Deputy Hopkins has been employed with the Sheriff's Office since 2001."
El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) issued its own local Public Health Order to comply with the state's orders regarding staying home and physical distancing. EPCPH's order serves as a reinforcement of the CDPHE orders at a local level, in an effort to reiterate the importance of the executive orders announced by the state last month.
"With this unprecedented, fast-paced, evolving situation at the federal and state levels, El Paso County Public Health is doing its best to be proactive as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak locally," said El Paso County Public Health Director Susan Wheelan. "This local Public Health Order mainly streamlines the Public Health Orders issued by the state and reinforces the importance for El Paso County residents to comply with Public Health directions to stay at home unless for essential outings. I appreciate everyone's help in protecting the safety, health and well-being of themselves, their families and the community."
In terms of enforcement, El Paso County continues to focus on education, outreach and voluntary cooperation as the preferred approaches to gaining compliance to the stay-at-home order, but a protocol has been put in place for the issuance of a criminal summons in cases where voluntary compliance cannot be obtained.
Public Health continues to receive a high number of calls on the enforcement of the orders regarding both business and individual activities.
Residents who believe they have something to report regarding non-compliance should not call 9-1-1 or local law enforcement with those complaints. Public Health is responding to egregious and ongoing individual complaints, and will attempt to resolve each situation accordingly; however, any issue not resolved may be forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency for a possible response.
If the public wishes to report a business operating illegally, they should contact El Paso County Public Health at 719-578-3167. Continued violations by businesses can result in citations and possible fines and/or jail time, but El Paso County Public Health fully expects voluntary compliance by all businesses. Residents may also file a report with the Attorney General's Office at [email protected]
"Most members of the public are taking the state's stay-at-home order seriously, but we need every single resident to follow this very important order," Wheelan said.
El Paso and Teller County residents can connect with information and resources for COVID-19 by calling (719) 575-8888. The call center is now open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
A FEMA-sponsored COVID-19 testing site in Colorado Springs that is currently providing testing for health care workers and first responders is now expanding to provide testing for individuals over 65 years who have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath).
The site will be open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.
The site is located at 175 S. Union Blvd. in the back parking lot.
How you can help
Volunteers are needed to help provide critical services to the community, especially those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. Pikes Peak United Way can connect residents with many non-profit organizations who need volunteers to provide critical services while observing physical distancing guidance. Residents are encouraged to volunteer at https://pikespeakuw.galaxydigital.com/
Mask donations accepted
City and county public safety professionals are looking for fabric masks to comply with the Governor's recent recommendation that people wear fabric face coverings when out in public. Because first responders are out serving the public every day, there is a need for thousands of masks for our public servants. Anyone who has the skill set and the desire to help our community, is encouraged to help make and donate cloth masks.
The Colorado Mask Project offers guidance and mask patterns.
Cloth mask donations will be gladly accepted:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1–4 p.m.
Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, 3755 Mark Dabling, Colorado Springs, 80907.