DENVER – Residents in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties could see their way of life upended once again if the number of coronavirus infections isn’t reduced anytime soon.
The warning from the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) came Thursday afternoon, as health officials warned the counties are at risk of moving to a more restrictive level in the state’s COVID-19 dial due to a worrisome upward trend in the number of positive cases and hospitalizations over the past two weeks.
Currently, Adams County is on a Level 2 restriction on the Safer-at-Home dial, while Arapahoe and Douglas counties are at a Level 1, according to the state’s COVID-19 website.
Over the past two weeks, however – from Sept. 24 to Oct. 7 – the state has seen a rise in cases and hospitalizations due to the novel coronavirus.
In Adams County, 1,420 new cases and 52 new hospitalizations were reported in that time period, while Arapahoe County saw 885 new cases and 39 new hospitalizations. Douglas County saw 400 new cases and eight hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Per Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) guidelines, state health officials monitor incidence rates, test positivity rates and trends in hospitalizations to determine if a county’s restrictions are eased or tightened. Those parameters also help determine if they still qualify for variances for public and private events.
Moving the counties to a more restrictive level would mean reduced capacity for businesses, houses of worship and community gatherings, as well as earlier last call times for bars and restaurants, Tri-County Health officials said in a news release.
“We all need to step up our prevention measures to reduce transmission and keep our counties open, said John M. Douglas, Jr. MD, Executive Director of TCHD. “That means, we need to limit the number of activities we participate in. “You’re more likely to get COVID-19 from someone you know and spend time with than a stranger.”
Tri-County Health officials said they were currently working with each county on individual community-based mitigation plans to help reduce the number of infections so they don’t have to move to a more restrictive level in the Safer-at-Home phase, which was enacted in late April.
An investigation into the growing number of cases and contact tracing follow-ups done by Tri-County Health revealed a large number of cases may be connected to both public and private social gatherings, Douglas said, and urged those holding gatherings to observe the TCHD’s small gathering guidance and keep at least six feet social distancing from others, wear face coverings and wash hands frequently.
Other key prevention steps include staying home when sick, getting tested if you feel you’re exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and cooperating with public health staff in the event of a positive test or exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with the new respiratory disease, he said.
“We know that many of our residents have “COVID fatigue,” but our community needs to come together to improve our transmission prevention efforts to help slow the spread and lower the numbers of COVID-19 cases so that we can continue going to work, to school and to worship, especially before we head into the holiday season.”
The TCHD also urged residents to get a flu shot as an extra precaution to stay healthy should the state experience a “twindemic" this year.