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Old 11-01-2020, 04:33 PM
6,665 posts, read 9,616,951 times
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Originally Posted by hollyt00 View Post
They are right. However, if you look at the El Paso County data website (wow, we are doing a great job with that!), https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/c...data-dashboard and navigate to the 8th page, you'd see that K-12 schools have the highest percentage of outbreaks in our county.
I think the question is, how many of those cases were actually caused by exposure to someone while on campus? I know in D11, so far, there have been zero cases of spreading the virus amongst students or teachers due to exposure at school. The schools have quite a few precautions in place that most of the rest of the world does not take. There might be one case of someone getting it from someone else at the administration building - not sure on the details of that one. I think that is what they mean by schools are not turning out to be super-spreaders - there are very few examples of the spread happening at school - in almost every case, it is happening due to interactions elsewhere.

As an educator, I was very nervous about students coming back to campus. Now that they are here, though, and seeing the very low or almost non-existent rate of spread on campus so far, I would lean toward the schools staying open. It has been so much better for students' learning and mental health both.

I do think CHSAA should've stuck to their original plan about having football in the spring, though - however, they buckled under pressure from scholarship-eager parents (my personal interpretation, there) and the season has been pretty disastrous in my take of it - my friend who works games downtown said most of them have ended up canceled, anyway.

Things are not looking good, though, overall, and at some point schools can't function because of too many sick educators and not enough subs - that's happened several times all ready in schools here and there.
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:14 PM
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Toilet paper hoarding has recommenced.
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Old 11-02-2020, 10:55 PM
24,733 posts, read 45,856,107 times
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Originally Posted by Brill View Post
Toilet paper hoarding has recommenced.
As stockages of T-P recovered mid-year we built up a year's supply for my wife and I. This year I won't be getting up at 5AM to be in line at 5:45 AM to enter my Safeway single file at 6AM and walk out with a 4-pack of no-name bath tissue.

Black beans and rice are now on my buy list as I hunker down for the winter of my discontent.
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Old 11-03-2020, 05:05 AM
Location: Concord, CA
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El Paso County coronavirus cases rise, approach stay-at-home threshold


"The number of coronavirus cases in El Paso County has been rising rapidly in recent days as the community prepares for new state restrictions taking effect Wednesday.

The state's safer-at-home level 2 rules, which take start in the county Wednesday, will further limit how many people are allowed to gather in restaurants, gyms and other indoor settings.

El Paso County Public Health records show the average number of cases is well above the threshold to qualify for the even more restrictive safer-at-home level 3, which would further limit the numbers of people allowed to gather. For example, under level 2, restaurants are allowed to have 50% capacity and up to 100 people inside while under level 3 restrictions, they must only allow 25% capacity or up to 50 people, according to the state rules.

However, health officials say a gradual tightening is appropriate.

"The move to level 2 is intended to give El Paso County time to implement and adjust to level 2 metrics, and to assess whether the mitigation efforts are impacting the numbers. The state noted that a gradual implementation of restrictions was suitable at this time," El Paso County Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Hewitt said.

Hewitt said that level 2 restricts are being put in place "to preserve in-person learning and to keep businesses open" and to "slow the spread" of the sometimes deadly virus.

The county has reported 2,417 new cases over 14 days and on average about 335 new cases per 100,000 residents over the same time period, El Paso County Public Health numbers show. The average number of cases per 100,000 is about 15 cases fewer than the state's threshold for issuing a countywide stay-at-home order, according to the guidelines.

The number of people testing positive, on average, has risen to 8%. When that measure grows to more than 15%, state guidelines show a stay-at-home order is appropriate.

Additionally, hospitals regionally are caring for more COVID-19 patients. On Friday, 91 patients were receiving care for a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, data show. Of those, 12 had not been confirmed as COVID-19. A week prior, 56 patients were receiving care for a confirmed or suspected care of COVID-19 and of those, 10 had not been confirmed, the data show.

At UCHealth's southern Colorado hospitals, the staff was caring for about 40 COVID-19 patients on Friday, hospital spokeswoman Cary Vogrin said. The health system's peak day came in April when it had 57 COVID-19 patients in southern hospitals, she said.

Centura Health hospitals are also seeing an increase in patients needing more acute care for many different reasons, the health system said in a statement.

"One of the unintended consequences of COVID-19 was that patients delayed getting necessary care," Centura Health said in a statement.

As the new level 2 state rules take effect Wednesday, residents may notice the following changes:

Restaurants will be permitted to have up to 100 people with social distancing, down from 175 permitted under level 1.

Gyms will operate only at 25% capacity, or up to 50 people, compared with 75 people as permitted in level 1.
Group sports can allow 25 people per activity, down from 50 people.

Gov. Jared Polis and state health department director Jill Ryan met with Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, Monday in Colorado, according to a news release from the governor's office.

“Dr. Birx said that we must urgently stop socializing and visiting with people in other households in Colorado for the next few weeks," Polis said in a statement.

Coloradans must "do a better job avoiding socializing and mixing between households while our state continues to rapidly ramp up testing, especially among younger Coloradans in their 20s and 30s who are less likely to have symptoms," Polis said, citing Birx.

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Old 11-03-2020, 07:39 AM
6,665 posts, read 9,616,951 times
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Originally Posted by Brill View Post
Toilet paper hoarding has recommenced.
I'm thinking it might be election-day panic as much as COVID-19 this time....
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Old 11-03-2020, 10:17 PM
753 posts, read 1,026,731 times
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Yes, I admit I stocked up on some extra food and cat litter a few days ago just as a precaution in the event of civil disorder disrupting supply chains and delivery again. Already had extra TP on hand because I'd forgotten I already had a spare package in the closet the last time I was running low in the bathroom and bought another one.
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Old 11-07-2020, 05:37 AM
Location: Concord, CA
6,880 posts, read 8,175,048 times
Reputation: 24291
City Auditorium to remain COVID-19 shelter


"Colorado Springs City Auditorium will continue to serve as an isolation shelter for homeless individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. City Auditorium has functioned as a community isolation shelter since April 1.

“People without homes are among those facing the most severe consequences of COVID-19,” says Jennifer Mariano, Community Health Partnership director of programs. “For older adults and those with pre-existing health conditions experiencing homelessness, there is increased risk of severe complications or death. Living in shelters or on the streets makes it almost impossible to have access to clean masks, observe social distancing and practice frequent hand-washing.”

Mariano says the shelter will help “mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread among our homeless neighbors,” as well as reduce the risk of spread beyond the homeless population."
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Old 11-07-2020, 05:44 AM
Location: Concord, CA
6,880 posts, read 8,175,048 times
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El Paso County's ZIP code data provides intriguing window on coronavirus spread


"If “ZIP code” is the home Jeopardy! game answer, what’s the question?

You are correct if you said, “What is the most popular item on El Paso County’s COVID-19 dashboard?”

Where coronavirus cases are happening around the county appear to be what people want to know more than anything, said Stephen Goodwin, chief data scientific strategist for El Paso County Public Health.

“It was the most requested feature of our dashboard,” he said.

The county health department added ZIP code data six months ago to its online statistical analysis of local pandemic activity.

The information is updated daily, which “makes it more fun” for people to study, Goodwin said.

“It engages people to ponder and look around,” he said. “People like to interact with maps, and ZIP code is a very convenient mechanism to get a geo-location.”

The dashboard is available at

Out of 683,317 El Paso County residents, 173,879 tests have been administered and 13,245 positive cases have been recorded, according to Friday's dashboard.

The hottest location is 80906, where 1,221 COVID-19 cases were tallied as of Friday. The area stretches south and west of the city, from The Broadmoor neighborhood to Stratmoor and into Security-Widefield.

But more COVID tests have been conducted in 80909 — 12,697. In 80906, 11,349 tests have been administered.

Officials don't verify that the addresses provided by those being tested are accurate, and those who are homeless may use an address such as shelter or soup kitchen, county analysts said.

County health has used the postal code compilations to add more “low-barrier” — no-cost and easy access — COVID testing sites, said Fadi Youkhana, applied epidemiologist for the department.

A testing center opened at The Citadel shopping center in recent months, and last week three new satellite testing sites launched in Fountain, Monument and the Falcon/Peyton areas.

Along with virus infections by ZIP code, data geeks and trend watchers can view the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, deaths, recoveries, outbreaks, testing information and breakdowns by age, race and ethnicity. Interactive graphs and charts illustrate the statistics.

ZIP code data is presented over recent time periods, for the past seven, 10 and 14 days.

That’s useful, Youkhana said, for people to understand which areas of town have larger amounts of infection in real time.

Socio-economic information is not collected on intake forms. But as has been true of statewide and national COVID cases, lower-income neighborhoods in El Paso County have higher rates of infection.

“We do see higher numbers there, hence the low-barrier testing,” Youkhana said. “It’s not a unique discovery; it’s been consistent nationally in communities with lower economic status.”

Two of the top five ZIP codes with the most cases, 80910 and 80916, are in southeast Colorado Springs, which has lower household incomes than other areas of the city, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The five highest concentrations of cases are in 80916, 80910, 80906, 80909 and 80918.

Those match the most densely populated areas of the county, with the exception of 80920, which has the third-highest amount of residents, but the seventh most cases.

Also, 80910 is the ninth most populated postal code, but it has the second most cases.

Among the limitations of ZIP code tracking are congregant living facilities, such as assisted living centers, Youkhana said, where multiple cases can have one address listed.

“It’s not meant to be the primary tool; it’s just one of the tools,” he said.

COVID-19 deaths by ZIP code are not provided."
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Old 11-10-2020, 06:33 PM
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Colorado College Professor Phoebe Lostroh’s crystal ball is more like a microscope.

In projecting eerily accurate coronavirus trends in El Paso County, Lostroh has relied on her Ph.D. in microbiology from Harvard University, experience in teaching about infectious diseases and textbook writing to come up with a basic formula.

“I just do the most simplistic thing possible,” she said.

But her weekly predictions, which are published online for the Colorado College COVID-19 Reporting Project, a student-led journalism initiative, typically have fallen within 10% of actual statistics.

She starts with two assumptions: that most of the population is still susceptible to contracting the virus and that the disease is highly contagious and spreading exponentially.

She examines countywide cases over the past 21 days and applies an exponential drive to calculate the best, medium and worst-case scenarios over the next four weeks.

The methodology has provided insight about how the pandemic will behave locally, primarily for planning purposes.

After all, “The state forecast is only so useful when you’re trying to decide whether to go to the grocery store today,” Lostroh said.

In this 35th week since COVID-19 was first detected in El Paso County, infections have surpassed the county’s highest levels in the spring and are topping Lostroh’s “worst case” estimates.

Lostroh predicted between 12,048 and 12,229 cumulative COVID-19 cases in El Paso County as of Nov. 5. There were 13,374, according to county public health data.

Lostroh has taught molecular biology at Colorado College since 2003 and is on a two-year academic leave, working as the program director in genetic mechanisms, molecular and cellular biosciences at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Because of the pandemic, she’s doing the science foundation job from her home in Colorado Springs.

Lostroh is passionate about studying local COVID-19 trends because she feels like she narrowly missed a potentially deadly fate. Lostroh belongs to the bridge club that had an outbreak after a tournament in mid-March, which resulted in 24 infections and four deaths.

She was in Washington, D.C. that day, at the National Science Foundation.

“They were all my friends who died,” she said.

Many people starting asking questions to Lostroh, who specializes in epidemics and virology.

She began answering questions through a website for the PILLAR Institute for Lifelong Learning in Colorado Springs, a nonprofit that provides adult education.

Lostroh also became part of a long-range planning committee for El Paso County Public Health.

“In March, I was working on COVID all day long, from 5 a.m. until I couldn’t stay awake anymore,” she said.

Colorado College sophomores and juniors will have to live off campus in spring
From those early days until now, Lostroh thinks people are being exposed to more danger than they should be.

Cases statewide are at the highest levels of prevalence that they've ever been, Gov. Jared Polis said at a press conference Monday.

Across Colorado, 11 counties, including El Paso, have surpassed the number of infections under the state’s COVID-19 Dial Framework that sets responses to trigger a “stay-at-home” order, indicating “serious outbreaks,” Lostroh said.

The 14-day incidence for 11 of the 12-most populous counties in Colorado, where more than 87% of Coloradoans live, has ranged from 360 to 916 for the past four days, she said Tuesday. Technically, the cut-off for stay-at-home incidence is 350.

El Paso County last week entered stricter protocols, reducing capacity at restaurants, churches and other establishments, and limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people from two households.

Lostroh fears that’s not enough.

“Incidents are so high and exponential spread is so fast that the professionals know we’re making decisions too slowly for the pace of the epidemic,” Lostroh said. “The epidemic is changing so fast that waiting two weeks is not a good choice.”

No stay-at-home orders have been instituted in any counties, as was done statewide in March and lasted into April. Some, such as Denver and Pueblo counties, recently set curfews and reduced bar hours.

Lostroh criticizes President Donald Trump for not setting national mandates regarding mask wearing, social interaction, and closure of schools and businesses, and now she said she doesn’t understand why Colorado's governor has not followed the state’s rules in making counties with high numbers of infections shut down again.

“Colorado came up with how it has to happen at various levels, and they’re not following the plan,” she said. “The pain and suffering of our economic losses that would come would be shorter.”

Polis said Monday that conditions are different now than they were in March and April, in terms of the state’s ability to handle and treat the virus.

Also, Polis said counties are at different stages of the virus; Mesa County, for example, is experiencing its first wave of infections, while Denver County is in the midst of a third wave.

But an "entire city or region" might have to "shut down if hospitals are overloaded," Polis said.

If nothing changes, Lostroh predicts El Paso County will see between 16,017 and 16,908 cumulative reported cases by Friday.

The county had 573 cases during the worst week of the local peak in the summer and should prepare for four to six times more cases than that this week, Lostroh said.

She also predicts between 122 and 163 new COVID-19 hospitalizations in El Paso County next week.

If there’s one thing Lostroh has learned, it’s the truth behind the old adage that some things never change.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, Lostroh dedicated her teaching in commemoration of the estimated 50 million people who died worldwide during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, the deadliest outbreak of last century.

Students scoured the school’s archives and found letters about staff members who were infected and died.

Among the correspondence were letters from people who said they thought it was in violation of their personal freedoms to wear a mask.

“And this was in 1918,” Lostroh said.
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Old 11-11-2020, 05:37 AM
Location: Concord, CA
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Most Colorado counties, including El Paso, qualify for tougher COVID-19 restrictions; state officials provide few details


"Why isn't El Paso County under a stay-at-home order?

The state and county health departments on Tuesday didn't answer that question as the county remains in the middle of the state's COVID conditions dial even though it passed the benchmark for a more restrictive stage weeks ago and reached the standard for a countywide stay-at-home order more than a week ago.

As of Tuesday, El Paso County's incidence rate was more than double the measure to qualify for such an order.

Of the 64 counties in Colorado, only seven belong in the stage of restrictions they're in or a less restrictive category, according to state data updated Monday. The rest had a two-week cumulative incidence that should put them in a more restrictive category by one or more levels.

The additional time the state health department is granting counties to rein in their rising numbers of COVID-19 cases without imposing more stringent rules on gatherings has raised concerns from health officials in the Denver metro area and the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials.

"We are concerned that with the steep acceleration of cases and hospitalization, these delays will reduce the value of the additional restrictions ... essentially rendering them 'too little, too late,'" they wrote in a Nov. 5 letter to state officials involved in the pandemic response.

The delays could also increase the likelihood the state will have to impose stay-at-home orders and could increase the time residents would have to spend under those orders, the letter states.

If the state required counties to abide by the metrics in its rules, it would ensure consistency, transparency, clarity and equity, the letter continued.

State officials in September debuted the virus “dial dashboard," available on its website, that tracks the progress of counties in controlling the sometimes deadly disease by colored levels, similar to fire-danger signs.

Attached to each level are corresponding restrictions and guidelines on gatherings or events, educational institutions, restaurants and other businesses. The least restrictive level for counties with the best control was dubbed "Protect Our Neighbors" and coded green. A middle set of levels, dubbed "Safer at Home," includes three sub levels, coded blue, yellow and orange, with qualifying incidence levels of 0 through 350 cases per 100,000 residents per two-week period. The fifth and most restrictive level, dubbed ""Stay at Home" and coded red, is reserved for communities with more than 350 cases.

The dial was established to give counties time to adjust their strategy and determine if the limits on gatherings and other public health measures are making a difference, said Theresa Anselmo, executive director of the public health officials association, a group that represents all 53 county-level public health agencies in the state.

But many counties are seeing exponential growth of COVID-19 cases and are moving rapidly through the level of the dial in a few days, she said.

“As counties are transitioning rapidly along the levels of the dial, there become fewer and fewer actions we can take to change course,” Anselmo said.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said in a Tuesday statement that El Paso County is in an "evaluation period" with the state that typically lasts two weeks after new measures are taken. Given that the county had been at Safer at Home Level 2 — in the middle of the state's dial framework — for less than a week, "it would follow that we wouldn't expect to see changes to our numbers until next Wednesday," he said.

El Paso County was moved by the state to Level 2 on Nov. 4. On that day the county had already qualified for the more-restrictive Safer at Home Level 3 for nearly three weeks, and had met the benchmark disease incidence rate for a stay-at-home order for two days. The county passed the level to qualify for a stay at home order on Nov. 2.

Michelle Hewitt, a spokeswoman for the county health department, on Tuesday said the agency was talking with the state health department and that decisions on movement from one category to another are complex. She declined to offer specifics such as when the county might move to a more restrictive level, whether it would move straight to a stay-at-home order, and what the discussions with the state have entailed, as did the state.

"Rather than speculate on what may happen, we are urging our community to focus on what they can do right now to turn our numbers around," Hewitt said in a statement.

If a county passes criteria for its dial level and remains out of compliance for two weeks or more, it must confer with the state health department, at which point a "consultation ... must take place to determine next steps," according to a Nov. 5 email from the state's Joint Information Center to The Gazette. The state and county have not provided detail on what that process might look like.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the county and most of the state climbs exponentially, some experts are calling on health officials to make virus-related communication more clear.

Colorado College microbiology Professor Phoebe Lostroh said she is particularly concerned the state has not called for more definitive action, such as another stay at home order.

The state’s decision to set El Paso County’s restrictions at Safer at Home Level 2 does not clearly convey the risk of disease transmission when the number of people who have tested positive for the illness in El Paso County has far exceeded the state's threshold for a stay-at-home order, she said.

“It is a mixed message to tell people to stop gathering with people we love in our homes, but it's OK to go to a bar,” Lostroh said. Bars are technically closed in the state, but many serve food and have been allowed to stay open as restaurants.

Anselmo said her association would like to see more effective communication from the state and local public health officials about steps that will be taken to slow the disease. When counties take steps on their own, such as localized stay-at-home orders, they are not as effective because residents of neighboring counties travel across county lines, she said.

Suthers said the state and El Paso County are "doing all they can to effectively bring down our cases without having to resort to restrictions that would damage the economy."

"But ... we may get to the point where our hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed, and that would leave few options other [than] much stricter regulations," he said.

He also acknowledged that resources aren't available to enforce public health orders.

"The fact is, we don’t have the resources to send police officers out to monitor the size of personal gatherings, stop people in stores who take off their masks, or to pull cars over and ask the occupants if they are going to an essential business," he said. "It would be impossible.

"As far as motivating people, if it’s not enough to save the life of someone you love, if it’s not enough to help us re-open our economy and get back to the life we love, I don’t think the prospect of a citation is going to move the needle. We need a true community effort here."

And the county "may not be able to complete contact tracing for all positive COVID-19 cases" because of the "high volume" of cases, the county health department announced on its website. El Paso county employs 18 case investigators staffed via the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, supplemented by about 40 volunteer case investigators from the Medical Reserve Corps, a spokesperson from the county health department said Tuesday in a statement from the mayor's office.

But contract tracing "only works when individuals greatly limit the number of people they are around before they know they have COVID-19 and are willing to isolate and quarantine when they develop symptoms or are exposed to someone with COVID-19," Leon Kelly, the county's deputy medical director, said in a statement through the mayor's office. "The increased infections we are currently seeing are not due to a failure of contact tracing, but rather the failure of individuals to take the necessary actions to prevent spread in the first place."

Anselmo noted interventions such contact tracing cannot be effective when the disease is spreading so fast.

“There’s a point of no return where we will start to see excess deaths,” she said."
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