Coronavirus In Colorado: March 20 Updates

March 20, 2020
Andrea LuquetteAndrea Luquette Andrew Harnik / Associated Press
Laboratory scientist Andrea Luquette cultures coronavirus to prepare for testing at U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md.

This post will be updated throughout the day.

Update - 4:35 p.m.

Colorado ended the day Friday with 86 more confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, making the total 363. Those numbers include 44 hospitalizations in 24 counties. There are four confirmed deaths.

El Paso County now has 27 known cases. Pueblo reported a third case today, but data from the state still reflects two cases there. 

Update -  3:15 p.m.

Woodland Park Drive-Thru COVID-19 Specimen Collection Site Closed  

Teller County Public Health and Environment confirmed the closing of the Woodland Park drive-thru COVID-19 specimen collection site due to a lack of testing supplies and personal protective equipment today.

The site was open for one day, Wednesday of this week, before it closed, said Karen Muntzert. She is the public information officer for Teller County Public Health COVID Response.

She said she could not confirm the number of test kits present at the site when it opened. She said 28 people visited the site on Wednesday. Ten people were tested.

Muntzert said she received a statement from UCHealth which said as supplies improve, they will communicate a timeline for re-opening the site.

UCHealth Suspends Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Site in Colorado Springs

The UCHealth COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at South Parkside Drive and KidsKare Point in Colorado Springs has been suspended. 

"At this time, we need to preserve our personal protective equipment and our tests for hospitalized patients and for health care workers who will need to return to the front lines and take care of our most vulnerable citizens," said Cary Vogrin, a media relations specialist for UCHealth, in a statement earlier today.

In a statement, Vogrin said she understands the community's concern about access to COVID-19 testing. UCHealth recommends staying home, practicing social distancing and following directives from state and local public health departments.

If the supply situation improves and community testing restarts, UCHealth will update the community, said Vogrin in a statement.

Polis Confirms Third And Fourth Deaths As A Result Of COVID-19; Testing Site Coming To Salida

Gov. Jared Polis held another public address this morning and confirmed the state's third and fourth deaths as a result of COVID-19, though it's not yet reflected in the state data. Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is updated daily, around 4 p.m.

One of the deaths was reported yesterday by El Paso County health officials; the other, as reported by Polis this morning, is someone in Crowley County.

CDHPE is continuing to send testing resources to other parts of the state, including in Salida at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds. It's scheduled to open tomorrow (Saturday), and residents who are symptomatic and have a doctor's referral can go to the test. Referrals should come through phone conversations and people should not show up at doctor's offices.

CDPHE is encouraging people who may be symptomatic to self-isolate and not wait for a test for confirmation. The agency says only the first 100 people who arrive at the testing site will have access and others will be encouraged to seek testing from a private provider.

Other testing locations will come next week.

The announcement comes as Chaffee County Public Health reports its first two known positive cases of COVID-19.

The department says it's working on identifying who the two adults may have had close contact with.

Six cases of COVID-19 identified at Colorado Springs senior living center

El Paso County Public Health has identified six cases of COVID-19 in Laurel Manor Care Center in El Paso County. The senior living center is near the intersection of Airport Rd. and S. Academy Blvd.

“As a public health agency, we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health Director. “Our team became aware of these additional cases late this afternoon and took immediate action to coordinate efforts with Laurel Manor Care Center and state partners to assess the situation and respond appropriately.”

The county says proactive efforts are focused on identifying, isolating and testing all of those who may be at risk because of these new cases.

“Continued practice of social distancing and good respiratory hygiene is essential. With these efforts we can all help protect the people in our community who are most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19,” said Dr. Robin Johnson, El Paso County Public Health Medical Director.

These cases are included the total count of 15 for El Paso County as released March 19.

Pueblo ask residents no to flush disinfecting wipes, “flushable” wipes, napkins or paper towels down toilet

The Pueblo Wastewater Treatment Plant is asking residents to keep in mind that flushing anything other than toilet paper can create clogs, backups, equipment and pipe breakages, and even force raw sewage back into peoples’ homes.

“Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are aware of the increased use of “flushable” wipes and flushing of non-flushable materials such as baby wipes, disinfecting wipes, napkins and paper towels,” officials said in a press release. “...the wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper, and therefore clog systems very quickly.”

The following products are NOT flushable. It is recommended these products be disposed in a waste basket:

  • Paper towels
  • Napkins
  • Kleenex and other tissues
  • Wet wipes/baby wipes (even those labeled as “flushable” wipes)
  • Diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Gauze/Band-Aids

Anyone with questions or concerns can reach the Pueblo Water Reclamation Facility at 719-553-2880 or 719-553-2898.

Positive cases increaese to 277, second death reported in El Paso County

The number of known positive cases of COVID-19 in Colorado grew to 277, an increase of 61. That's according to the latest official data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released Thursday, March 19.

El Paso County health officials announced that a second person in El Paso County died from the new coronavirus. The public health department identified the death as a man in his 60s who reportedly had contact with the county's first fatality

His passing marks the state's third death.

Meanwhile, UCHealth unveiled three new medical tents aimed at screening patients who may have COVID-19 symptoms. One is already operational, with two at the ready as needed.