As The Overall Spread Of Coronavirus In Colorado Slows, Outbreaks In Long-Term Living Facility Continue To Grow

Mapleton Care Center Coronavirus Outbreak
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Mapleton Care Center in Lakewood is one of more than a hundred nursing homes and long term care facilities in Colorado that the Dept. of Health and Environment has identified as having had a coronavirus outbreak.

Colorado health officials hope to have a good idea of when the state might see a peak in the number of cases of the novel coronavirus, but they are still urging Coloradans to practice social distancing and wear cloth masks when they leave the house.

State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said those measures have helped slow the spread of COVID-19, but there’s one number that keeps ticking upward as officials track the virus: the number of outbreaks in residential and non-hospital care facilities. 

On Monday, 41 facilities have seen outbreaks of COVID-19. It was 16 facilities on March 31, less than a week ago. 

Dr. Eric France Chief Medical Officer at Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Monday that there’s a lot of work underway to identify and trace the infections in these outbreaks.

He also said that there is a division at the health department that focuses on the licensing of hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities — and they’re watching these outbreaks closely.

“For the last number of weeks they’ve been very focused on doing on-site visits, particularly looking at infection control and making sure that these facilities are learning and where they should be when it comes to their practices,” France said. 

Herlihy had a message for the entire state on Monday. 

“If we don’t take this seriously, we will continue to see an increase in cases and a tragic loss of life,” she said. 

She said that the state hopes to see the impacts of the stay-at-home order later this week. 

Meanwhile, France said officials are keeping an eye on facilities — nursing homes, clinics, jails, prisons and anywhere that might be a high-risk site for residents.

“A lot of the work is using our surveyors to see how can we help, how can we show up as a partner and technical adviser for the nursing homes themselves so that these outbreaks don’t happen,” he said.