Growth In Coronavirus Positivity Rates In El Paso County Could Mean More Restrictions

October 23, 2020
r mr mDavid Zalubowski/AP
The view of downtown from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum Friday, July 24, 2020, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Community leaders in El Paso County say the region has a week to address rising COVID-19 positive test rates before the state could impose more restrictions.

According to the county health department, the 14-day average positivity rate is 5.34 percent. The generally accepted benchmark for positivity rates is less than 5 percent.

"Our most recent numbers are very concerning," said Dr. Robin Johnson, medical director with El Paso County Public Health. "Throughout October, our cases have trended upward in a much sharper direction with numbers that are reflecting a serious burden of disease and potential consequences."

Johnson said there's no one sector that's responsible, rather that the virus is widespread and residents have increased their interactions. 

"Success and prevention only come through the cumulative effect of individual choices," she said.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said he's reluctant to initiate an outdoor mask order and that he's been generally satisfied with the state's actions thus far.

"I realize that many of our residents are experiencing COVID fatigue," Suthers said. "But COVID, ladies and gentlemen, is still very much with us. We must strengthen our resolve to do everything we can now so we can avoid more drastic steps."

Health officials continue to encourage personal responsibility measures that include wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping social distance. The county is expected to come up with a mitigation plan by Friday, Oct. 30, for approval from the state health department.

The news comes as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued an order limiting personal gatherings to 10 people from no more than two households for all counties at all Safer At Home levels.