Pueblo school district closes after-school programs as county mitigates spread

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PUEBLO — As of Thursday evening, there were no positively tested cases of the novel coronavirus known as COVID—19. Still, public health leaders say they’re past prevention and focusing on mitigating the spread of the virus.

“Were trying to stop that rapid spread,” said Dr. Christopher Urbina, the medical officer for the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

That means asking residents to adhere to the good hygiene and social distancing practices as laid out by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment as well as the Centers for Disease Control.

At this time, large public events are not being canceled in the county, but schools are taking the lead within their districts.

Wednesday, Pueblo School District 60 canceled any school-sponsored out-of-state travel for staff and students. On Thursday, Pueblo County School District 70 canceled all before and after school activities, including athletics, art, and drama.

“There’s not a specific threshold that we have identified [for closing schools]. It will probably be school to school rather than district-wide, but it’s really going to depend on students who are sick, staff who are sick and parental concerns,” said Randy Evetts, the Public Health Director for PCPHE.

On the published recommendations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as well as the CDC, several senior living facilities and nursing homes are on lockdown to non-essential visitors and non-emergency travel.

“A majority of the families, even the ones the ones that visit every day, are thankful we are taking this seriously and putting measures in place to protect their loved ones,” said Ahron Katz, a managing partner of Belmont Lodge Health Care Center located on the east side of the city.

Belmont came to a decision early on Wednesday. The facility is working on setting up video chat systems so residents can still keep in touch with their loved ones.

“Our main objective is to make every resident feel cared for every day, but obviously, the most important ingredient is to put everyone in as safe of a position as possible,” said Katz.

Pueblo leaders are confident, given the help an emergency declaration by Governor Jared Polis could provide, they will be able to respond to an outbreak, should it occur.

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