Changes to variances in El Paso County following increase in positive coronavirus cases

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Several changes to variances granted by the state to El Paso County during the coronavirus pandemic will go into effect on Monday, August 3.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers joined Dr. Robin Johnson, Director of El Paso County Public Health, and other local leaders, to provide an update to the community, after a recent increase in positive cases. Weeks ago, variances were granted after weeks of downward trend were recoded, in an effort to reopen the local economy.

A release sent out Friday noted:

The variances, which were approved at a low threshold of disease burden, included the need for a mitigation plan should case numbers pass certain thresholds. Throughout the entire process, Public Health and community partners have used the data to guide informed decision making.

El Paso County Public Health

The release also mentioned “a steady increase in cases,” in light of which, the county will soon begin implementing the following measures:

  • Public health, city, county and business officials have agreed to temporarily reduce their indoor capacity to 100 people, except for houses of worship. Prior, they were allowed to have up to 175 people.
  • Officials have agreed to collaborate to explore options for a free drive-through community-based testing site. 
  • County, City, and business officials have made a commitment to advocate for increased teleworking. 

The measures listed above will go into effect on August 3, and remain in place for for two weeks. The health department will reassess case data at that point, to determine how to best move forward.

On Friday, Mayor Suthers noted the rise in positive case data in the county should serve as “a wake-up call.” “

As you know, our numbers are up,” he said. “No one wants to move backwards.”

Suthers said the new mitigation plan includes “smaller steps” that should help stop the spread of the virus, without shutting businesses down.

“This is another call to action for our community to step up its preventative measures,” Dr. Johnson agreed. She emphasized the importance of continued social distancing, frequent handwashing, and mask-wearing.

“Colorado’s success in crushing this virus, saving lives and preventing more economic damage is connected to people doing the right thing, and to a strong response from the state, local governments, and public health departments,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, CDPHE’s executive director, in a statement on Friday.

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