April 15, 2020 – By Jenny Paulson – On Tuesday afternoon, Pueblo’s Pueblo Health Department released that Pueblo now has 66 confirmed positive cases of Covid-19 and that of the 552 tests administered by Pueblo County, there have been 467 negative with seven test results still pending. To date, four Pueblo County residents have passed away.
There has only been one case of Covid-19 in those 19 years and younger and 49 of the 66 positive cases are of those over 40 years old. Only one is that of a 19 year old and there are none other under that age that have tested positive to date.
Pueblo’s first major outbreak at at long-term care facility was announced on Monday. Health official reported that four staff members and six residents have tested positive for the highly contagious virus. The facility and others no longer allow visitors.
In the worst-case of a major surge of Covid-19 patients in Southern Colorado that would overwhelm Parkview Medical in Pueblo, St Mary-Corwin is planning to be soon able to hold 120 patients. That hospital has a May 8th target date to be prepared.
In Colorado, the state announced on Tuesday that 329 people have died, that hospitalizations surpassed 1,500 people, and that 7,941 people in the state have tested positive for Covid-19. Nearly 40,000 people in the state have been tested.
Health officials in Pueblo and Colorado both reported however that with the lack of available and widespread testing, the actual number of cases is likely ten times the amount reported by health departments. In Pueblo that means that over 500 people may have Covid-19.
Top state officials now say they believe that the stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Jared Polis, which have been recently extended through April 26th, have been effective in slowing Covid-19 cases in Colorado.
The governor himself said that while each death resulting from Covid-19 is important, that there could have been thousands of deaths by now verses hundreds if he didn’t make his early-on call for stay-at-home orders, social distancing and the temporary closure of many businesses to help prevent its spread during this critical time period.
While the governor advocated turning the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and Budweiser Event Center in Loveland into emergency hospitals to prepare for a potential surge in patients in case hospitals fill up if there’s exponential growth, he, like top health officials, hope that his orders will prove to be enough to have slowed the spread of Covid-19.
Health officials seem more positive this week, saying that recent stats actually show hope that the number of Covid-19 positive persons admitted into hospitals has slowed down. But they worry about a shortage of masks, face shields and ventilators if it does have another surge as more normal activity begins to open up depending on the governor’s pending decisions.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday blamed China for the virus, where it originated, saying that the US was lied to about how contagious coronavirus is so that action could have taken place earlier. He said the US government is “going into the business” of making and subsidizing protective gear because suppliers can’t produce equipment fast enough. He is figuring out how more products can be quickly produced and supplied to all states, not just places considered hot spots.
Some experts analyzing various charts, say recent stats show a plateauing or flattening trend of Covlid-19 this week in Colorado, however Gov Polis says he’s awaiting more reliable data from the health industry, including the average length of stay for further judgment. The state has not yet released recovery data, expected to be released later this week, which will need analysis, he said.
However officials on Tuesday were able to point to new data from UCHealth which showed that the recovered patients include nearly 200 people in metro Denver area, 120 in northern Colorado and 50 in the southern part of the Colorado. Still Gov Polis is saying that he wants to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, at a cost of over 70 million for the emergency hospitals alone, paid mostly by federal emergency funds.
President Trump did recently declare Colorado an emergency state, making additional funding available, a move applauded by Gov Polis who said federal funds will also allow additional assistance from the National Guard as well, to help with security issues and to man more possible drive-thru testing locations.
Officials are in discussion about how to lift the governor’s ban so that people can have a semblance of somewhat normal life in our state. But they said to lift the governor’s ban by April 26th, there would need to be mass testing for Covid-19 and tracing of those infected with the virus in place.
The stay-at-home order that Gov Polis extended until April 26th may or may not be lifted soon, depending on if health officials and ultimately he decides it’s safe to do so. He did however warn early this week that his orders could extended again. He said that he’ll be providing more details at least several days before the extension date.
Top officials say that this week is critical in determining if the level of social distancing has been effective enough to lead to a decrease in the daily case count of Covid-19 cases, to help determine the governor’s coming decision on what degree to lift his ban.
Gov Polis himself said in a press conference that he may be judged in history by his extreme measures which have greatly impacting our local and state economy, but that he acted as quickly as possible to protect the health and life of residents of Colorado, ultimately preventing thousands of deaths.
While President Trump has been blasted by journalists, in Colorado, Gov Polis seems to have high regards for his straight forward approach, and his candor with reporters and citizens. He’s led daily science-based briefings with expert testimony, where’s he’s given helpful tips and up-to-date information as quickly as it’s become available.
Rather than speaking harshly to journalists as President Trump has in frustration, Gov Polis has instead stressed the importance of journalism and social media during these hard times. He’s also been active in social media, talking directly with Coloradans, often using his own personal history and accounts to share how serious his social distancing and stay-at-home orders are to stop the spread of this contagious virus.
We have entered in here in Pueblo with more daily news ourselves, filling in the gap between official and mainstream information, often forwarded links to his press conferences and many of the governor’s messages direct to our readers here in Southern Colorado. We believe that Gov Polis has been an outstanding model of leadership, playing a key role in the survival of many, and possibly thousands of Colorado residents, who may have gotten deathly ill or died from Covid-19 this month alone.
However we have expressed a certain amount of dissatisfaction with some of the continued lack of local following of his very important rules to date, although more precautions are being seen lately at local grocery stores and other locations, where Pueblo employees and residents are adhering to and taking more seriously social distancing, mask wearing and other rules, including shopping less frequently.
Gov Polis’ March decision to order a state-wide stay-at-home order was difficult enough and his additional decisions in coming weeks are going to be even harder as he has to weigh out the impact on our economy with the protection of the health of our communities and our great state. In all respects towards our elected governor, who has come forth in a calm, efficient and effective manner, taking this virus more seriously from the start than many governors in the US – we continue to relay information from him, asking that citizens adhere to his stay-at-home rules, socially distancing from one another and taking all possible practical precautions so that we can together stop the spread of Covid-19 and return to as normal of life as possible sooner rather than later.
Here’s what our governor and officials continue to advise:
– If you have symptoms of Covid-19 call your doctor and stay at home, away from others. The great majority recover without medial treatment.
– Stay at home as much as you can and take precautions to protect yourself and others while out.
– Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
– Wear face masks and stay a distance of at least six feet from others while outside of your home.
– Help your children create masks for themselves and submit them to the state’s website.
– State and federal protection orders have been made to prevent the shut off of water and utilities but try to stay on top of your bills so they don’t accumulate.
– Unemployment is at a record high due to the impact of Covid-19. If you are unemployed you can call 1-888-550-2800 for information.
– There are relief programs for businesses, available through Small Business Development Centers.
– The IRS is sending out stimulus checks through direct deposit already. More information is available at this link – https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments.
– Local and state governments are preparing for large budget shortfalls which may have a huge impact.
-There are many resources for free food for school aged children and families.
– Using restaurants for takeout and delivery is considered safe, just limit contact with each other and wipe down products.
– Eat nutritiously as possible and find creative ways to be active, such as using home exercise equipment, streaming workout videos, and going outside for walks, jogs or biking.
– Outdoor exercise is encouraged, but keep it local and stay a distance from others while out.
– Don’t travel to neighboring communities or into the mountains on trips for now.
– While some parks and government properties remain open and others have limited service but again its best to stay in your local area. Check with agencies to confirm legal use right now.
– Again, stay at home as much as possible, wash your hands frequently, stay at least six feet from others and wear masks while out.
Compiled by Jenny Paulson / Independent Journalist