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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

El Paso County Warns Of Tougher Restrictions Amid Rising Virus Cases


Health officials in Colorado have warned that tougher restrictions on restaurants, gyms and other businesses could be coming to El Paso County, citing an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations.

El Paso County Public Health has said residents must wear masks and take other preventive measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to maintain the state variances allowing greater activity and operations, The Gazette reported.

"Even though it's difficult to accept for some of us, it doesn't make it any less real," Deputy Medical Director Leon Kelly said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

As of Tuesday, El Paso County has had 115 new confirmed cases for every 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, up from about 25 confirmed cases for every 100,000 residents over two weeks in mid-June, according to Public Health data.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

About 7% of patients who have been tested for COVID-19 test positive, but the state would like the county to stay below 5% to maintain its variances, Kelly said.

El Paso County was granted multiple variances including reopening the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and other venues such as restaurants, gyms, houses of worship and malls at a higher capacity than allowed under the state health emergency declaration, Kelly said, adding that the state could revoke those variances if the coronavirus continues to spread in the region.

"What we see happening is indisputable ... It does no good to pretend this is not happening," Kelly said.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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