State to check El Paso County case numbers, re-evaluate variances

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Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 8:27 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Gyms, restaurants, churches, and other El Paso County businesses granted variances by the state could revert back to tighter restrictions in two weeks after the state checks El Paso County’s case numbers.

Local leaders have spent two weeks trying to slow the spread. KKTV news partner The Gazette reports the Colorado Department of Public Health will evaluate the county’s progress Tuesday, then will decide in two weeks whether the county will be allowed to keep its variances or not. The variances allow county businesses to have higher capacities than in other parts of the state.

El Paso County remains a hot spot for the virus, with local leaders saying numbers continue to rise as of Monday.

“The main takeaway for today is really a call to action around prevention,” El Paso County Health Director Robin Johnson told Colorado Springs City Council Monday, warning that the county could lose its variances if the rising trend in cases does not change. “We are needing everyone to take part in how we help suppress COVID-19.”

According to the county’s website, there are 1,035 new positive cases in the past two weeks. There have been 146 new cases per every 100,000 El Paso County residents in the past 2 weeks. That’s nearly five times the state’s threshold for allowing large gatherings. The county’s positive rate is up, at 8 percent this week, compared to 7 percent last week. That’s higher than the state-wide 5 percent positive rate.

If the county’s variances are revoked, gyms, restaurants, and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are among the places that could be required to tighten restrictions.

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