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Spike predicted though cases remain flat

Nurse practitioner Lisa Robbiano, left, tests Helena Guerra for COVID-19 at the MIRA testing bus in El Jebel on Thursday, April 16, 2020. Guerra had a sore throat and wanted to make sure she wouldn’t pass along the virus to her daughter.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Models from the state’s public health department indicate a possible spike in Colorado COVID-19 cases in August or September that could be worse than the first wave in March and April, two officials said Thursday.

“They’re really worried that people are not socially distancing,” said Charlie Spickert, a Pitkin County epidemiologist.

Still, the number of cases in Colorado currently is decreasing, while the number of COVID-19 cases in Pitkin County has been flat for a month, said Spickert and Dr. Kimberly Levin, Pitkin County’s medical officer and a physician at Aspen Valley Hospital.

Pitkin County has not seen a spike in virus cases since construction sites opened about a month ago, the first step in the reopening process, she said. However, one new COVID-19 case was reported Thursday from a person who lives in Pitkin County but works in Garfield County and tested positive there, Spickert said.

Pitkin County is handling the contact tracing for that person, he said.

“All in all, things are still going pretty well,” Spickert said.

Pitkin County’s rate of infection stands at 33 residents per 10,000 people, while Garfield County’s rate is 25 per 10,000, he said. Eagle County, with a larger population, has a COVID-19 infection rate of 109 people per 10,000 people.

The state’s overall COVID-19 infection rate stands at about 3%, Levin said, which “really sets us up for a spike.”

Residents need to continue to decrease pre-Covid social interactions by 65%, while those more than 60 years old and people with compromised immune systems or other risk factors for the virus need to continue to cut contacts by 80%, Spickert said.

State public health officials aren’t likely to see the affects of Memorial Day protests for another two weeks, Spickert said. Levin predicted local healthcare workers might start seeing increases in cases in the next few weeks.

“We’ll see,” she said. “We expect it.”

jauslander@aspentimes.com


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