Jeffco COVID-19 case numbers look better ahead of Labor Day

Jeffco Public Health optimistic but warns of potential spikes

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 8/19/20

Jefferson County’s new COVID-19 case numbers are again under the threshold for the county to keep its variance from the state’s safer-at-home order. On Tuesday, Aug. 11, Jefferson County Public …

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Jeffco COVID-19 case numbers look better ahead of Labor Day

Jeffco Public Health optimistic but warns of potential spikes

Posted

Jefferson County’s new COVID-19 case numbers are again under the threshold for the county to keep its variance from the state’s safer-at-home order.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, Jefferson County Public Health Executive Director Mark B. Johnson told the Jeffco commissioners that there had been 524 new COVID-19 cases in Jeffco over the preceding two weeks.

That marked the first time since July 24 that the county had measured less than 580 cases in a two-week period, the threshold for maintaining the variance that provides the county with greater leeway when it comes to the number of people that can be together inside certain businesses and public gatherings.

Johnson told the commissioners that the decrease in new cases comes at a time when Jeffco is seeing a decrease in its positive test result rate, as well as increased mask usage following the passage of state and county orders mandating face masks be worn in many public situations in July.

He also told the commissioners that the county would still need to stay under 580 cases over the next two weeks to maintain current variances.

“I was feeling cautiously optimistic but I am becoming very optimistic that we will be able to maintain the variance over the next two weeks and keep those numbers down,” said Johnson.

But despite that optimism, Johnson did say he believes that cases will likely rise some from the 580 measured over the prior two weeks as cases had been unusually low over the preceding weekend. He also mentioned his concern that an upcoming event could result in a case spike.

“My fear right now is Labor Day,” he said. “When we saw this last spike it was right after July 4 and although we have had a real response from the residents of Jefferson County we can’t give it up again for another holiday and have everybody going back to crowding at beaches and crowding at venues and having travel that is not safe or we will see another spike.”

According to Johnson, a potential Labor Day spike would likely be more problematic than the July 4 one had been because it would be coming at a time when the county will also “probably going to begin to see flu and it’s going to be much more difficult to try to figure out what’s happening and control it.”

Because of that concern, Johnson said JCPH will putting out a new public awareness campaign that will aim to educate the community about the need to avoid risky behaviors like gatherings prior to the holiday. St. Anthony in Lakewood and Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge.

Deaths, meanwhile, have remained steady and the county has not seen five deaths in one week since the week of June 14. The county saw 27 deaths during the week of April 19, its worst week of the pandemic in terms of deaths.

The commissioners praised both JCPH and county residents for the recent progress.

“I think we are starting to figure out how to do the best practices as far as staying socially distant and wearing masks and washing our hands and I think the hospitals are figuring out how to treat this better,” said Commissioner Casey Tighe.

Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper echoed both that praise and Johnson’s pleas for the county to stay the course with labor day approaching.

“Your point is well taken that we’ve got to continue to stay cautious, do what we need to do and come together to prevent the spread, especially as we look at Labor Day weekend on the horizon,” Dahlkemper said. “And of course we’ve got kids at least as of right now that return to school after Labor Day weekend.”

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