• We are aware of two new cases of COVID-19 in Elbert County. Both are females in their 50s, and are residents of the county. This represents the seventh and eighth known cases of COVID-19 in the county. Stacey Rinehart, our Environmental Health Specialist, will complete a CDC Case Report on each incident.

    Yesterday Governor Polis asked all Coloradans to begin wearing cloth-based masks when they leave home to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. He further stated that people should wash their masks after every trip out of their homes either in a washing machine or with hot water in their sinks, and that people should use cloth-based, non-medical masks. Elbert County Public Health is supporting this approach as another layer of protection aimed at mitigating community transmission of COVID-19.

    Chronic health conditions, including asthma and unmanaged diabetes, are among the many risk factors for increased COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. I have attached to this email a fact sheet from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to help inform community members with chronic diseases on their specific risks.

    The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is working with communities across the state to prepare for an expected major increase in the need for intensive care unit (ICU) beds as a result of COVID-19. Current estimates are that Colorado has 1,849 ICU beds across the state. The state's goal is to add 1,000 beds by May, and to add another 5,000 by the summer.

    The SEOC is partnering with local public health organizations, health care facilities, the Colorado Hospital Association, and federal and state agencies to prepare for a potential medical surge by:

    • Identifying all current hospital beds in the state by type of care.
    • Helping health care facilities with plans to free up ICU beds and transfer patients.
    • Identifying and preparing alternative care sites that could be repurposed to provide medical care.
    • Identifying and deploying additional ventilators to areas of need with the goal of increasing ICU bed capacity.

    The Office of the Governor announced yesterday that the special enrollment period for health insurance would be extended to April 30, through Connect for Health Colorado. Only the uninsured may enroll during this period, no plan changes. Lear more here

    Colorado will receive federal COVID-19 stimulus dollars. Following are some highlights on how these funds will be distributed across the state (excerpted from the Colorado Fiscal Institute newsletter):

    • Coloradans will receive a total of $4.85 billion in direct cash stimulus payments.
    • For Coloradans who earn the lowest incomes, the cash payments will represent as much as 9.5 percent of their annual pay.
    • Colorado will receive more than $2.2 billion in relief for the state government and local governments.
    • It’s estimated the $600 bonus unemployment payments to displaced Colorado workers will pump between $150.6 million and $322.7 million into the economy each month.
    • The Small Business Administration will be providing forgivable loans to small businesses that employ just under 50% of Colorado’s workforce.
    • Colorado could see $385 million in increased costs due to higher enrollment in Medicaid caused by the economic consequences of the outbreak.
    • With unemployment spiking due to COVID-19, changes to federal rules mean SNAP benefits will increase for many eligible Coloradans.
    • Though controversial, provisions regarding financial aid to the airline industry will likely have a larger-than-average effect for Colorado given the $26 billion economic impact of Denver International Airport.
    • Public and private efforts at the national, state, and local level must ensure the costs of recovering from this crisis are spread out in a fair and just way.

    Colorado’s community foundations have joined statewide philanthropy in stepping up to provide much needed support. Check out this list of COVID-19 relief and recovery funds compiled by Philanthropy Colorado.

    CDPHE regularly updates Colorado COVID-19 pandemic information at https://covid19.colorado.gov/.

    Please connect with me if you have any questions, or if I can provide any support to your respective efforts. Thank you for your partnership in promoting the health of our community.

    Dwayne Smith, MEd, MCHES®, CPST
    Administrator, Elbert County Public Health