As Boulder County prepares to transition into Colorado’s “safer-at-home” order this Saturday, public health officials painted a slightly brighter picture of the local COVID-19 status to Boulder City Council last night. KGNU’s Roz Brown says the loosened restrictions will better match what the state adopted on April 30, with exceptions.
Listen to the report below:
Boulder residents have been on lockdown due to COVID-19 since March 24, but starting at midnight Friday, Boulder County will allow its extension of the stay-at-home order to expire. Boulder County Public Health Director Jeff Zayach told city council face masks would still be required in public for everyone over the age of 12 where social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained. He reminded residents that droplet transmission of the coronavirus is possible when a person is in close contact with someone who has respiratory symptoms.
“Again, the purpose of the mask is for me to protect you, and you to protect me by stopping the spread of those droplets,” said Zayach.
In addition to wearing face coverings, starting Saturday residents are being asked to limit social interactions as much as possible and continue social distancing. Zayach warned those requirements will likely last quite a while.
“Where we are with our order in place is about 75% effectiveness in social distancing,” said Zayach. “The governor says when the statewide stay-at-home order was lifted, that dropped to 65% and we know from modeling it can’t drop below 55%. So, until we have a vaccine or some kind of treatment we are going to be in this mode for quite some time.”
Zayach said more than 400 local businesses have participated through the Boulder Chamber of Commerce to safely open or open for curbside pickup this Saturday. He added that his agency has heard from people who said the county didn’t do enough to protect people and those who feel it went too far. One of those is Air Force veteran Ken Fenton. During public comment by phone last night, Fenton told council he believes Americans were forced to trade their freedom for safety.
“Government restrictions in response to COVID-19 are immoral and should end immediately,” said Fenton. “Generations of my fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen risked their lives for freedom. While it was noble to attempt to save our neighbors’ lives, we have forgotten it’s their life to decide what to do with. Boulder should lead by example and lift all restrictions.”
As of Tuesday, 44 county residents had died from COVID-19. Currently, hospitalizations remain stable, according to Dr. Robert Vissers, CEO for Boulder Community Health. He says nearly 700 people have tested positive for the virus, and 132 have been hospitalized. He added that 113 cases have been among those between the ages of 20 and 29.
“So, despite having a significant number of 20-to-29 year olds with the virus, no one has been admitted to the hospital under age 30, and the majority are between the ages of 60 and 90,” he added.
Vissers said testing has expanded and is about to expand more.
“Starting this Thursday we will offer drive-through testing on our Boulder campus and in Erie,” said Vissers. “We will be able to expand from 100 test per day this week to 200 tests per day by next week for patients who are symptomatic. But, you don’t need to be sick enough to go to hospital or the emergency room to get a test – if you have symptoms you should contact a provider about getting a test.”
For more information on the county’s new COVID-19 rules and guidelines that start May 9, go to bouldercounty.org.