October 21, 2021, Pueblo, CO – Pueblo County’s COVID-19 testing numbers, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are all showing an increase so far this month compared to September, according to local public health officials.

Public health officials provided an update on local COVID-19 data to community partners which demonstrates the virus is still very active in the community. Most alarming is the number of deaths as there have been 21 reported deaths from COVID-19 so far in October, compared to 22 the entire month of September. From October 13-20, there were 15 deaths reported, one was a child under age 5.

Last week, the cumulative positive rate among Pueblo County residents was 342.6 per 100,000 with the average positivity rate at 6.3%. There are currently 35 outbreaks reported in the county, compared to 21 at the end of September. This past week, there were nine new outbreaks reported, including six schools. Three outbreaks were reported resolved this week.

“People of all ages can get and spread the virus. Children are getting and spreading COVID-19 at a faster rate than they have in the past. Cases in children age 5 to 18 are at its highest level since the start of the pandemic,” said Randy Evetts public health director at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. “We need to continue to do all that we can to protect those who can’t protect themselves, those who currently are unable to get the vaccine, including children under the age of 12.”

In addition to the increase in positive cases, the number of people hospitalized due to COVID in Pueblo County also has risen. Today, there are 78 people hospitalized in Pueblo County for COVID, the highest number since last January.  Hospitals along the Front Range report shortages of personnel and bed capacity due to COVID and other illnesses and trauma. Locally, the hospitals are delaying or canceling elective inpatient procedures due to their limited capacity. “Hospital capacity is a finite resource,” commented Evetts. “The lack of capacity to manage other emergency health needs should be concerning to the entire community,” he said.

Layered mitigation is the best strategy for preventing the illness. Stay away from large crowds, wear a mask, get tested if you have symptoms or feel that you have been exposed, get vaccinated for both the flu and COVID-19, stay home if you are feeling ill, and practice good hand hygiene.

Testing is critical strategy for disease surveillance and containment. Community COVID-19 testing is offered at two locations in Pueblo, near the Pueblo Mall and near the Colorado State Fairgrounds. Testing is also available at other clinical locations and some pharmacies in the community. The State of Colorado and its contractor, Mako Medical offer free community testing at two locations near the Pueblo Mall, 3429 Dillon Drive, Pueblo CO 81008, open Monday through Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and near the Colorado State Fairgrounds, 2400 W Arroyo Avenue, Pueblo CO 81004 open Monday through Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To view testing options in the community, visit this website www.pueblohealth.org. This past week there were a little more than 1,780 tested at the two community testing sites, an increase of 200 from the previous week.

Vaccinations are also critical for the community to move forward. Currently 58% of Pueblo County residents who are eligible for vaccine are full vaccinated. While natural immunity from the illness does provide some initial protection, the current research suggests that natural immunity begins to wane in three to six months. The current vaccines add another layer of protection against this dangerous virus. Currently vaccines are available to those age 12 and older and soon vaccines will be available for those ages 5-11 as well. Vaccines are currently about 80% effective at preventing illness and around 90-95% effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. Everyone eligible is encouraged to get their vaccines.

The Community vaccination site near the Pueblo Mall is open Thursday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Additional vaccination sites, including local pharmacies may be found at www.pueblohealth.org/vaccine or calling 719-583-4444. The state vaccine bus and many local pharmacies offer both flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine and individuals may receive both vaccines at the same time.

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