Tuesday, May 19, 2020

In El Paso County, COVID-19 bypasses the eastern plains

Posted By and on Tue, May 19, 2020 at 2:22 PM

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 82 people across El Paso County, but has killed only two people in the north and none in the less populated eastern reaches of the county, according to recently released data.

Two restaurants in Calhan on the county's eastern plains — Karen's Kafe and Stephanie's Bar & Grill — defied public health cease-and-desist orders after reopening in recent weeks for dine-in business before the "safer-at-home" governor's order allowed. Although El Paso County Public Health issued that order, the restaurants remained open May 18. When the Indy called to ask why, a woman who answered the phone said, "Just call Public Health about all that."

We asked El Paso County Public Health why the eateries remain open. "Public Health has been continuing to work with the business to educate on the Safer at Home Order, provide outreach, and help the business achieve voluntary compliance," Public Health public information officer Michelle Hewitt says via email.

Meantime, Hewittit says it's hard to glean a meaning from deaths when they're charted geographically by ZIP code, as requested by the Indy.

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She warns that the data set, which reports deaths through May 15, does not speak to the location of disease exposure.

"Any information or conclusions that utilize this data should include contextual facts," she writes in an email. "For example, approximately 50% of El Paso County COVID-19 deaths are associated with long-term care facilities."

ZIP codes 80909 and 80910 in central Colorado Springs had the most deaths, with 30 combined. The 80919 ZIP code, the city's northwest side, also had seen double-digit deaths. All three of those ZIP code areas host long-term care facilities on the list of eight locations of outbreaks in El Paso County.

"Please also note," she adds, "that while the zip code is an important fact, it does not tell the full story of infection. We consider other factors such as place of work, infection sources, outbreak and social contacts as important and other pieces of the puzzle."

Here's a list of ZIP codes. While 82 have died, one death does not contain an applicable ZIP code data point, Hewitt says.

We mapped the data, as seen below. ZIP codes with fewer than five deaths are displayed with a blue marker, those with five to nine deaths are shown with a yellow marker, and those with 10 or more have a red marker.

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