COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — The El Paso County Health Department told Colorado Springs City Councilmembers Monday that the community’s variances to allow businesses to expand operations amid COVID-19 are at risk of getting rolled back.
“The governor is watching us closely,” explained Susan Wheelan, Director of the El Paso County Health Department.
She said, “It is a real concern that we’re going to lose those additional variances, those allowances.”
Monday marked the end of a two-week review period from the Colorado Department of Health to see if El Paso County could decrease its cases.
This week, local and state officials are expected to discuss what comes next. Variances in El Paso County could be rolled back, or an extension for more data could be given.
Dr. Robin Johnson, Medical Director for the El Paso County Department of Public Health, explained that the county currently has the second-highest rate of incidents in the state.
One of the metrics communities have to follow is having fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 in a 14-day period. El Paso County is currently averaging 145 cases, per 100,000.
Johnson explained that when some variances were approved, El Paso County was averaging 25 cases per 100,000 people.
District 5 Councilmember Jill Gaebler expressed concern for the potential of businesses shutting down a second time.
“That would be terrible, not only for those individual businesses and their owners but for our economy too,” she explained.
Councilmember David Geislinger said, “It’s very sobering, what the health department presented.”
After the health department’s presentation, Mayor John Suthers gave the council a look at revenue for 2019 going into 2020, explaining there’s been a decrease since the pandemic began.
“We also don’t know which direction which way this crisis is going to go with the withdrawal of some of our variances. The bottom line is we’re going to have less revenue in 2020 than we did in 2019,” the mayor said.
The El Paso County health department didn’t specify which variances are at risk.