For the second time since July, Douglas County has been warned that an increase in COVID-19 cases could result in new limitations related to stopping the spread of the virus.
The warning, from Tri-County Health Department, was also sent to Adams and Arapahoe counties, according to a Tri-County news release.
Douglas County government was working on a mitigation plan to slow the spread, scheduled to be completed by the end of the day Oct. 12, according to a county spokesperson. This plan will look similar to the one created in July, according to the spokesperson.
Possible new limitations from Tri-County could include reduced capacity for businesses, houses of worship and community gatherings if the counties don’t successfully decrease cases. It could also result in earlier closings for bars and restaurants, according to the release.
Over the past two weeks, there have been 400 new cases in Douglas County and eight new hospitalizations. Throughout the course of the pandemic, the highest one-day peaks of the virus in Douglas County have seen more than 40 people testing positive. On Sept. 27, 41 people tested positive. Since then, daily reporting of cases appears to be declining.
As of Oct. 9, the county had 3,032 documented cases. Over the previous 14 days, the county’s disease incidence rate was 113.5 per 100,000 people. At one point in September, Douglas County’s seven-day rolling daily incidence rate surpassed that of Arapahoe County, according to Tri-County data.
Due to contact tracing efforts, Tri-County has concluded that much of this surge is coming from large and small private events, said Jennifer Ludwig, deputy director of Tri-County.
“That seems to be the most viable place where people are being exposed or exposing others,” she said.
That could be in part because when people are around their friends and loved ones, they get comfortable and take their masks off and stop social distancing, Ludwig said.
“We can’t let our guard down right now,” she said. “Especially as we enter flu season.”
Contact tracers have had a difficult time tracking down specific events that have caused infections because residents don’t want to share detailed information about where they’ve been, she said. Some people are worried about getting their friends or loved ones who hosted a party in trouble, though there are no repercussions for having such an event, Ludwig said. The point of reaching out is just to let people know they may have been exposed.
“It’s all educational and informatinal,” she said about the contact tracing efforts.
Tri-County is asking residents to follow certain guidelines when meeting in groups.
“To reduce the spread of infection, when gathering — whether it is indoors or outdoors or at a private party or public event — everyone should be sure to wear face coverings, maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing from others outside of their household and wash their hands frequently,” said Dr. John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County, according to the release.
More guidelines for small gatherings are available at tchd.org.
Douglas County has had 242 hospitalizations and 54 deaths since the start of the pandemic.