Brighton City Council discussed COVID-19 and new health restrictions at a Oct. 13 study session.
There has been an uptick in the COVID-19 positivity rate throughout Colorado and within the city of Brighton, reported Brighton’s executive director of economic development and an interim city manager, Michael Martinez, at the council meeting. The positivity rate in Colorado is above 5 percent for the first time since May, while Brighton’s positivity rate over the past week surged to 6.60 percent over the week of Oct. 6 to Oct. 13, with Oct. 13 marking the highest one-day positivity rate ever at 13 percent.
The World Health Organization recommends that a 5%positivity rate or lower should be maintained to contain the virus. Because Colorado’s positivity rate has eclipsed that figure, that constitutes an active outbreak in the state according to public health officials, Martinez said at the meeting.
Additionally, Oct. 10 marked the first day that 1,000 new cases have been reported in the state, with an additional 1,000 cases reported Oct. 12. There are 290 hospitalizations due to the Coronavirus statewide, the highest figure since May.
Adams County officials provided a mitigation plan to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment Oct. 14. If certain containment benchmarks, such as a positivity rate of no greater than 10 percent and a rate of fewer than 75 to 175 cases per 100,000 people are achieved by Nov. 2, then the county may remain at Level 2 (no more than 10 people to an outdoor gathering and a mix of hybrid and in-person learning for schools). If those figures are not met, Level 3 restrictions, such as hybrid or remote learning for schools, would go into place.
Tri-County issued additional restrictions for the county on Oct. 19. The order prohibits spectators at professional sporting events, reduces the size of people at recreational sport events to 25, and implements an alcohol sales curfew at 10 p.m., according to a press release. No more than five people should attend indoor gatherings and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Life rite ceremonies are excluded. That order will remain in effect until Sunday, Nov. 1.
“It’s really up to residents, businesses and municipalities to do their part to stop the spread.,” said Martinez. “We all have a part in this if we just take a step back and remember what we are trying to accomplish so that we don’t have to close restaurants down, so that we don’t have to close schools down. It’s simple steps that we have all been doing the last few months that are going to get us to where we need to be.”
Councilmember Adam Cushing credited the spike in coronavirus statistics to ‘COVID fatigue’ among Brighton residents.
“Unfortunately, we’ve got an issue where we’ve got ‘COVID fatigue’ going on,” said Cushing. “People have been at this so long that they’re just not doing the things they were doing six months ago.”
Cushing also said the council’s decision to opt out of the Adams County mask mandate may have contributed to the spread and urged residents to take different precautions.
“I don’t think it helps when we opt out of the mask mandate that our county has. It kind of sends the message that we are not backing them or backing that mandate,” said Cushing. “And I also think that it creates an enforcement problem. if we don’t do something different it’s not going to matter; we are going to go to Level 3.”
Councilmember Mary Ellen Pollack disagreed with the push from most members of the council to support increased precautions. She likened the governmental restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus to Holocaust trains during the internment of Jewish people in Nazi Germany.
“To be honest, I’ve seen a movie a long time ago where people were being herded into box cars,” said Pollack. “We all know what I’m talking about. And that’s what I’m talking about with this testing, because they have to control you.”
Pollack also suggested that the restrictions might be a part of a larger effort to suppress voters in the upcoming Nov. 3 general election.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me, politically, how convenient, on [Nov. 2] we go to Level 3,” said Pollack. “Who is going to want to go vote, for goodness sakes, when the numbers are up so high? I don’t agree that shutting down our businesses will solve this problem. We are just helping make poor people poorer. We’re putting people out of business with threats that ‘you better do what we say, or we’ll shut you down.’”
Mayor Greg Mills concluded the COVID statistics report by urging citizens to work towards containing the virus.
“Let’s hope we can get this turned around,” said Mills. “Not just hope, let’s work at it as a community.”
In other business, councilmember Tim Watts is working to make Brighton a Purple Heart City, a proclamation thatwouldmark Brighton as a veteran-friendly city. Watts is waiting on the blessing of the Order of the Purple Heart Society to move forward with the proposal, which would need approval from city council.
“We collectively, as a city, can project to others that we are veteran-friendly city, that we are a community that honors those that have received the Purple Heart Medal and those that have served in a time of conflict,” said Watts. “In my opinion it’s a no-brainer.”
Watts mentioned that the designation would include plaques around Brighton and potentially change the color of the lights outside of City Hall to purple in the month of November for Veterans Awareness Month.
Photos: Councilman Adam Cushing; Councilman Tim Watts. Photos courtesy of city of Brighton