It's been nearly a month since the arrival of the coronavirus in El Paso County, and the county's first death -- as well as four of the 11 fatalities from the virus so far -- are connected with a bridge tournament in Colorado Springs.
Since then, the county's health department has released little information -- apparently less than what Gov. Jared Polis said in his Monday news conference.
However, Dr. Leon Kelly, the county coroner who's also acting as deputy medical director for the health department, said there's a good reason to be careful.
"You have to follow HIPAA laws -- even during a pandemic," he said. "The way that we do that, is by obviously investigating what we have to, sharing what we need to, to get to the answers and the action that we need, but not overstepping those and putting people in a place where they feel they can be ostracized or blamed, for what is in no way their fault."
Kelly said authorities are only now confirming how many people may have been exposed to or infected by the virus at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center, and he wants the information to be accurate before it's released publicly.
"At first, we thought maybe 100 people might have been infected or exposed," he said. "Then, the estimates got as high as 1,800 before we finally settled on 300. We've contacted them but the investigation continues. Some are sick and in a hospital, while others were sick and recovered."
Kelly said authorities still don't know who the original carrier is who brought the virus to the center.
"We do know that the original person who died, did not have any travel," he said. "So we know they got it from there. This bridge tournament lasted over multiple days --so they could have gotten it from someone else at the bridge tournament, or from someone else in the community."
Kelly said El Paso County has the most COVID-19 deaths of any county in Colorado for several reasons.
"We're one of the two largest counties in the state, so we have more people," he said. "We had an outbreak at a place where large numbers of one of our most vulnerable categories congregate. Right out of the gate, in many ways, we had a worse-case scenario. That's why we all need to take this virus seriously."
Kelly plans to provide an update on the situation to county commissioners Tuesday.