EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) — Despite a recent trend of rising COVID-19 cases in El Paso County, commissioners are eager to reopen to full capacity.
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners says it is closely monitoring the latest uptick in cases, as well as other critical data including hospitalizations and deaths.
El Paso County's current incidence rate on a seven-day average is 195. That means that on average, 195 people per 100,000 have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last seven days.
To move to the next level of looser restrictions under Colorado's color dial system, El Paso County would need an incidence rate of 36 to 100 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.
But even if cases continue to trend upward, local governments are expected to gain control over COVID-19 restrictions by the end of next week.
Starting April 16th, Gov. Jared Polis said city and county officials will be able to decide how to handle COVID-19 restrictions.
"I would even encourage the governor to go faster if he were so inclined," said El Paso County Commission Chair Stan VanderWerf.
In somewhat of a contradictory move, Polis has since extended the statewide mask mandate through the end of April.
"We would not impose any additional restrictions," said VanderWerf. "So if the governor were to release the mask mandate, we would not reimpose that here locally. But again, that’s based on the statistics that we have."
The latest data from El Paso County Public Health's COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard shows about 16% of the county's population have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
"Every day that we get more people vaccinated, the risks just continue to go down," said VanderWerf.
13 Investigates asked Commission Chair VanderWerf if the county is concerned fewer people will feel the need to get the vaccine once businesses are back to normal.
"No I don’t think so," he said. "In fact, it might actually have the opposite effect of that."
VanderWerf pointed to COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, which have remained relatively low.
"Hospitalizations, they continue to go down. Really low numbers," said VanderWerf. "And if you look at deaths -- every death is an unfortunate consequence of COVID. But we haven’t had any deaths in nine days."
The county health department reports 36 COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past seven days.