EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- El Paso County health officials say the community is ready to open back up and is prepared for an influx of COVID-19 cases.
"We can open the businesses tomorrow, open them all. It does not matter if people are too scared to go to those restaurants, if they're too scared to go to those shops. Our job is to prove we are ready. El Paso County is ready to go," said El Paso County Deputy Health Director, Dr. Leon Kelly to county commissioners on Thursday morning.
KRDO asked Governor Jared Polis at his remote press briefing today if a measure like the one suggested by Dr. Kelly is possible and what steps the county should take to move forward.
"We have a process where counties that have a handle on it and are able to do the testing and the tracing and early warning systems. There are two counties that have already received that," said Governor Polis, "certainly we have not yet received any requests from El Paso County about any different timeline but they are opening stores in El Paso County today and salons."
El Paso County Commission Chair Mark Waller told KRDO, the health department is working on a variant to send to the Governor's office.
Waller explained the plan would open the county up beyond the Governor's 'Safer at home' order, but it first needs to be signed off by the health department, local hospitals, and then commissioners before it goes to Polis.
Polis said Eagle and Mesa counties are the only two who have been through the approval process so far.
There are 995 cases of COVID-19 in El Paso County according to the county's interactive dashboard. 208 people are hospitalized and 71 people have died.
Kelly explained to the county leaders, the virus isn't going anywhere.
"It will continue to be with us. We have to be able to live with it and manage it in a way that doesn't have all the other negative fallouts we have experienced," he said.
Watch the full story on KRDO Newschannel 13 at 5p.m.