Despite a summer with low-numbers of COVID-19 cases, and ample amounts of applause from Larimer County Public Health officials for the town’s businesses, workers and people diligently following the county’s protocols, the COVID-19 counts for Estes Park have of late been spiking.
As of November 14, Estes Park has had 180 confirmed cases and seven deaths since data collection began, with 103 cases and one of the deaths occurring since November 1. Larimer County has had 6,659 cases and 63 deaths, with 195 cases reported during a recent 24 hour period.
The COVID-19 Dashboard for Larimer County indicates the county is at HIGH risk for spread of the virus. The county’s HIGH rating, while alarming can be deceptively comforting for Estes if we forget that the data for Estes Park (est. population 6,400) are a subset of the data for the county (est. population 300,000). When cases in Estes rise more rapidly than they do for the county then the actual risk rating for Estes, if there was one, could be higher than the HIGH rating given the county. I will be taking up this issue during the recently initiated weekly phone updates of the Larimer County Health Department. At an opportune time, I’ll ask that actions and supports be assigned proportional to case rates.
Many of us are wondering why a spike in COVID-19 cases now happening in Estes? I suspect the answer to that question will be complicated, multifaceted, and unlikely to arrive anytime soon. It is possible some townspeople contracted the virus during evacuation, and then brought it here. Perhaps a few of the 2,000-plus firefighters who came to save Estes and surrounding areas from wildfires represent factors. Perhaps the escalation is due to Halloween, or in-person classes, or church services, or tourists, or gatherings of families or friends, or people spending more time indoors or lapses from judgement.
Although the cause of the spike is as yet unclear, comments I’m receiving about the virus from townspeople couldn’t be clearer. Here’s a typical sequence.
“Wendy, I’ve been diligent and look what’s happening.” Followed by, “Being separated from family is difficult.” Then, “I’m so tired of COVID.” After which each person invariably puts aside deep disappointment, sadness, and fatigue to say, “But Wendy, I’m not giving up. I refuse to let the virus win.”
The never-give-up attitude was certainly present at the fairgrounds on November 4 when 286 of our townspeople were tested for the virus. Although most results were negative, there were some positive findings, many of them asymptomatic. However, every person by volunteering to be tested did ace the exam for being a responsible resident. As did two local pastors with whom I talked recently, who informed me that, thanks to congregation-wide efforts, one church here has no cases and the other only two cases.
Though we are tired of being cooped up and weary from conforming to safety regulations, this is not a time let down our guard. Instead, with Thanksgiving a week away let’s give everyone the gift of caring. Remembering that each of us is important to someone, the action of one affects us all, and that together we will stomp the spike.
PS – regarding mention of the Pioneer Award in last week’s report out, my apologies for inadvertently referring to the Estes Park Museum Friends & Foundation Inc. as the Friends of the Library.