El Paso County residents heard a clear message today about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Everyone has a role to play to prevent the spread of disease, to promote credible sources of information, and to protect themselves and others. With two presumptive cases of COVID-19 reported in Colorado this afternoon, this information is more important than ever.

Local officials reinforced that message of prevention today, and showcased efforts to monitor and prepare for an outbreak at a press conference earlier today. El Paso County Public Health—the lead agency coordinating the local response—has been monitoring the disease since late 2019 and activated their incident command structure on February 14. During that time, Public Health has been working closely with state and federal partners to monitor COVID-19 as it spreads in the United States and stay current on pertinent information and trends.

Public Health has coordinated with partners from health care, City, County, the medical community, emergency management and many others around the shared goal of limiting the spread of disease and encouraging preventive practices that will protect El Paso County residents. By mobilizing these community partnerships ahead of time and streamlining objectives to achieve a common operational approach, it positions our community to be well prepared.

“The City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County have been planning for this type of health emergency for years and we are prepared to respond,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “We are monitoring the situation very closely and are in continuous coordination through our Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management with El Paso County Public Health, the state of Colorado, and other local agencies.”

“We’re not waiting for COVID-19 to get here to start preparing,” El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller said. “Even though we have yet to see a confirmed case of COVID-19 here in El Paso County, Public Health has taken a proactive approach to inform and educate. Each of us has to take responsibility for keeping ourselves and those around us healthy, and that starts with prevention.”

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, Public Health recommends the following actions:
1. Thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
2. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow shirt sleeve
3. Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
4. Stay home if you are sick
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
6. Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently

Recognize the symptoms:
1. Fever
2. Dry cough
3. Shortness of breath

If someone believes they may have been infected by the virus, they should contact their medical provider before visiting a facility.

“Preparing for something like this requires a community response, and we appreciate the dedicated efforts and expertise from partners throughout the City and County,” said El Paso County Public Health Deputy Director DeAnn Ryberg. “We encourage residents to help prevent the spread of disease by practicing good hygiene, promoting credible sources of information, and protecting themselves and loved ones by staying home when sick.”

Residents are asked to seek out credible sources of information on COVID-19 to include the following list:
• El Paso County Public Health COVID-19 website
• Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 website
• CDC COVID-19 website
• Call CO HELP at 1-877-462-2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org