Colorado COVID-19 Outbreaks Fall by Design

Officials have documented a COVID-19 outbreak among staffers at the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway in El Paso County.
Officials have documented a COVID-19 outbreak among staffers at the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway in El Paso County. Google Maps
We knew the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado would fall over the past seven days, and they have. What's uncertain is whether the improved numbers reflect an actual decline in site-based spread of the novel coronavirus or are the result of a definition change that requires more than twice the previous case count before an outbreak is declared.

Starting in April 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment considered an entity an outbreak after two or more COVID-19 cases among residents, staffers or other people connected to a specific location were confirmed within a fourteen-day period, or two or more cases of respiratory illness with an onset of symptoms within a fourteen-day period were paired with at least one additional COVID-19 diagnosis. But as of June 1, the CDPHE is only applying that standard to residential health-care and correctional facilities. In most other places, including schools, child-care centers, work sites, events, dormitories and non-residential care settings, an outbreak will only be designated after five or more confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, plus at least one that's had a positive molecular amplification test in a fourteen-day period.

That makes the outbreaks report released by the department on the afternoon of June 9 the first one to be generated entirely after the new rules were put in place — so it's no surprise that they show the spread has slowed. The new total of 5,456 outbreaks (488 under active investigation, 4,968 considered resolved) since the start of the pandmic represents an increase of just thirty outbreaks from the June 2 total of 5,426 (657 active, 4,769 resolved).

That's considerably lower than the forty-outbreak bump from May 26 to June 2, and it would have been lower still were it not for late reporting involving several sites declared outbreaks under the pre-June 1 rules — such as the Colorado Springs Apple Store, which was tied to two staff cases on May 28. There's also been a waning of outbreaks at K-12 schools, most of which have now completed the 2020-2021 academic year.

In fact, just four K-12 schools are on the list of new sites, and three of them have hefty outbreaks: Englewood High School is tied to twelve student cases, while Ralston Valley High School notched eleven attendee positives, and Greeley West High School one staff case and fifteen among pupils.

Under the revised metric, places with two, three or four positive cases fly under the radar until more people catch the virus, resulting in big numbers from the jump. Examples include the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway (five staff cases, after just reopening last month), the ProHealth potato plant in Yuma County (eight staff cases), C Lazy U Ranch in Grand County (eight staff cases), and Kindercare Learning Center in Vickers (eight staff cases and ten attendee cases). In addition, there are twelve new outbreaks at health-care facilities that are still operating under the previous regulations; nine of them specialize in senior care.

Does all of this add up to good news? Hell if we know.

The following list of newly named outbreaks includes the 29 that are currently under active investigation. They're accompanied by the date when the spread was first identified and details about the people impacted.

1. Apple Store Colorado Springs, Retailer, El Paso County, 5/28/2021, 2 staff cases
2. Aspen Ridge Alzheimer's Special Care Center (23W376): June 2021, Healthcare, Assisted Living, Mesa County, 6/8/2021, 11 resident cases, 8 staff cases
3. C Lazy U Ranch, Hotel/Lodge/Resort, Grand County, 6/6/2021, 8 staff cases
4. Cadence Lakewood (2304DC): May 2021, Healthcare, Assisted Living, Jefferson County, 6/2/2021, 2 staff cases
5. Clayton House (Continuum of Colorado), Healthcare, Group Home, Arapahoe County, 6/9/2021, 1 resident case, 1 staff case
6. Colorado Children's Dental Center, Healthcare, Outpatient, Douglas County, 6/7/2021, 2 staff cases
7. Conejos County Sheriff's Office, Law Enforcement, Conejos County, 5/28/2021, 4 staff cases
8. Emergency Dental of Colorado Springs, Healthcare, Outpatient, El Paso County, 6/2/2021, 2 staff cases
9. Englewood High School, School, K-12, Arapahoe County, 6/7/2021, 12 attendee cases
10. Friday Health Plans: May 2021, Office/Indoor Workspace, Alamosa County, 5/28/2021, 5 staff cases
11. Greeley West High School: April 2021, School, K-12, Weld County, 4/12/2021, 1 staff case, 15 attendee cases
12. Gregory Electric/Adolfson & Peterson — Shepardson Hall CSU, Construction site, Larimer County, 5/4/2021, 3 staff cases Jobsite
13. Home Daycare #8 Colorado Springs, Child Care Center, El Paso County, 6/4/2021, 1 staff case, 7 attendee cases
14. Home Daycare Center #7 Colorado Springs, Child Care Center, El Paso County, 5/12/2021, 2 attendee cases
15. KinderCare Learning Center Vickers, Child Care Center, 5/28/2021, 8 staff cases, 10 attendee cases
16. Life Care Center of Aurora (0204F6): May 2021, Healthcare, Skilled Nursing, Arapahoe County, 6/3/2021, 2 staff cases
17. Madison House Assisted Living (231211): May 2021, Healthcare, Assisted Living, Montezuma County, 6/4/2021, 2 staff cases
18. Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Outdoor Entertainment/Rec, El Paso County, 6/4/2021, 5 staff cases
19. Park Regency Loveland (23F492): May 2021, Healthcare, Assisted Living, Larimer County, 5/25/2021, 1 resident case, 1 staff case
20. ProHealth: June 2021, Food Manufacturing/Packaging, Potato Processing Plant, Yuma County, 6/4/2021, 8 staff cases
21. Ralston Valley High School: April 2021, School, K-12, Jefferson County, 6/3/2021, 11 attendee cases
22. Residence at Grand Mesa (23R116): June 2021, Healthcare, Assisted Living, Mesa County, 6/7/2021, 4 resident cases, 1 staff case
23. Rio Grande Inn (02I146): June 2021, Healthcare, Skilled Nursing, Conejos County, 6/2/2021, 4 resident cases, 1 staff case
24. Sinton Dairy Foods, LLC, Food Manufacturing/Packaging, El Paso County, 5/24/2021, 2 staff cases
25. VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital: May 2021, Veterinary Hospital, Denver County, 6/3/2021, 11 staff cases
26. Vi at Highlands Ranch Assisted Living (23H132), Healthcare, Assisted Living, Douglas County, 6/3/2021, 1 resident case, 2 staff cases
27. Villas at Sunny Acres Assisted Living (23U240): May 2021, Healthcare, Assisted Living, Adams County, 6/3/2021, 2 staff cases
28. Vista Verde Guest Ranch: June 2021, Hotel/Lodge/Resort, Routt County, 6/7/2021, 5 staff cases
29. Westgate Elementary School, School, K-12, Jefferson County, 6/4/2021, 4 attendee cases
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts