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Parents are concerned about COVID-19 data from El Paso County military facilities



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – In response to the coronavirus pandemic, El Paso County Public Health provided maps for people to know how close to them was spread – but local military facilities prevented the main mapping Exactly about this disease?

An investigation by KRDO NewsChannel 13 has revealed part of COVID-19 data is missing and some parents are concerned that this could prevent school districts from getting a full snapshot of the local spread when decided to reopen the classes.

The El Paso County Health Department on Thursday said it was not authorized to make the COVID-19 file number publicly available by zip code when it comes to military installations.

The El Paso County Public Health COVID-19 tracker by zip code reveals gaps around local military facilities.

The problem stems from an order by the Department of Defense to protect national security. It prevents local health departments from giving out information about when someone tested positive at a military base.

However, KRDO recognizes that it is not only the active military members who check on the basis. Spouses, children and military retirees are eligible to take the exam on the grounds.

This is of particular concern for parents living in heavily armed school districts, like Melissa Ellenberger.

Ellenberger spent the summer figuring out how her daughter would spend her senior year attending School District 49. She was even more worried that D49 might not have all of the COVID-19 data for a portion of students have ties to the military.

Ellenberger, a military wife, said she understood the security concerns surrounding COVID-19 disclosures about active members, but wondered if it was necessary to withhold information from the school district about their dependents or not.

“When you’re dealing with the health and well-being of our children, you really have to take the safest course possible. And when we don’t have all the numbers, it is more important to be cautious of mistakes, “Ellenberger said.

Peterson Air Force Base told KRDO that about 25,000 people, or about 3% of the population of El Paso County, have access to their COVID-19 test site. Air Force officials said all tests were submitted to county health officials and noted that the base had a lower coronavirus positive rate than the city or county. Fort Carson has not provided information at our request since Thursday.

More specifically, inspections performed at military facilities count toward the totals in El Paso County, according to Public Health. Health officials did not break down the results by specific zip codes like they did with tests at other locations.

“Regardless of whether the student is a military or non-military, if there is a contact in a school or kindergarten, we will work directly with that facility to ensure that they are taking appropriate steps to take the kids home. is at risk of developing COVID and becoming contagious, or working to make informed decisions that it is still safe to continue in live school, “said Kimberly Pattison of the El Paso County Health Department.

Despite the concerns of some parents, local counties with ties to Colorado Springs’s military community say they believe in the process.

District 49 told KRDO 23% of its students were connected to the military.

When asked about the lack of data, a D49 spokesperson sent us this statement.

“We trust our partners at El Paso County Public Health will provide us with the best information possible to support our decision to continue in direct study. We also trust our fellow students. Our partners in the military will respect their commitment to being good neighbors to Pikes Peak Region and collaborate with leaders like EPCPH to ensure critical information is shared and is available for the benefit of public health and safety.

We are certain that both EPCPH and our military partners have acted only with the highest degree of integrity in the interest of public safety, and
The District 49 firmly believes we are receiving information sufficient to guide our most important decisions about a safe return to face-to-face school. “

-David Nancarrow, District 49

District 20 says nearly a fifth of its student families have connections with the military or the federal workforce.

District leaders said they work closely with health officials to monitor the ever-changing conditions during the pandemic.

“Nearly 20% of families in our district have connections with our local military facilities. Therefore, knowing COVID-19 test data from military bases is included in local health reports gives us an overview of the region’s infection rates “

-Allison Cortez with District 20 Academy

In District 8, 70% of students have relations with the military. The district said it is in regular contact with officials at Fort Carson

“We have a strong and strong partnership with Fort Carson’s management and work, and communicate with them regularly and with a history of a wide variety of facility-related issues that have just occurred. Translate. We contact them regularly. We believe we have safety protocols in place to keep our students and staff safe “

-Christy McGee with Fountains-Carson Fort District 8.

Although it is not possible to report numbers by zip code, district health officials say they will use their knowledge of the COVID-19 cases in the military to notify school districts.

“This is a community project that everyone needs to be involved in. So it’s not just about data knowledge. It ensures that if you have a student, you are checking their symptoms before they go. And that you’re keeping a low threshold when choosing to keep your students at home, “Pattison said.

But for some parents, that missing piece of public data can help calm their minds.

“I was very nervous sending my kids back without knowing what the real number is, compared to some potential we know and then a bunch of hidden numbers,” Ellenberger said.


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