Perlmutter holds COVID-19 focused telephone town hall

As case numbers tick up, state health officials answer virus questions from Jeffco residents

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 11/16/20

On the evening of Nov. 10, Congressman Ed Perlmutter hosted at telephone town hall event featuring Dr. Margaret Huffman, director of Community Health Services at JCPH, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, CDPHE State …

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Perlmutter holds COVID-19 focused telephone town hall

As case numbers tick up, state health officials answer virus questions from Jeffco residents

Posted

On the evening of Nov. 10, Congressman Ed Perlmutter hosted at telephone town hall event featuring Dr. Margaret Huffman, director of Community Health Services at JCPH, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, CDPHE State Epidemiologist and Daniel Chase, Chief of Staff at Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

During the hour-long call with constituents, Perlmutter and his guests fielded questions from 12 community members while nearly 6000 people listened in. While not mandatory, Perlmutter’s team tried to keep questions focused on the pandemic and related unemployment issues.

Perlmutter opened the call with a statement of concern about the nationwide increase in COVID-19 cases and his hopes that when congress returned to session Nov. 16, there would be progress in passing a relief bill. Herlihy spoke next, telling listeners the state is experiencing exponential growth in cases and a rapid increase in hospitalizations and deaths. She said she understands that there’s a lot of coronavirus fatigue right now, but the reality is the virus is here and causing rapid transmission. She stressed the continued need for masks, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding spending time with people outside of your household unit. Huffman added continuing to utilize curbside pickup at restaurants when possible and calling ahead if you’re going to meet with someone, to make a plan for keeping safe. On the topic of mask mandates, Herlihy said existing measures are working, but not as good as they could be.

“Right now around 62% (of people) are wearing masks. We really need to be at 80-90%,” she said. "There’s also strategy that we need to implement in our personal lives to contain transmission, to stop households from mixing and spreading it to each other.”

When asked about recent reports of promising test results in the development of a vaccine, Herlihy said an estimated 9% of Coloradans have already contracted the virus but warned against a easing up on current prevention practices.

“A vaccine is important and will save lives,” she said. “But all of the strategies in place right now will continue to be important because it will take a while for residents to get access to the vaccine.”

Huffman reminded listeners that there will be a prioritization in distribution when a vaccine is released that will put high-risk individuals at the front of the line.

On why mask mandates haven’t led to more enforcement, Perlmutter said he believed in general, Jeffco residents were taking the mandates seriously and he didn’t think fines or stricter enforcement of mask mandates were the right way to go. On the economic front, in answering a question about Covid relief, Perlmutter thinks progress will be made despite the possibility of Sen. Mitch McConnell maintaining control of the Senate.

“There are a lot of states that are hurting. Layoffs are ticking up, small business closings are ticking up again,” he said. “I think there’s something that will happen to help people. It may be short-term, but hopefully something’s on the way.”

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