After the community testing site in Woodland Park was temporarily suspended and social-media rumor-mongering escalated on Friday, Sheriff Jason Mikesell and Don Angell, Director of the Office of Emergency Management, were determined to set the record straight. 

”We want to make sure we have a consistent line of communication between all of our agencies and what we get out to the public,” Angell said, during a press conference with local media March 20. “I think it’s important to understand that this is a unified command in Teller County.”

Twenty-eight people showed up at the testing site in Woodland Park March 19, which was open for the scheduled three hours, from 1 to 4 p.m. “Of those 28, 18 did not fit the criteria for testing but were given direction about monitoring,” Angell said. “But 10 did meet the criteria, which does not mean they are active COVID-19 patients, because we have not got the test results back. As of right now, 3:20 p.m. Friday, we have zero reports back of positive people in Teller County.”

A report from Teller County Public Health states that the site was temporarily suspended due to the lack of testing supplies. “We were prepared for mass testing so when and if the federal supplies come down that allow us to, we will perform the duties and tasks that we have been told to be prepared for,” Angell said. “We will ensure that all of our first responders and our medical agencies who are on the front line are protected, because that is a critical priority.”

As a result, Teller County is well-prepared to handle the emergency, Mikesell said. “Teller County and the cities of Woodland Park and Cripple Creek are all working together, our faith-based communities, our veterans, all of the organizations; everybody is coming together and working through this.”

To date, Teller County is not considering a shutdown. “We don’t want to feed into the hysteria and some of the issues that are going on,” Mikesell said. “We’re trying to do the recommendations for what needs to be happening. I’m hopeful that a shutdown never goes that far. I don’t believe it will.”

In the meantime, Mikesell urges the Teller County community to receive their news from trusted sources such as the local newspapers, the sheriff’s website, and the new COVID-19 information site,

”We’re having issues with folks in our community putting out horrible information that promotes fear and questions us,” Mikesell said. “It’s just hurting all the first responders in this county.”

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