The Colorado Springs Bridge Center extended its temporary closure through Monday after three additional vaccinated club members tested positive for COVID-19.
Last week, the center announced it was temporarily closing its doors “out of an abundance of caution” when a fully vaccinated club member tested positive for the disease. The center expected to reopen this week, but club officials extended the closure for an additional week “due to the ongoing threat of breakthrough cases,” club president Bud Raabe said in a statement on the Colorado Springs Bridge Center website.
Two male and two female club members who are “all retired age” and are all vaccinated have contracted COVID-19, said Phoebe Lostroh, a club member who was acting Tuesday as a bridge center spokeswoman. Lostroh is also a professor at Colorado College and has a Ph.D. in microbiology from Harvard University.
The entire membership has been notified of the additional breakthrough cases, Lostroh said.
“Fortunately, no one is suffering from serious symptoms,” she said. “This is so different from the first outbreak, when scores of people got sick. It shows that vaccination makes a difference.”
The Colorado Springs Bridge Center, one of the city’s largest and oldest bridge clubs, is where hundreds of residents — most of them retirees — have gathered for years to play the game. In March 2020, the novel COVID-19 virus found its first victims in Colorado there, after a weekend tournament attended by a member who unknowingly had the virus led to a superspreader event that killed six members and sickened and hospitalized dozens more.
The outbreak forced the center to shutter its doors for 481 days before it reopened in early July, only to close again temporarily fewer than three weeks later.
Since reopening July 6, bridge club members who wish to play in person at the center had to be vaccinated unless they have a medical condition that prevents it, Lostroh previously said. With the increase in COVID-19 cases across the state driven largely by the highly transmissible delta variant — which accounts for as much as 90% of new cases in Colorado — and the additional breakthrough cases, club members will also be required to wear masks inside the facility, Lostroh said.
The club does not plan to enact capacity restrictions at this time but could if El Paso County Public Health officials require it, she said.
Club officials are monitoring the facility’s ventilation system to make sure carbon dioxide levels, which indicate the number of people in the building at one time, remain safe, she said. The center is seeing safe levels under 700 parts per million.
“Again, we know our ventilation system is good and it’s working,” Lostroh said.
Club officials will “carefully monitor the advice and recommendations of the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), El Paso County Public Health, as well as the (American Contract Bridge League) to determine when it is reasonable to follow less restrictive safety protocols,” Raabe said in the statement.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” he said. “We remain hopeful that everyone will stay healthy and safe so we can all meet at the bridge table soon.”
Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who has concerns about possible exposure can find COVID-19 testing information on the El Paso County Public Health website, elpasocountyhealth.org/covid-19-testing-information.
For information about how and where to get a vaccine, visit elpasocountyhealth.org/how-can-i-get-a-vaccine.
Gazette reporter Stephanie Earls contributed to this report.
This content was originally published here.