Between 8/16 and 8/22/21, Gunnison County saw 48 positive results across all testing resources. While testing capacity expanded with the availability of the CDPHE mass testing site, a full 38 of those positives came from our routine community testing. The CDPHE mass testing site produced 230 total tests. As of the morning of 8/23/21, 10 of those 230 tests were positive yielding a 4.3% positivity rate within the broader sample. As of this writing, several results still had not been processed. During the three weeks prior, the average weekly positive case count was approximately 30. Before the third week of July, Gunnison County saw 7-10 cases per week throughout the summer.
The cases in our community are inclusive of County year-round residents, visitors and part-time residents. The COVID-19 Delta variant is spreading in Gunnison County, the Western Slope, across Colorado and nationally. The Delta variant is more contagious than previous variants and spreads more readily from person to person. The exposure risks for the recent local cases are varied including unvaccinated individuals, recent travel, recent attendance at a large gathering, household or close contact and other risk factors. Some individuals have been admitted to Gunnison Valley Health and other hospitals due to their illness and are being treated.
COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness remains high with current, statewide data showing >90% protection against hospitalization and >99% rate of protection against death. Collectively, the available COVID-19 vaccines also provide ~75% protection against infection from the COVID-19 Delta variant. A recent Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) study detailed the change in vaccine effectiveness against infection starting with the circulation of the Delta variant in July 2021. Tracking and analysis of vaccine effectiveness data is ongoing.
On 8/23/21, the FDA announced the full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 years and older. This approval comes after a thorough review of a biologics license application (BLA) including continued analysis of clinical trials with more than 40,000 participants. The vaccine continues under an Emergency Use Authorization for those 12-15 years old.
Following the full approval, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will now be marketed under the name Comirnaty. Should you begin to see this name in vaccine information, please know it is in fact the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine product. The full FDA press release is available in the links at the end of this document.
On 8/18/21, the United States Health & Human Services (HHS) agency issued a statement on COVID-19 booster shots calling for all people in the United States to receive an additional shot 8 months after completion of their initial series of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Data is still being analyzed about the timing of potential Johnson & Johnson booster shots. The CDC and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) will now work on the next steps for recommendations and authorization for the COVID-19 vaccination boosters. It is expected the booster vaccinations will begin by mid-September 2021. Gunnison County Health & Human Services is working with community providers for booster vaccination planning and expect to be fully ready to provide the needed booster vaccinations.
Currently individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination are recommended to have an additional COVID-19 vaccination booster. The booster dose is specifically recommended for individuals who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
Community members who need additional information on the additional dose recommendations are encouraged to consult the links to the CDC and HHS at the end of this document or call Gunnison County Health & Human Services (HHS) at 641-3244.
Gunnison county residents have been successful in the COVID-19 response on many levels. Vaccination levels across Gunnison county are greater than70% for eligible individuals and many individuals have taken important steps to protect themselves and their families. It’s important for all county residents to continue to take actions to protect individuals and the larger community including:
- Get vaccinated if you are eligible (ages 12 years and older), be sure to complete the entire vaccination series.
- Assure best ventilation for all interactions including, outdoor spaces, outdoor air circulation and air filtration as needed.
- Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, isolate if you experience symptoms. Stay home if you are sick and away from others as much as possible.
- Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms
- Wear a mask if unvaccinated in all indoor settings, especially where distancing is not possible. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends all persons (regardless of vaccination status) wear a mask in indoor settings.
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with your face, especially eyes and mouth.
Please visit: https://covid19.gunnisoncounty.org for information on where to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination or testing.
Full Approval for Pfizer Vaccine: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-covid-19-vaccine
CDC Vaccine Booster Information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html
US HHS Statement on Vaccine Booster Doses: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/08/18/joint-statement-hhs-public-health-and-medical-experts-covid-19-booster-shots.html
CDC Vaccination Efficacy and Variant Impacts