Between 8/22 and 8/28/21 Gunnison County had 50 positive results across all testing resources. This is roughly equivalent with the results from the week prior. While this shows another consecutive week of elevated cases, it also coincides with expanded testing capacity at GVH. Over the past two weeks, GVH has been able to quadruple daily testing capacity which helps ensure positive cases are identified appropriately and efficient contact tracing is completed.

Our current case counts come after several weeks in late July and early August of approximately 30 cases a week. Before the third week of July, Gunnison County saw 7-10 cases per week throughout the course of the summer. On a weekly basis, several individuals with COVID-19 continue to be admitted to Gunnison Valley Health and treated appropriately based on their level of illness. Additionally, transfer of patients to out of county hospitals continues as needed.

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.

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. 

Gunnison County is actively monitoring the progression of research, recommendation and approval around booster doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meets on 8/30/21 to review the recommendation from the US Health and Human Services regarding universal booster doses for recipients of a two-dose mRNA vaccine. Following a recommendation from the ACIP, the CDC and FDA will make a final determination on broadly distributed booster doses.

As a result, Gunnison County has increased our vaccination operations planning to be responsive to the expected need of delivering booster doses in our community in the coming months. While planning and organizing are underway, there are important details to be considered that will only become available with the final recommendation of the CDC and FDA. It is important to note that as of this writing the only individuals eligible for an additional/booster dose are those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. 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

If you do not fall within this group, please do not seek to schedule vaccination through the Call Center. Once the final recommendation for booster doses is determined by the CDC and FDA, Gunnison County will widely message the process and procedure for gaining access to booster doses in our community. At this time, we would also like to clarify that the recommendation for receiving a booster dose would be determined by the date of the second dose, not the initial dose. This has significant implications for the timing of those seeking a booster dose.

Immunocompromised community members who need to schedule an additional dose are encouraged to consult the links to the CDC and HHS at the end of this document before calling Gunnison County Health & Human Services (HHS) at 970-641-3244.

Last week, the Pfizer-BioNTech received full approval for individuals 16 and older. With this step, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will now be marketed under the name Comirnaty. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Comirnaty vaccine are the same product and formulation but are legally distinct in ways that have no relation to the safety or efficacy of the vaccine. The full FDA press release is available in the links at the end of this document.

Throughout the pandemic, Gunnison County residents have been successful in the COVID-19 response on many levels.   Vaccination levels across Gunnison county are greater than 70% 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 themselves as 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.

Additional Information

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

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/pdfs/mm7034e1-H.pdf