Between 8/29 and 9/4/21 Gunnison County had 65 positive results across all testing resources. This shows an increase in total cases over the previous two weeks which saw an average of 50 cases each. This comes after approximately a month of case counts around 30 per week.
Prior to the third week of July, Gunnison County saw 7-10 cases per week throughout the course of the summer.
Testing for those with symptoms, a known exposure, or other personal needs continues to be available through a partnership with Gunnison Valley Health. To schedule testing, please call 970-641-3244 to find an appointment. Testing is available Monday-Friday on a daily basis. Consistent testing helps appropriately identify positive cases and do thorough contact tracing to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Week to week, Gunnison Valley Health continues to see individuals with COVID-19 admitted to Gunnison Valley Health and treated appropriately based on their level of illness. In the most recent week, there were 5 new admissions at our local hospital. Additionally, patients who need a higher level of care continue to be transferred to out-of-county hospital systems.
A majority of the cases in our testing come from full-time residents of our community. However, case investigations and contact tracing continue to show positive tests inclusive of County year-round residents, part-time residents, and visitors. 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.
Gunnison County regrets to notify our constituents of another COVID-19 death in our community. Last week, Gunnison County Health and Human Services was informed that a Gunnison County resident died on 8/31/21. An 80-year-old male was seen in the GVH Emergency Room in mid-August before being transferred to a facility in El Paso County where he passed away after extensive treatment.
“It is with sadness and a heavy heart that we are confirming a ninth member of our community has died from COVID-19,” said Gunnison County director of public health Joni Reynolds. “We offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and those in our community impacted by this loss.”
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. 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.
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 over 11,000 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.
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