In the last week, Gunnison County continued to see a high level of COVID-19 cases. Across all testing sources, 60 total positive cases were identified in the seven-day period ending on 9/11/21. During this same period 90% of cases were Gunnison County residents.
Recently, we have been reporting total positive cases within all testing in the community. This has been a departure from our normal reporting throughout the pandemic which only included cases amongst Gunnison County residents. Case numbers were temporarily reported this way given capacity constraints at Health and Human Services.
This week, we hope to provide broader context around cases in our community as we begin to reorient around the best practice of displaying and reporting cases amongst residents:
|Month||Positive Cases||Among Locals||% Cases Locals||Among Youth||% Cases Youth||% Cases Not Vaccinated||% Hospitalizations Not Vaccinated|
|September until 9/7||84||74||88%||25||30%||71%||95%|
With the return of the school year at Gunnison Watershed School District has come an increase in screening, testing, and identifying cases amongst the youth population. As a result, Public Health Director Joni Reynolds is recommending a universal, indoor mask mandate in K – 12 at the Gunnison Watershed School District given the large proportion of children who are not eligible for vaccination.
As cases continue to increase in Gunnison County, it’s important that residents be mindful of the best practices that we have learned throughout the course of the pandemic. This includes seeking testing when experiencing symptoms or after a known exposure to COVID-19.
Testing 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. Consistent testing helps appropriately identify positive cases and allow for thorough contact tracing to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
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.
Week to week, Gunnison Valley Health continues to see individuals with COVID-19 admitted to the hospital and treated appropriately based on their level of illness. Additionally, patients who need a higher level of care continue to be transferred to out-of-county hospital systems. On the topic, one question we receive frequently is how many people are hospitalized with COVID-19 at a given time. The CDC COVID Data Tracker that is linked to the local covid19.gunnisoncounty.org does display hospitalization information. However, it can be a little challenging to interpret. The data portrayed on the CDC COVID tracker appears to account for anyone who was in the GVH hospital system with COVID over the course of the last seven days. The number does not purely represent new admissions in the last seven days.
Another topic of interest regarding individual risk and COVID-19 is breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals. Gunnison County has tabulated the percentage of breakthrough cases in our community in the previous table. Since July, 74% of cases identified in Gunnison County have been among individuals not fully vaccinated. This is largely consistent with statewide data. Additionally, CDPHE has launched a statewide data dashboard on the topic of breakthrough cases which can be found at https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine-breakthrough.
Statewide, vaccinated individuals are more than 3.4x less likely to contract COVID-19. Vaccinated individuals are also 3.7x less likely to be hospitalized and 5.8x less likely to die from COVID-19. Taken another way, in statewide data, vaccination is approximately 90% effective at preventing hospitalization from COVID-19.
Gunnison County regrets to notify our constituents of our 10th death of a Gunnison County resident from COVID-19. In late August, an 80-year-old female died of COVID-19 after being transferred to a Denver-area hospital. Across the pandemic, 90% of COVID-19 related deaths in Gunnison County have been in unvaccinated individuals.
“It is with sadness that Gunnison County recognizes the death of a long-time Gunnison resident.” said Gunnison County director of public health Joni Reynolds. “We collectively offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends impacted by this loss.”
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.
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
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