For the seven-day period between 11/28-12/4/21 a total of 53 COVID-19 positive tests were identified in Gunnison County residents. With the increased availability of at-home rapid antigen and rapid molecular tests (BinaxNOW and Cue are the most widely used), Gunnison County has experienced increased reporting of results from citizens based on these test sources. During the same time frame, Gunnison County received (19) positive results through these sources. Based on case definitions from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the known accuracy of rapid antigen tests, positive results obtained through one of these tests are considered ‘probable cases’ when reported to the State. This means they do not appear as a confirmed case in State and CDC datasets. This can lead to a discrepancy in the positive tests reported to Gunnison County Public Health and those numbers visible in State and Federal datasets. Gunnison County Public Health continues to work to represent these results in a fashion indicative of the risk to the community.
Over the last two weeks, there has been significant attention placed on the identification of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified Omicron as a ‘variant of concern.’ The Omicron variant was first identified through viral genome sequencing in quick succession in Botswana and South Africa. Subsequently it has been identified in 52 countries including the United States of America. In the U.S., the Omicron variant has been identified in 18 states.
As of 12/6/21, two cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in Colorado. Both of these cases have been identified in individuals with recent travel history in South Africa. The first case was identified through routine contact tracing by Tri-County Public Health. The second case, identified by Boulder County came through testing at a private practice. In either case, local public health departments have been working in conjunction with CDPHE to do case investigation, contact trace and test known contacts of both individuals.
Currently, no cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in Gunnison County. As part of standard practices in Gunnison County, viral genomic sequencing is completed by the CDPHE lab. The CDPHE lab selects a portion of the submitted specimens for the viral genomic sequencing. This means that not every sample is sequenced for variant identification in Gunnison County. Recently, genomic sequencing of positive test samples has taken between 7-14 days to get a result returned to Gunnison County Public Health.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, Gunnison County Public Health has been working to complete effective case investigations and contact tracing for positive test results in our community. That process continues today and routine systems are in place for this process. When genomic sequencing reveals the Omicron variant in our community, Gunnison County is prepared to conduct the necessary case investigation and contact tracing. We remind our citizens that thorough engagement with the Public Health Staff as they complete their case investigation and contact tracing process helps mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in our community.
While significant media attention has focused on the Omicron variant, at this point little can be said with certainty regarding its transmissibility and the severity of disease associated with the variant. Overtime, more data will become available on the Omicron variant that should help address these uncertainties. Gunnison County is committed to providing accurate, factual information on the Omicron variant as it becomes available.
Locally, we ask our residents to continue our known best practices for mitigating the spread of the coronavirus in our community. In addition, the CDC recommends that those who travel internationally should seek testing within 3-5 days of their return regardless of symptoms.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 we encourage you to seek testing and isolate until you have a result. If you have been exposed to a known positive COVID-19 case, please seek testing and monitor for any symptoms. Should you begin experiencing symptoms, please isolate and seek testing. Those with a known exposure who are unvaccinated should quarantine after exposure. More information is available on our Community Resources page.
Easily accessible COVID-19 testing continues through a partnership with GVH. One of the simplest ways to schedule a test is to use the online platform to self-register. If you would like to schedule a test you can complete the process at https://my.primary.health/l/gvh. Please note, the saliva testing process takes a bit longer than a nasal swab and the process may take 5-10 minutes for some individuals. To clarify any confusion in the community, the saliva-based test is still a PCR test. The only difference is in how the sample itself is collected. No eating or drinking (including water, coffee, gum or anything of the kind) for 30 minutes prior to your saliva test.
Not only does timely testing for people with symptoms (and known exposures) help contain the spread of COVID-19, it is also crucial for deploying monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments. Monoclonal antibody treatments are a tool that can help limit severe disease and hospitalization in specific populations who test positive for COVID-19. While monoclonal antibody treatments are not available to all individuals, many of those with underlying risks for more severe disease are eligible. This includes people with the following risk factors:
- People who are 65 years old or older.
- People who are obese or overweight. This includes adults with a BMI of 25 or more. It also includes children age 12 to 17 who have a BMI in the 85th percentile or higher for their age and gender based on CDC growth charts.
- Pregnant people.
- People with certain underlying medical conditions.
Should you test positive for COVID-19 and believe you might be eligible for monoclonal antibody treatments, please contact your primary care physician about a referral. Monoclonal antibody treatments are available through Gunnison Valley Health. Also, the State of Colorado has made monoclonal antibody treatments available through a series of busses. Appointments at these busses can be made without a referral from a physician. More information on the schedule of the mAb busses can be found here.
Gunnison Valley Health continues to effectively manage patient care for those presenting with COVID-19. Statewide, hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue at a very high level. Currently, more than 1,100 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide. Of hospitalized individuals in Colorado, 82% are unvaccinated.
Current statewide data from CDPHE shows that fully-vaccinated individuals are 10.4x less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and 10.6x less likely to die from COVID-19.
Booster doses are now widely available for all three COVID-19 vaccines. Booster doses can be obtained where COVID-19 vaccines are available. Locally they are available through some private providers and through our pharmacies at City Market, Clark’s, and Walmart. Appointments can also be scheduled at Gunnison County Public Health for a weekly clinic.
If you need to receive an initial vaccination, get a booster shot, or get your children vaccinated, you will want to consult the resources found on our Vaccine Resources page.
Those who received a two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine with the second dose at least six-months ago can receive a booster. Individuals who received a dose of Johnson & Johnson at least two-months ago are also eligible to receive a booster as well.
If you plan to attend a vaccine clinic please wear a mask. If you are getting a booster, please bring documentation of your previous COVID-19 vaccination.
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 5 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. This is particularly important in large indoor gatherings.
- 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.