3 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Eagle County as summer delta variant surge hits

Incidence rates are climbing, but no new public health orders are anticipated

Pam Boyd
Vail Daily
Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine wait to be filled into syringes at a vaccine clinic in Vail earlier this year.
Photo by Chris Dillmann / Vail Daily

EAGLE COUNTY — Three new COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Eagle County — which is west of Summit County — since late July, a grim indicator that the national delta variant summer surge has hit locally.

According to Eagle County Public Health and Environment Director Heath Harmon, the county’s COVID-19 dashboard was updated Wednesday, Aug. 11, to reflect 26 local deaths since the start of the pandemic. The three latest victims were a female in her 60s on July 31, a male in his 40s on Aug. 6 and a male in his 50s on Aug. 9.

“At this point in time, 98% of the cases in Colorado are coming up as delta variant, so it would be safe to believe that delta variant would be implicated here,” Harmon said.

Local COVID-19 case numbers have climbed as the delta variant has surged across the country. During all of July, a total of 172 COVID-19 cases were reported in Eagle County. During the first 10 days of August, 148 cases have been reported locally.

Harmon noted that during the first week of June, the county saw an average of one new COVID-19 case per day.

“Right now, with this incidence rate, that number goes up to 15 cases per day,” he said. At the local height of the pandemic — in early January of this year — the county saw an average of 45 cases per day.

But even against this backdrop of increased case numbers, Harmon said the county is not currently considering new public health orders. Past orders have included mandatory mask wearing and indoor and outdoor capacity limitations. The reason why the county isn’t looking at a new order is simple, according to Harmon. Today, there is a better tool to battle COVID-19 spread — vaccination.

Summit County COVID-19 numbers

New cases this week: 85

Seven day cumulative incidence rate: 255.1

Hospital occupancy: 29.4%

New hospitalizations this week: 8

Deaths among cases: 8

Vaccination rate: 78.6% of residents are fully vaccinated. 87.4% have received at least one dose.

Source: Summit County Public Health

“Vaccination is really effective in preventing disease and transmission and really good at preventing severe disease,” Harmon said.

For that reason, the county recommends unvaccinated individuals or people who have compromising health conditions wear masks in indoor spaces. Additionally, Harmon urged anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 to get tested.

“If you have a positive at-home test, we urge you to report it to a medical provider or to Eagle County Public Health and Environment,” Harmon said. “If you get sick and if you are not getting any better or are getting worse, we definitely want you to reach out to your medical provider and talk about it, regardless of your vaccination status. We just want to make sure people are seeking medical care when they can benefit from it.”

It’s not too late to get a shot

Harmon noted that statistics from the current upswing show that between 15% and 20% of the new cases have been people who are vaccinated. “We see more illness in our community over this summer among people who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated,” Harmon said. “But people can still get sick with the delta variant. No vaccine is 100% effective against the disease it is designed against.”

Eagle County does have a high vaccination rate — 74% of the total population and 85.5% of the eligible population.

“If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, now is a good time to be vaccinated,” Harmon said. “If you wait until you have been exposed, you won’t have enough time for the vaccine to provide the protection.”

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