County anticipates mid-June spike in COVID-19 cases despite plateau in deaths, drop in hospitalizations locally
June will be a month of change for COVID-19 rates and assistance in Summit County.
Summit County Nurse Manager Lauren Gilbert reported that similar to the rest of the country, COVID-19 numbers in Colorado are expected to rise. Based on numbers that show Colorado is two weeks behind New York and Pennsylvania rates, Gilbert said Colorado is predicted to have case numbers peak in mid-June.
“There is a big wave in Colorado and across the country in BA.2.12.1, but strains B4 and B5, which are more transmissible, are making their way.”
Strains B4 and B5 are “different enough from the other variants that it’s escaping the immune system. Likely we’ll see more infections in people that are vaxxed, boosted, and have natural immunity,” Gilbert said.
However, Gilbert said in an email, due to demand for parking lots and the utilization data of testing sites, which looks at how many people a day are getting tested and vaccinated, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been closing testing sites across Colorado for the past several months.
Therefore, Summit County is simultaneously gearing up for that mid-June rise, but also shutting down as demand dwindles.
In anticipation of the mid-June spike, COVID testing sites, pick-up locations for free at-home COVID tests and the vaccine bus are still open and available for the public.
At the same time, however, it is not confirmed whether the vaccine bus or testing sites will remain mobilized past June 30, according to the state health department’s evaluation of need report.
In Summit County, COVID-19 deaths have plateaued. Hospital beds have remained stable, and staff have not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. In the past week, there has only been one hospitalization due to COVID-19. Public Health is even anticipating a switch back to serving only their traditional population of non-insured and underinsured folks.
But with the upcoming surge most likely happening close to that June 30 date, Gilbert said that date may be reevaluated.
Despite the improvement in case counts locally, COVID-19 numbers are likely to have been “severely” underreported by folks who test positive and negative.
“It is important for the community to know that we also have capacity within our local providers for testing, and our local providers and pharmacies provide vaccines. We have the testing and vaccination locations available on our website,” Gilbert said in an email, “After the free community resources go away, these services will be transitioned to local medical providers.”
Tests are available at Summit County Public Health, the county’s north and south branch libraries, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, and the Senior & Community Center. If an at-home test returns positive or negative, individuals are encouraged to report test results at CovidBinax.colorado.gov. Doing so gives Summit County and the state health department a better idea of positivity rates, and a better chance to protect communities.
Even though COVID-19 has moved to the back of many people’s minds, it’s still prevalent. This week, Summit County’s contact tracing team is planning to report on an outbreak that happened at a school recently.
Gilbert said in response, it’s “a reminder that COVID is still here. I know that we all have pandemic fatigue, but we’re still seeing cases and we’re still seeing this effect classrooms and congregate areas.”
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