Summit County could move to level blue, or even green, next week
Summit County COVID-19 numbers are trending downward, and with vaccination and incident rates continuing to improve, the county could see another loosening of restrictions as early as next week.
Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland provided officials with an update on the county’s coronavirus situation during a meeting with the Board of Health on Thursday, April 29, sharing some positive news on the area’s progress.
The county’s seven-day cumulative incidence rate dropped to 96.8 new cases per 100,000 residents this week, which brings the metric into level green on the county’s dial. Summit County is currently in level yellow. In order to go to level blue, the county must fully vaccinate 60% of the population and have a seven-day cumulative incidence rate of 250 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents. To move to level green, the county would need to either fully vaccinate 70% of residents or meet a seven-day cumulative incidence rate threshold of 100 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents for seven days.
The county dipped into level green metrics Tuesday, April 27, meaning a move to level green could come as soon as early next week provided that cases don’t increase.
“It’s possible we could skip level blue altogether,” Wineland said. “And I do think that’s important for everyone to understand that it is a possibility because if we have that low number of case numbers, we definitely feel comfortable moving to that level green with less capacity limits. It’s very exciting news.”
Once in level green, businesses, activities and gatherings would be able to operate without capacity restrictions, with few exceptions, according to the county’s updated public health order that went into effect Thursday.
While a move into level green isn’t imminent, a move to at least level blue might be. The current incidence rate is well within blue levels already, and Summit County is rapidly approaching the 60% vaccination threshold. Summit County has fully vaccinated more than 53% of residents, and Wineland said with more than 1,000 second doses planned Thursday, that 60% could be reached by next week.
While the numbers are looking better of late, Wineland emphasized that numerous community members have been traveling over spring break and urged those individuals to get tested.
“We’re at a critical time right now in our community to make sure we don’t turn around and have an increase in our rates,” Wineland said. “So if anybody did travel, even if you’re vaccinated, we are encouraging people to get tested.”
As the county steadily makes its way toward its goal of vaccinating 70% of residents by May 27, officials are also switching up vaccination methods. Wineland said the vaccine distribution event Thursday would likely represent the county’s last large drive-thru event and that officials would begin to focus on targeting certain sectors of the community with neighborhood clinics instead.
“We think and we believe these drive-thru pods are going to get a little bit smaller,” Wineland said. “Next week, we have one for 500. We’ll continue to have those available, but we’re really going to be focusing on getting into neighborhoods.”
The county is also no longer asking individuals to preregister at CoMasVax.org. While individuals are still able to preregister and get an appointment, neighborhood pods are open to walk-ins, as well. A complete list of upcoming vaccination events can be found on the county’s coronavirus webpage at SummitCountyCo.gov/vaccine.
Summit County officials are also working with towns, ski resorts and local businesses to target individuals ages 20-29 for vaccination and have been discussing ways to entice the younger population into getting their shots, including providing live music, free drinks and other ideas.
In the meantime, county officials continue with economic recovery efforts. Planning Director April Kroner said Summit County, along with several other entities in the area, is set to submit an application to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for the state’s regional resilience and recovery road map program. If selected, the process would include a two-year consulting effort to help guide the community in recovering from the pandemic.
In the short term, the county continues to cope with the departure of a significant portion of the local workforce.
“I think the more concerning trend that we’re seeing is usually at this time of year, we have an increase in applications for all of our economic security programs, and instead we’re seeing a continued decline in those applications,” Assistant County Manager Sarah Vaine said. “So we feel like it just fits what we’ve been hearing from folks about a lot of people have had to leave the community.”
Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence chalked the problem up to housing.
“I think it certainly has to do with just the housing crunch that we’re in more so than ever,” Lawrence said. “… I’m just shocked at some of the prices I’m seeing online for rents, and I think we’re going to be in a lot of trouble this summer … and it’s going to be on us to claw our way out of this.”
Level green: Incidence rate of zero to 100 cases per 100,000 residents or 70% fully vaccinated
Level blue: Incidence rate of 101 to 250 cases per 100,000 residents and 60% fully vaccinated
Level yellow: Incidence rate of 251 to 500 cases per 100,000 residents and 50% vaccinated with at least one dose
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