Summit County positivity rate ticks up as essential workers are set to be eligible for vaccines
After an uptick in the positivity rate and new cases this week, Summit County officials are urging residents to continue wearing masks, keeping their distance from others and getting tested for COVID-19.
The county’s seven-day average positivity rate, or percent of tests that return positive, jumped from 3.9% on Friday to 5.9% Tuesday, falling within level yellow on the state’s COVID-19 dial. New cases also increased slightly from 158.2 new cases per 100,000 people Friday to 164.6 new cases per 100,000 people Tuesday.
Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland said at the Board of Health meeting Tuesday that the number of variant cases has slowly continued to grow, as well. The county now has 11 confirmed variant cases and nine pending cases and is investigating its first restaurant outbreak involving a variant.
“We’re concerned that even locally we’re starting to see a little bit of an increase, whether this is due to visitors coming in with spring breakers or just our own residents being a little more lax knowing we’re on our way to less restrictions,” Wineland said. “I think that spring is here, and everybody is really excited about so many things, but we really need to make sure we continue to follow those six commitments. … We are really still in a very fragile position right now in our data and cases.”
The county’s testing sites were shut down last weekend as a result of the storm, which Wineland said could have skewed numbers somewhat as residents lined up to get tested earlier this week. But officials also said that some towns have been having trouble with visitors who aren’t adhering to the county’s restrictions.
“We’ve been hearing from towns that they’ve been seeing issues with mask-wearing … and large groups of individuals walking around not even having a mask on them,” said Nicole Valentine, Summit County’s director of communications. “That is certainly concerning.”
Valentine noted that efforts were being made to work with towns to ensure that visitors understand local restrictions. In the meantime, officials are trying to get vaccinations distributed to as many community members as possible.
The county will begin the next phase of vaccinations Friday, opening the door for individuals ages 50 and older, people with one or more high-risk condition, and front-line and essential workers — such as food and restaurant services, manufacturing, public transit, the U.S. Postal Service and more — to get their shots for the first time. Wineland said the Summit County Public Health Department is receiving 2,180 doses — 1,280 first doses and 900 second doses — to be distributed at vaccination pods Thursday, Friday and Saturday in addition to about 600 more to be distributed by local grocery pharmacies.
The county also conducted a pop-up vaccine distribution site Wednesday in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Family & Intercultural Resource Center.
“This is for our under-resourced populations,” Wineland said. “So it’s not open to the public, but very targeted groups are being offered the vaccine at this neighborhood pod. We’re grateful to have that opportunity with CDPHE, and we will continue to request that going forward.”
About 33% of Summit County residents have received at least one dose, and almost 70% of people ages 70 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to Wineland. She went on to emphasize the importance of community members that already have received their first dose committing to getting their second at the right time, noting that the county receives second doses at incremental times based on initial vaccinations.
Wineland also debunked an apparent scam email going around to some community members saying that second doses would cost $90.
“It is really critical for everyone to understand that this is a free, federal vaccine,” Wineland said. “There is no charge for this vaccine. Some pharmacies will be charging an administration fee if you have insurance, but there is no cost for the vaccine.”
• Get on a list to be vaccinated through the public health department in Summit County, or any other county: CoMassVax.org
• Centura Health: Centura.org/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine-information
• List of vaccination providers across Colorado: CoCOVIDVaccine.org
People ages 50 and older, health care workers, first responders, educators, people with one or more high-risk condition and essential workers are eligible for the vaccine. Educators and child care workers should ask their employer about scheduling an appointment.
People with questions about the local response to COVID-19 can call the county’s hotline at 970-668-9730 or email email@example.com.
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