Summit County and state officials urge everyone to get tested, stay home for the month of November
KEYSTONE — With novel coronavirus cases skyrocketing across Colorado, Summit County officials are urging everyone who wants a test to get a test, regardless of symptoms.
“We really need everyone in our community to get tested immediately if they have symptoms,” Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland said at a Board of Health meeting Tuesday, Nov. 10. “For everyone to get tested also helps us identify those in our community who are asymptomatic.”
Free testing is now available throughout the county with free walk-in testing available in Silverthorne and two clinics open through Vail Health and Centura Health in Frisco. The push for greater testing is an effort to help the county improve its positivity rate, which is the percentage of tests that return positive. The rate is at 18.4%, according to a presentation by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials. That exceeds the 15% positivity rate permitted in Summit County’s current level orange designation.
“The fact that our positivity rate is so high is an indication that we’re not doing enough testing to truly capture everybody who has this virus that’s out there and continuing to spread,” Wineland said.
In addition to getting tested, state officials are encouraging everyone to not interact with other households for the rest of November, wear a mask and stay home if they have symptoms of the virus, including fever, cough, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea and congestion or runny nose.
Summit County has testing available in Silverthorne and Frisco.
Here’s how to get tested at each location:
- Centura Health’s Centers for Occupational Medicine in Frisco: Testing available daily by appointment at the Vista Professional Building. To schedule an appointment, call 970-668-5584.
- State testing in Silverthorne: Drive-thru testing available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at 464-478 E. Fourth St. in the overflow parking lot by the Silverthorne Recreation Center. No appointment, insurance or identification is required.
- Vail Health testing in Frisco: Testing is available by appointment from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Old Community Center. To book an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org including name, phone number, a copy of photo ID and front and back copies of a health insurance card.
People who have been exposed to the virus should get tested about seven days after their exposure while in quarantine. A negative test result does not mean quarantine is over because a positive test result can happen up to 14 days after exposure, according to health officials.
One of the major concerns for state and Summit County officials is the Thanksgiving holiday. Currently, the county’s public health order prohibits indoor gatherings of more than six people from more than two household groups. Outside, that capacity limit is 10 people from no more than two household groups.
“So much of the spread is occurring when people are getting together with friends or family,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said in an interview Tuesday. “They feel comfortable. They let their guard down. They take their masks off. That’s what you do on Thanksgiving.”
Right now, numbers across the state are at a critical point, said Ryan and Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s lead epidemiologist. With current behavior, the state is on a trajectory to surpass its intensive care unit capacity, which is 1,800 beds, by mid-December, they said.
If less social distancing occurs over the holidays, Herlihy and her team expect hospitalizations to surge far beyond that capacity to nearly 3,500 ICU cases.
“Unfortunately, if we see the same reductions in social distancing that we saw with previous holidays — Labor Day and the Fourth of July — that’s when we exceed that ICU capacity even further,” Herlihy said. “That’s why we’re appealing to the public that we really want people to interact with just their own household for the rest of the month, including Thanksgiving.”
The state and county are urging people to follow these measures for the rest of the month to prevent the state from returning to stay-at-home orders, which would be a “last resort,” Ryan said.
On a local level, the measures are an effort to save the county’s ski season. State officials said skiing itself isn’t a high-risk activity. It’s the other activities that are associated with it that cause concern.
All restaurants, transportation and retail businesses are subject to the 25% capacity limitations set by the level orange restrictions on the state’s COVID-19 dial.
“We’re trying to walk this tightrope between keeping people safe from COVID and keeping people safe from unemployment,” said Kacey Wulff, a COVID-19 adviser to Gov. Jared Polis. “As the governor has said, everything is on the table if it’s required to prevent a massive loss of life, but we’re hoping that all of these other systems that we’ve been able to build are going to help with containment with these other strategies as much as possible.”
The ultimate goal of all of the measures is to prevent the state’s hospital system from being overrun. The state is seeing the highest hospitalization numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.
While most counties don’t have hospital systems that are overrun, major metropolitan counties along the Front Range — like Denver, Douglas, Arapahoe and Jefferson — are reflecting increasing hospitalizations, which put them in the level red phase of response for that statistic.
That should be of big concern to Summit County residents, Herlihy said, because many Summit County hospitalizations — for any type of care — are later transferred to hospitals on the Front Range.
“It’s critically important for Summit County to continue to have the Front Range health care system to treat Summit County residents or visitors to Summit County,” Herlihy said. “We need those beds to be available, especially in the Front Range, for all Coloradans.”
Herlihy added that hospitalizations and deaths are ultimately the result of increased cases. While the county hasn’t seen many deaths or hospitalizations to date, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to.
“We see this increase in cases first, and then we start to see an increase in hospitalizations,” Herlihy said. “Then we start to see an increase in deaths. Only in the last week or so we’ve started to see the deaths catch up to us.”
Herlihy said there is “no plateau in sight” for either hospitalizations or deaths in Colorado until people start limiting their contact with others.
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