County COVID numbers are declining dramatically

Moving to a future that probably includes COVID

[ By Mark Reaman ]

The number of positive coronavirus cases in Gunnison County continues to decrease, following a trend set by Colorado in general but not all mountain locations. The latest seven-day average indicates that just more than three new cases are being detected every day in the county. That’s compared to the end of January when the seven-day average was 21 cases per day and included the January 25 recording of 81 new positives.
“Our cases are trending in a good direction,” affirmed Gunnison County public information officer Andrew Sandstrom. “We were a bit behind most of the state that saw a major decline last month but we are now catching up. The end of January appears to have been our peak.”

He noted that not all mountain resort areas are seeing the downward trend. San Miguel, home to Telluride and Grand County, the location of Winter Park, both continue to see high positive rates.

Vaccinations continue to run smoothly
The vaccination protocol in the county is receiving accolades from people who have gone through the process. So far the county has administered about 5,400 doses between first and second shots. Sandstrom estimated that by the end of this week, approximately 2,000 people would be fully vaccinated with the two doses.

“We have our normal 200-dose allotment scheduled for delivery this week,” he said. “So that is how many first shots we expect to distribute. At the same time we plan on giving 650 more second doses. There is no big increase in doses coming in this week.”

Sandstrom said the county could not give an accurate number for the percentage of the local population that has received the vaccine. He said the state has made it clear that anyone who falls into the priority group cleared to receive a vaccine can get one anywhere in Colorado. “We know we have administered shots to more than just local residents,” Sandstrom said. “Some second homeowners have gotten them here and so have people living in other areas of Colorado. Given that, it is hard to say what percentage of the local population has gotten the vaccine.”

Dashboard update and future planning
Those that have been following the county’s COVID informational dashboard on the Internet know it has not been up for several days. Sandstrom said an updated version is under construction. The new version will include state data. The new dashboard should be up and running sometime Thursday, February 18. “We will have to manually update the numbers for a little bit so that will happen on Sundays and Wednesdays,” explained Sandstrom. “Once we get it dialed in the data will be inputted automatically and happen daily.”

Sandstrom again emphasized that county officials are starting to focus on future planning. The idea is to move COVID issues out from the Incident Command Team (ICT) and into the county’s general health care system. He said the ICT was set up for the emergency situation almost a year ago but it is getting to be time “to normalize this thing as part of the county health care. We don’t know exactly how that will look but we all agree that that is the place we need to head.”

He said while no one knows for sure how it plays out, there is a good chance that COVID-19 or some form of the virus will always be around. In that case, vaccinations administered by local health care professionals instead of the government is probably the direction to expect.

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