County close to another break in local COVID-19 restrictions

Flu shot figures show community commitment

[  by Mark Reaman  ]

Gunnison County is being allowed to increase indoor capacity for businesses like restaurants beyond the state restriction of 50 percent. Given the relatively limited COVID-19 transmission rate in Gunnison County, the state is allowing the county to increase the indoor capacity to 55 percent as of Wednesday, October 14. Public Health director Joni Reynolds gave the okay for the increase.

“In order to move up in occupancy under the state’s Protect Our Neighbors status, we have to continue to maintain a positivity rate under 5 percent, which is a case rate of under 25 people per 100,000 residents, and stable or decreasing hospitalizations,” explained Gunnison County public information officer Andrew Sandstrom. “If we can maintain these metrics for four weeks, we will be allowed to up capacity by the 5 percent figure. We are actually due for our first increase this week and will be allowed to open businesses like restaurants to 55 percent. If we keep it up another month the capacity can increase to 60 percent.”

Keeping that status and momentum will not be easy, according to Sandstrom. Human nature is such that once we see so few cases, the tendency is to let up and try to go back to normal. “We have been dealing with COVID in our community for seven months now,” Sandstrom said. “As time wears on, we all want to get back to our normal way of doing things. Unfortunately, the disease is still among us, whether we see it or not. The best thing we can do to continue on our path to opening is to make individual choices that reduce our risks of spreading. The community’s hard work to date has brought us from one of the highest case rates per capita in the country to one of the most open counties in Colorado. Don’t let the lull in cases deceive you—keep up the good work!”

Last week’s flu clinics in both Crested Butte and Gunnison were very successful. According to the county’s weekly update, “713 people got their flu shot in Gunnison and a whopping 582 in Crested Butte. In a total of seven hours over the past two days 1,295 people received their flu vaccine… We use these clinics to practice for situations like COVID-19 and took extra consideration this year in anticipation of a COVID-19 vaccine. It may look a little different, but we are confident we can handle what comes our way.”

Sandstrom said that turnout says a lot about the community and beyond being good is also a template on how to distribute a coronavirus vaccine when the time comes. “The great success of the flu clinic not only showed the community’s commitment to health, but also gave us a great trial run for how a COVID vaccine might roll out. We were able to administer about 200 vaccines per hour during the clinics. This was great practice for the future COVID vaccine.”

According to the county update, if you still need a flu shot call (970) 641-3244 to schedule an appointment. You can also check in with the pharmacies at Walmart and City Market or with your primary care physician.

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