Vaccine uptick for the county

Mountain community COVID cases higher than rest of the state

[ By Mark Reaman ]

A surprise shipment of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine will lead to between 750-800 new people in Gunnison County getting a vaccine dose in the next week. While not exactly sure why the 500 doses were sent to the county, Gunnison County public information officer Andrew Sandstrom said they were happy to get it.

“We got our normal 200 Moderna doses and then the extra Pfizer vials,” Sandstrom explained. “We were told not to expect that on any regular basis so we are holding back 500 Pfizer doses for the second shot that will be given to people in three weeks. Our estimate is that we have enough vaccine to inoculate between 750 and 800 people with a first dose and 200 with a second dose this week.”

The county is administering as many vaccines as possible and Sandstrom again asked everyone to fill out the “vaccine interest forms” on the county website. “We want to be prepared when we get the vaccine,” he said. “That data makes it easier on everyone. So far about 6,500 people have signed up and that’s not even half of our population. We want to be ready to go and want people to be ready to get the vaccine when it is available. That data base is an important tool.”

Mountain town blues
Sandstrom said state public health officials are concerned with the continued high number of positive cases being shown in mountain communities. He said that while Colorado as a whole is trending down in terms of new positive cases, mountain communities remain stubbornly high.
“We are down from our winter peak of a couple weeks ago but still seeing new cases in Gunnison County,” Sandstrom said. “We are more elevated than we want to be and the state seems particularly concerned about transmissions in ski communities. We are not sure what the state plans to do given the numbers.”

He said state officials appeared perplexed about the high case rates in ski resorts and expressed concern that so many people were coming in from so many places and doing things like eating out. While not a huge surprise to officials in mountain communities, the numbers have raised eyebrows on the Front Range.

He said the county positivity rate has declined to about 9.3 percent on the local coronameter dashboard. The free local testing events have helped discover more cases but brought the positivity rate down. That trend is expected to continue as the county begins setting up regular free testing clinics.

The next free clinic will be held Saturday, February 13 at the Crested Butte Community School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be followed in Gunnison at the Fred Field Center on Friday, February 19 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. CBCS will then host another free clinic on Saturday, February 27 and there will be one in Gunnison on Friday, March 5. Back-to-back testing clinics will take place at the end of spring break. The Gunnison event is scheduled for March 26 in Gunnison followed the next day in Crested Butte on March 27.

The important number for local officials is the hospitalization count and Sandstrom said there has not been a COVID-19 admission to the Gunnison Valley Hospital since January 15. ”While we are seeing more cases, we haven’t seen people getting really ill during this period. So keep wearing those masks and staying socially distanced.”

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