COVID cases increase to 30/week average

Booster shots may be in the cards

[ By Kendra Walker ]

Positive COVID-19 cases in Gunnison County have continued to increase over the past three weeks, averaging at 30 a week, compared to seven-10 cases a week over the course of the summer. Meanwhile, the community may expect to seek out a third booster dose as early as September per recent Biden Administration recommendations.

According to Gunnison County public health public information officer Loren Ahonen, last week there were a total of 28 new cases across all testing in the Gunnison County community. While at this time nearly 99 percent of sequenced samples statewide are the Delta variant, 83 percent of Gunnison County cases across June and July were among individuals who were not fully vaccinated.
“RNA sequencing has to be conducted with a secondary swab and takes a significant amount of time to process, so we do not currently know what proportion of positives were Delta,” explained Ahonen.

He also said that in the last week there were three patients admitted to Gunnison Valley Health, and four patients were transferred to other facilities in the last 10 days.

This week the Biden Administration announced they will likely urge all Americans, regardless of age, to get a booster shot eight months after they became fully vaccinated. Moderna and Pfizer booster shots are expected to roll out in the U.S. in September. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention authorized a booster dose for immunocompromised individuals.

Ahonen still encourages anyone who has not been vaccinated to consider doing so. “Vaccination continues to provide the best protection available against COVID-19,” he said. As of August 16, the county has 10,915 fully vaccinated residents, which is over 70 percent of the eligible population. Seventy-five percent of the eligible population has received at least one dose.

Starting August 16, Western Colorado University began requiring masks indoors in all public spaces again, regardless of vaccination status. In a letter this week, interim president Nancy Chisholm stated, “While in regular communication with Gunnison County and the State of Colorado public health officials, we are considering what is best for our campus. In-person learning and the health of everyone on our campus are of the highest priority.”

Western will be hosting several vaccination clinics this fall and unvaccinated faculty, staff and students will be tested for COVID-19 once a week beginning August 23.

The county has not issued any new health protocols, restrictions or mask mandates at this time. “Gunnison County continues to monitor data and conditions. Currently additional public health orders are not in consideration,” said Ahonen.

However, the Town of Crested Butte has issued a mask requirement in all town buildings and the Gunnison Watershed School District last week made the decision not to require a mask mandate, but still encourages both masking and vaccination among eligible student body and staff.

All county residents are advised to continue to get vaccinated, assure best ventilation, wash hands and avoid contact with your face, monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home if sick, get tested if you have symptoms and wear a mask if unvaccinated in all indoor settings. Visit https://covid19.gunnisoncounty.org/ for information on where to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination or testing.

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