County not immune from latest national COVID spike

Latest variant can hit people harder than Omicron

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

As it appears a new variation of the coronavirus is surging across the country, Gunnison County is no different. But unlike the initial outbreak of the COVID pandemic, this latest outbreak is much more difficult to track as most people have a more laissez faire attitude toward the virus and not everyone is reporting positive test results.

According to national news reports, the latest surge, driven by a spike of BA.5 subvariant cases in this country since May, has sent infections rising in at least 40 states, particularly in the Great Plains, West and South. Hospitalizations have climbed by 20% in the last two weeks, leaving more than 40,000 people in American hospitals with the coronavirus on an average day.

Gunnison County Public Health director Joni Reynolds said this week that there have been “some increase in cases in Gunnison County among residents, visitors and second homeowners.” But she said that the positive tests being seen are from “provider testing only” and typically do not include results from people that use a home test.

“We have seen one or two hospitalizations per week in the past month,” Reynolds said. “The majority of the hospitalizations have been visitors and individuals who do not live in Gunnison County full-time.”

Gunnison Valley Health communications manager Joelle Ashley said they too are seeing an increase in COVID. “At GVH, we have seen an increase in positive tests in staff and patients but that has not translated into an influx of hospitalizations here,” she said. “Many people have experienced mild symptoms but there have been numerous people who have experienced illness that has lasted much longer than we saw during the Omicron wave.” 

Reynolds said it is wise for the at-risk population to increase their awareness given the latest surge. “We are encouraging anyone at risk for COVID complications (due to age or underlying health conditions) to seek testing from a health care provider if they develop symptoms,” she emphasized. “It’s important for the high-risk individuals to be able to access early treatment through a provider, if it’s necessary. 

“We do have free at-home test kits that include free access to telehealth providers through our Health and Human Services office at 220 N. Spruce Street in Gunnison,” Reynolds concluded. “Individuals can pick up the test kits in the door vestibule at the HHS office during our office hours, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

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