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(July 22, 2021) – Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout the United States with lifted restrictions and declining vaccine uptake.
As the highly transmissible Delta variant makes up 83% of sequenced samples, unvaccinated populations make up 97% of new cases and 99.5% of COVID-related deaths daily according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the previous four days, eight San Miguel County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 resulting in a severe spike in county positivity and incidence rates as testing remains low. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the county’s positivity is at 17.9%, placing San Miguel County in Level Red on the state’s COVID Dial. According to wastewater treatment testing in the east end and variant sequencing in the west end, the hyper-transmissible Delta variant appears to be the dominant strain in the county, presumably the cause of the recent spike.“We are not out of the woods yet. In fact, things are getting worse as cases are on the rise,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “New cases, hospitalizations and deaths are increasing at rates we haven’t seen since the winter, and the biggest threat is to those who are unvaccinated. The more we allow the virus to spread, the more opportunity we give it to mutate yet again. Getting vaccinated as quickly as possible is the safest and most effective way out of this pandemic.”According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccination rates in the United States are at the lowest since January, with 516,441 doses on average reported administered each day of the past week. While San Miguel County is among the top counties in the state for vaccination, summer tourism and travel along with high rates of transmission in neighboring counties put those unvaccinated at greater risk of infection. “We’ve reached another critical juncture, it’s important to use every tool in our toolkit to protect children and others who cannot be vaccinated from COVID-19,” said Franklin. “Consider the levels of precaution you can personally take to prevent the spread of this disease to those who are most vulnerable to hospitalization or death. Vaccination and staying home when you’re feeling at all unwell will help reduce transmission in our community.”Everyone aged 2 and older must still wear masks on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. This is required by federal law for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. This morning, the Town of Mountain Village released a plea to the community to wear masks on the town-owned and operated gondola, as federal regulations require masks on all forms of public transportation.Public Health recommends helping local communities by going the extra mile. Wearing masks in crowded places and on public transportation protects everyone while transmission rates are high. Precautionary measures support federal regulations intended to keep residents and visitors safest from the worst possible outcomes. Public Health encourages those who are unvaccinated to continue following the five commitments of containment:Wear a maskMaintain six feet of physical distanceLimit the number of people you encounterWash your hands frequentlyStay home when sick and get testedPublic Health has confirmed twelve new positive cases of COVID-19 from test results received from July 16 through 22. Of these cases, two are confirmed as east end residents while six are confirmed as west end residents. As of release time today, there are 7 active cases, all actively contagious cases are currently in isolation. To-date, there have been 939 total COVID cases among residents including 13 breakthrough cases and one COVID-related death. To learn more about the county’s current COVID-19 metrics, please visit the County COVID-19 dashboard.