Routt County COVID-19 cases remain below ‘danger point’ with medium viral spread |

Routt County COVID-19 cases remain below ‘danger point’ with medium viral spread

A sample testing kit for COVID-19.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With 124 total confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, Routt County’s chief medical officer said Wednesday that the disease prevalence is “relatively stable and at a high moderate level.” 

Dr. Brian Harrington addressed Routt County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday during the county’s Board of Health meeting. According to Harrington, current disease prevalence has been manageable, though not at the desired lower levels.  

Routt County remains in the medium viral spread level, per the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s cumulative incidence rate metric. There have been six positive cases in the past week and 16 cases in the past two weeks.

“If all factors remained constant, we could feasibly continue this way throughout the rest of the year,” Harrington said.  

But that will depend on two major factors that will soon change — the beginnings of school and cold and flu season.

“It concerns me that we are entering a period with these two new factors at an already significant disease rate in our community,” he said.

After it appeared, Routt County experienced a sudden hike in cases this week, with six additional positives in one day, it was found that data had not been reported correctly. Those six positives had previously occurred and were not considered current. This led the county to further reconcile its data with the state’s records.

Interim Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith explained to commissioners the data collection efforts over the past two weeks.

“I want to take the time to clarify the data issues and get the data up to speed and accurate,” Smith said.

The error resulted when a local medical clinic switched labs late last month and had not reported the data to the Colorado Electronic Disease Reporting System. COVID-19 tests are submitted to laboratories that need to be connected to the state system’s database to ensure all results are reported back to the state and subsequently to local county health departments.

Smith noticed the discrepancy and manually entered all cases from that particular clinic into the state’s database, which made it appear that cases in Routt County jumped. She also noticed a duplicate in the system and corrected it, bringing the actual total to 124 cases.

According to the county’s data, there have been 116 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases and eight probable cases for a total of 124 cases. By month, that breaks down to:

  • 23 positive cases in March
  • 29 positive cases and five probable cases in April
  • Three positive cases and two probable cases in May
  • 15 positive cases and one probable case in June
  • 39 positive cases in July
  • 7 cases in August (to Aug. 11)

The current local disease prevalence in Routt County is 3.34 cases per 100,000 people, according to Harrington. He obtained that figure by using the period from Aug. 3 to 9 during which six positive cases were discovered. That equates to 0.86 cases per day. He then calculated the percentage using Routt County’s population of 25,683 and converted it to a ratio for 100,000 people.

“This is well-below the danger point of 10 cases per 100,000, when the Harvard Global Health Institute suggests stay-at-home orders should be considered,” Harrington said.

A daily rate of 10 cases per 100,000 people would equate to 2.57 cases per day per the county’s population, or 18 cases per week. 

In addition, the county’s positivity rate remains below 5%, he said.

“If we have higher cases, people tend to believe that our only tool is to issue more public health orders,” Commissioner Beth Melton said. “But I would say at this point in time, we don’t have to resign ourselves to more regulation to mitigate against a medium disease prevalence.”

Melton said before school and winter season begin, the community will need to take collective efforts to reduce cases and positivity rate. 

“More prevention — fewer gatherings and masking up and social distancing is imperative,” she said.

To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email

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