4 new COVID-related deaths recorded in Routt County in past week as vaccine grows nearer
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There have now been 14 deaths in Routt County attributed to COVID-19, with four of them reported this past week, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s dashboard.
One of the deaths was a resident at Casey’s Pond, which was reported Nov. 25, the second since the start of a recent outbreak that caused about 20 residents to test positive for the virus. As of Monday, 16 residents and four employees have recovered from the virus while five residents were still in isolation, according to an update on the senior living facility’s website.
Information about the other deaths in the last week is not yet known.
Health officials have often said that when case counts rise, deaths eventually will follow, and the county is also seeing more hospitalizations. About one of every 41 Coloradans are currently infectious with COVID-19, including Gov. Jared Polis and his spouse, Marlon Reis, who tested positive Saturday.
But a vaccine is on the way, potentially by the end of the year.
In a news conference with Polis on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House COVID-19 task force, said states across the country are reaching their breaking point as the promise of a vaccine grows nearer.
“Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases,” Fauci said. “If you look across the United States, we are really in a public health crisis right now, because we’re having a surge the likes is worse than the surges that we all saw in the late-winter, early-spring.”
Updated county data shows cases slightly declined in the last week, reporting 108 more cases between Nov. 21 and Nov. 27. The week starting Nov. 16 reported 143 additional cases. But the two-week case count is 248, still well beyond the lower threshold for level red on the state’s dial framework.
Where to get a COVID-19 test:
3 to 5 p.m. Mondays; noon to 2 p.m. Tuesdays; 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesdays; noon to 2 p.m. Thursdays at the Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs. Friday or Saturday will become available as needed, and Wednesdays will be added in other parts of the county.
Make an appointment using the online calendar or call 970-870-5577.
Other testing locations:
• UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, 970-875-2686
• Northwest Colorado Health, 970-879-1632
• Steamboat Medical Group, 970-879-0203
• Pediatrics of Steamboat Springs, 970-871-1900
• Sleeping Bear Pediatrics, 970-879-2327
• Steamboat Emergency Center, 970-846-6230
• Steamboat Springs Family Medicine, 970-871-1323
• Yampa Valley Medical Associates, 970-879-3327
• South Routt Medical Center, 970-736-8118
Officials had noted at last week’s public health meeting that case counts were increasing at a smaller pace, a potentially good sign. Having fewer cases than the week before continues this trend.
But Fauci warned a “surge upon a surge” could be in the future.
“The numbers were already going up. You usually see two and a half to three weeks following an event, whatever that event is that precipitates new infections,” Fauci said. “The event has occurred, and we are going to be seeing the result of that in the next couple of weeks.”
Fauci suggested that rather than thinking of holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas as events, the holiday season should be seen as a period of “precarious risk.”
“We have about a month or more of a situation where it is in our hands right now to see if we can mitigate it,” Fauci said.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert stressed people need to be wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding personal gatherings.
Fauci stressed the usefulness of masks drawing a comparison to seatbelts in cars.
“We know that seatbelts save lives for absolutely certain. But occasionally there’s a car accident that’s severe enough that someone is wearing a seatbelt and still gets severely injured or even die,” Fauci said. “Does that mean people should not wear seatbelts? Absolutely not.”
Since the beginning of September, there has been 19 outbreaks in Routt County, just three of which took place at a personal gathering. But those three gatherings have let to 24 cases, according to the county dashboard. Eight outbreaks in businesses that are not a restaurant have led to 28 cases of the virus.
Where outbreaks have taken the strongest hold is in congregate living, which includes someone living in a dormitory, long-term care facility, correctional facility or a group home. Two outbreaks have led to 30 cases in these settings since the start of September.
But Fauci said that the vaccine is on the doorstep. This month there will be 40 million doses of the vaccine available, which will be able to inoculate 20 million people, he said. These will be given to states based on population later this month.
After spending the first few months of the year vaccinating health care workers and those most at risk, Fauci said there would be vaccines available for the general public by April.
“Once we get there, we can crush this outbreak, just the way we did with small pox, with polio and with measles,” Fauci said. “We can do it, we just need to hang together a bit longer.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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