COVID-19 cases hit lowest mark since October as 50% of Routt County residents are fully vaccinated |

COVID-19 cases hit lowest mark since October as 50% of Routt County residents are fully vaccinated

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that Routt County’s Public Health Order requires mask wearing in all public, indoor settings.

There were 14 new cases of COVID-19 in Routt County on April 16. Just over a month later, with local restrictions now just a masking requirement, cases have fallen to just 14 in the past week.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 51 different days where 14 or more people were reported having COVID-19 in the county, according to county case data. This includes several days in November and January where more than 35 people were reported to test positive for the virus on the same day.

“This is some of the lowest case counts we have seen in many months,” said Nicole Harty, Routt County epidemiologist.

Since restrictions were largely rolled back at the end of April, there has been no sign of that leading to an increase in cases, Harty said. Spring break also did not seem to have increased local cases either, and while some people have been admitted, hospitalizations are stable.

Right now, Harty said the county health department is working with people involved in a few clusters of cases, and a few more are being attributed to community spread, “which is to be expected.”

Cases have plateaued between 30 to 35 new cases of the virus over a two-week span, which is roughly equivalent to the frequency of cases in early October, before Routt County saw its first large wave of cases.

But now, 50% of all residents in the county have received the full dosage of the vaccine, and more than 70% of eligible residents have received their first dose. Routt County ranks seventh in Colorado for percentage of residents vaccinated and needs to inoculate about 1,300 more people to reach the goal of 75% of residents vaccinated.

Summit, Mineral, San Miguel and San Juan counties have all eclipsed the 75% vaccination mark, according to state data.

There are a number of instances where someone has gotten the first dose of the vaccine but not the second, so Harty said public health will begin to comb through its vaccine data and reach out to these people to help them find a second dose.

Colorado’s vaccine bus came through the Yampa Valley with both Pfizer and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines the first weekend in May and will return in about two weeks for the Pfizer second doses.

Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith said she has not been seeing resistance to the J&J vaccine, and when looking at the data, more people opted for the single dose option at the bus clinics.

“We gave some additional doses after the pause here in public health, and we had one dose left over, and five people contacted us that they wanted it,” Smith said.

Smith said there are plans for a vaccine booth at the Main Street Steamboat Springs Farmers Market for a few weeks after it starts June 5 where people can walk up and receive a shot.

People who have been infected with COVID-19 should still get vaccinated, and there is no need to worry about having it in the last 90 days. Before vaccines were readily available, those who had COVID-19 within 90 days were asked to wait as they had the antibodies of the virus. This is no longer the case.

“That was just simply because there was an argument to save vaccines for the other people who maybe did not have a degree of immunity. That issue has passed now,” said Dr. Brian Harrington, Routt County chief medical officer. “The farther out you are from having COVID-19, then the more relevant it is to get vaccinated.”

Routt County’s public health order only requires that people wear masks indoors and outdoors when social distancing cannot be achieved. This is set to be in place until June 2.

The state’s public health order, which has a less restrictive mask requirement and puts restrictions on larger events, is set to end Friday. Gov. Jared Polis is expected to adjust the order then, but there is little indication what he will do at this point.

“We get an inkling,” Smith said about what they learn about potential changes from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Some of these announcements truly have even surprised (state health officials).”

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