COVID-19 cases in Routt County return to pre-omicron levels |

COVID-19 cases in Routt County return to pre-omicron levels

Cases of COVID-19 in Routt County are returning to levels seen before the omicron variant-fueled surge, which in January was infecting more than 1,000 people locally over just two weeks.

There have been just 37 cases of the virus reported in the last week and 119 in the last two, similar to what the Routt County Public Health Department was reporting in mid-December.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” said Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith. “And everyone is kind of trending in the same direction as us, which is great.”

Smith said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s top epidemiologist, was “all smiles” in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s weekly meeting with local public health agencies on Wednesday, Feb. 16. In a media update last week, Herlihy said they are seeing improvement in pretty much every COVID-19 data indicator.

State health officials estimate that as many as 91% of Coloradans have some immunity to the Omicron variant when factoring in vaccination and those who were infected, Smith said.

“Statewide, we’re thinking about, how do we and public health switch from an emergency response to more of a routine disaster control response?” Smith said.

One indication of this switch was updated CDPHE guidance for schools released last week, Smith said. The update moves away from individual contact tracing in favor of measures that are more focused on managing outbreaks — similar to how ailments like sexually transmitted diseases are treated.

While Public Health is still doing some contact tracing, Smith said it isn’t at the level it was six months ago. While early on in the pandemic contact tracing was crucial, Smith said it has become a less effective tool with vaccines widely available.

While some counties have done away with their local COVID-19 dashboard, Routt County has kept updating its site. That said, it looks slimmer than it did at the start of the year, and Smith said they are continuing to pair it down.

“Little by little, you’ll see things going away, because we need to focus on disease control for other diseases,” Smith said, referencing diseases like West Nile virus and rabies.

Tracking these is a core part of a Public Health Department’s role, but these duties were often pushed on to regional partners over the last two years, Smith said. Public health is now working to take back more of these.

“You’ll probably see some of our priorities switch to doing other public health things,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of data we want to be looking at beyond COVID, and we need to free up those resources.”

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