Young child in Routt County hospitalized with COVID
A child younger than 5 was hospitalized with severe COVID-19 symptoms earlier this month in Routt County, the first such hospitalization since the start of the pandemic.
Children continue to be hit hard by the delta variant, especially since the start of the school year, and Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday there are 14 children — eight of them age 11 or younger — across the state currently hospitalized due to the virus.
“Those hospitalizations are unnecessary,” Polis said, referring to the six children between 12 and 17 that are currently hospitalized. “Anybody who is 12 and up can be vaccinated, and the vaccine is extremely effective in younger folks.”
The locally hospitalized child is not from Routt County, is no longer in the hospital and was allowed to go home to continue their recovery, according to a news release issued by the county Wednesday.
“With the local rise in pediatric cases, it is not a big surprise that eventually we would see a seriously ill child,” said Dr. Brian Harrington, Routt County’s chief medical officer, in the release. “Since a vaccine is still not available to young children and many adults remain particularly vulnerable, this case highlights the importance of all eligible community members to get vaccinated.”
The incidence rate of school-aged children is double that of the rest of Routt County residents as of Monday, according to the Routt County COVID-19 dashboard, spiking just after school started late last month.
Pfizer released data earlier this week that indicated its vaccine is effective for children age 5-11, but the Food and Drug Administration still needs to give the vaccine emergency approval before those children can start rolling up their sleeves. The Pfizer vaccine has emergency approval for children ages 12-15 and full approval for everyone 16 and older.
Routt County recorded 228 new cases of the virus in the past two weeks, with 30 of those being children ages 9 or younger and 52 affecting those between ages 10 and 19.
Colorado has one of the lower infection rates in the country, with The New York Times COVID-19 tracker reporting the state is seeing about 31 new cases per 100,000 residents each day, good enough for the 10th lowest rate in the country.
But Routt County is currently sandwiched between the two counties with the highest incidence rate in the state — Moffat with 112 cases per 100,000 and Grand with 99 cases per 100,000. While no longer in the top three counties for incidence rate in Colorado, Routt still has an above average incidence rate of about 46 cases per 100,000.
“I would be worried if I was unvaccinated,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth. “If I was unvaccinated, knowing that the county that literally is basically in your backyard had some of the worst rates, I’d be pretty nervous.”
If vaccinated, Barron said her level of worry doesn’t go away, but it certainly isn’t as concerning, saying that high rates nearby would give her pause but not cause considerable worry.
“If you have a high rate, that means someone you know probably has it or has been exposed,” Barron said. “Vaccination is probably the key. If you’re vaccinated, you’re probably still good. If you’re not vaccinated, your chances of getting an infection go up dramatically.”
There were 255 cases of the virus in Routt County in August, about 75 of them among people who were vaccinated, according to an analysis of data from the Routt County Public Health. While breakthrough cases are more common than originally thought, those who are unvaccinated are disproportionately getting infected with COVID-19.
About 72% of Routt County’s total population is vaccinated, which accounts for about 18,468 residents. This leaves about 7,100 residents unvaccinated, including young children not yet eligible. In August, about 70% of new COVID cases were concentrated in that much smaller unvaccinated population.
The unvaccinated are disproportionately hospitalized, in intensive care beds and on ventilators as well, according to a snapshot of patients in the UCHealth system taken on Sept. 16.
Of the 265 people in UCHealth hospitals across Colorado, 227 of them were not vaccinated. Of 98 people in UCHealth ICU beds, 87 are unvaccinated. Of 86 on ventilators, 78 are unvaccinated.
“Delta produces a thousand-fold more virus than the original strain,” Barron said. “If you’re unvaccinated, you are 16 times more likely to end up in the hospital, so that is a big deal.”
UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center:
• Sign up online or call 970-875-2686
• Testing is available 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday
Steamboat Medical Group:
• Call 970-879-0203 for an appointment
• Weekend hours are 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
South Routt Medical Center:
• Call 970-736-8118 for an appointment
• Testing available at 10 a.m. Monday to Friday
Northwest Colorado Health:
• Call 970-879-1632 for an appointment
• Testing available Monday through Friday
• Physician visit is required for new patients
Yampa Valley Medical Associates:
• Call 970-879-3327 for an appointment
•Testing is currently limited to YVMA patients only
Pediatrics of Steamboat Springs:
• Call 970-871-1900 for an appointment
Steamboat Springs Family Medicine:
• Call 970-871-1323 for an appointment
• Physician visit is required
• Cost dependent on individual situation
Binac rapid antigen at-home testing
• Individuals can now sign up for the Binax Rapid Antigen at-home testing program through Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Source: Routt County Public Health Department
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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Twenty months after the South Routt School District announced it would close because of a burgeoning coronavirus, COVID-19 is more prevalent in South Routt than ever before.