Eagle County COVID-19 numbers on the rise as valley prepares for ski season | VailDaily.com

Eagle County COVID-19 numbers on the rise as valley prepares for ski season

Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney: We are not trending in the right direction to have a good healthy ski season'

This week Eagle County is in the yellow, or concerned, section of the state's COVID-19 risk meter. Last week the county was in the blue, cautious, stage.
Special to the Daily

Winter is coming and COVID-19 numbers are trending in the wrong direction according to Eagle County Public Health officials.

“This week, unfortunately, we have indications those trends are changing for the negative, very largely as a result of very preventable things,” said Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron during his Tuesday report to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners.

“People going out and engaging in large social activities indoors with no protections and large numbers of people are refusing to cooperate with public health on contact tracing,” Barron said.

This week, the county is in the yellow stage of the state’s COVID-19 risk meter. There have been 67 Eagle County COVID-19 cases reported in the last two weeks.

“We have seen almost a doubling in the number of cases from the week prior,” Barron said.

Additionally concerning, Barron said 65% of the new cases could not recall a known exposure to someone with illness or confirmed COVID-19.

“We understand it is uncomfortable. No one feels good about sharing their friends’ or coworkers’ names. But if we know who those people are, we can contact them and hopefully keep the numbers down,” Barron said.

Vulnerable populations

Barron noted that there were no local COVID-19 hospitalizations this week, but said there were 23 daily respiratory treatment visits. “We are seeing an increase in the number of cases in people age 60 and older,” he said.

More disease spread among older people, who are more susceptible to COVID-19 and more likely to become seriously ill, is a new wrinkle for the county. Barron noted that even when there was heightened disease spread over the summer, older residents were not hard hit.

“As numbers go up, it is harder for those people to avoid being exposed,” he said.

An increase in COVID-19 numbers upsets a fragile local environment, Barron continued. During the past week, Barron said there has been four separate breakouts that affected schools or child care facilities.

“Even when severe disease is limited, higher levels of disease spread creates a higher level of instability in our schools, in our businesses and in our hopes for a winter season,” he said. “If we keep going the way we are going now, it is going to be very difficult to have a successful winter season, which is something that all of us depend on.”

Ski areas unite

Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney has been part of a ski area task force that is working with the state government to come up with regulations for a safe and successful 2020-21 season. The group has discussed everything from gondola capacity and chairlift operations to housing and transportation.

“They have been going through it so very, very carefully and now the state guidelines will be coming out,” she said. “We really can have a winter season, but it is so dependent upon how the community handles this.”

“I have to say we are not trending in the right direction to have a good healthy ski season,” McQueeney said. “We just really need people to be careful.”

“Hopefully our community can turn things around like we did earlier this summer,” Barron added. “It is all in our control. Do the right thing for your whole community.”

To view Eagle County’s latest COVID-19 data and weekly report, visit ecemergency.org.

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