Eagle County COVID-19 trends ‘moving in the wrong direction’ | VailDaily.com

Eagle County COVID-19 trends ‘moving in the wrong direction’

Dealing with virus has residents exhausted, but cases are on the rise and vigilance is paramount

This map from the Colorado COVID-19 data page shows the risk level of all counties in the state. The counties marked with a yield sign/exclamation point are under current mitigation orders. Counties marked with a red hand stop sign are enforcing stricter public health orders.
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Even people who haven’t contracted the virus are exhausted by COVID-19.

“I know there are people across the country who are ready to give up. They are just tired of this and ready to throw their hands up in the air,” said Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron on Tuesday during his weekly update to the county commissioners. “Unfortunately, that is not a option. The virus does care if you give up. All it cares about is if it can transmit itself from one person to the next and the next.”

But Barron said the other end of the spectrum — shutting down to wait out contagion — isn’t a feasible, economically sound option. The way forward is a path that straddles these two diametrically opposed schools of thought, he said.

“The best way to prove both of these groups wrong is to show that as a community, we can work together and we can limit these trends just by doing what’s right,” Barron said.

Specifically, that means following the five commitments of containment and working with Eagle County Public Health on contact tracing.

“By doing those things, we will bring the case numbers down,” Barron said.

Moving toward orange

Like the rest of the state and the rest of the nation, Eagle County is seeing a rising number of COVID-19 cases and an increase in severe disease cases.

“Really, this week the name of the game is a number of trends moving in the wrong direction,” Barron said.

Right now, Colorado is seeing disease and hospitalization numbers that are higher than the summer spike figures from July. Barron said population centers and transportation routes across the U.S. are recording “scary increases.”

“This is really concerning to see this national trend that is translating into a state trend,” Barron said.

As of this week’s report, Eagle County was still in the yellow/concerned area of the state’s COVID-19 risk meter. “We do not expect to stay in the yellow,” said Barron, noting the state’s numbers do not reflect the most recent data collected in the county.

As of this week, there were 112 COVID-19 cases reported in the past two weeks. While local hospitalizations remain in the comfortable phase, the number has jumped from 0 just two weeks ago to five this week. Barron noted the community is seeing more school and business disruptions as groups are quarantined to slow disease spread.

Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney emphasized that the county is looking at cautious, not comfortable, conditions and urged locals to be mindful of that fact.

“What happens to us from a regulatory perspective if we cross over into that orange/high risk area?” asked Commissioner Matt Scherr.

“The state does respect that if we move into orange for a day or a week, it’s not a good reason to shift our entire policy,” Barron said. But if trends continue to rise, he noted state intervention is likely. In reaction to rising COVID-19 numbers, the state issued a new gathering size public health order last week.

As the number of COVID-19 cases climbs, Barron said people are tired of being scolded for their behavior.

“That’s exhausting and it’s not motivating to people,” he said. “But we do know that as things get worse, more restrictions may come down from the state.”

The reverse is also true, he added. “We also know as we bring things down, we are able to do more things,” he said.

In a break from his normal role of sharing only public data about COVID-19, Barron said sometimes people need to focus on the human aspect of COVID-19.  Barron shared that he has personally lost three family members to the virus — the latest being an uncle who lived on the Front Range and died last week.

“We need to humanize some of these numbers,” Barron said. “There are family members that people care about who are lost.”

For additional Eagle County COVID-19 data visit ecemergency.org.

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