Eagle County COVID-19 numbers begin to flatten
Incidence numbers remain at a high rate, but have steadily dropped the last three weeks
After weeks of continuing increases in local COVID-19 cases, Eagle County disease levels appear to be flattening, albeit at a high level.
“Generally speaking, people seem to be minimizing their social contacts and taking precautions that seem to be working,” said Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron in a Tuesday interview.
There were 410 new Eagle County COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks. That is down from 487 new two-week cases last week and 491 two-week cases reported Dec. 8. While the number is headed downward, the county remains in the red level of the state’s COVID-19 risk meter for that metric.
“Our incidence rate is still really high,” said Barron. “We are still double the threshold for red in incidence, let alone where we need to be at to be orange.”
But the county’s hospitalization numbers are now at the green level and the county’s positive test percentage level has dipped down to low yellow. All three indicators have combined to keep the county at the orange level.
“We have been able to prevent the surge in incredible severe cases and the high levels of death that communities around us have seen,” Barron said. “We have been able been able to keep in-person, hybrid education for our kids going through the end of the year. Those are incredible wins during a difficult time.”
Barron also cited successful efforts to contain outbreaks in “several high risk facilities with no deaths.”
One of those facilities is Castle Peak Senior Life and Rehabilitation in Eagle. Last week the facility reported no new infections had been detected since Tuesday, Dec. 8, when it had 14 active cases among its 50 residents.
“Our county has now vaccinated close to 900 community members and we have been told that we will be getting more vaccine in this week,” Barron continued. “That is the way out of this pandemic.”
The first round of vaccinations were administered to front-line health workers, EMS personnel and residents at assisted care facilities. The next round of vaccinations will include law enforcement, firefighters and medical workers who are not front-line responders. For example, Barron said dentists and dental office staff fall into that third group.
In these weeks when widespread vaccination is on the horizon, Barron often finds himself thinking of soldiers who die in the final days of a war. He believes the current COVID-19 situation resembles the scenario of when peace talks are underway, but battles rage on.
“I don’t want to downplay the risk that is still out there,” Barron said. “ People need to stick with it for a little longer. We are not out of the tunnel yet, but it’s nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Barron said the next week, over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, will be a big challenge to keep disease levels from spiking.
“I really do want to recognize we have made a huge effort as a community … to help our neighbors and help our family members and do what we can to stay safe and help people at this difficult community time,” Barron concluded.
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