Eagle County inches toward yellow in COVID-19 risk meter
County reports two additional deaths, bringing total to 19 residents
After weeks of steadily declining COVID-19 numbers, disease spread in Eagle County appears to be leveling off according to Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron.
“We still have a really high level of disease,” Barron noted during his weekly update for the Eagle County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. “Lets make sure we keep our numbers going down.”
Barron noted there has been a shift in how the state of Colorado reports COVID-19 information on its risk meter. Previously, cumulative disease incidence was factored using information compiled over a two-week period. The state has changed to factoring incidence over a one-week period. With current trends and the new formula, Eagle County is in the lower end of the orange category. That’s an important move because it means local businesses can apply for less restrictive rules through the state’s 5 Star Certification Program.
“To get into the 5 Star program may be a burdensome process for businesses,” Barron said, noting that if residents and businesses work together to limit COVID-19 spread, Eagle County as a whole is within striking distance of getting to Level Yellow. Getting to yellow means businesses can increase occupancy from 25% of capacity to 50% of capacity.
Over the past week, there have been 177 new COVID-19 cases reported in Eagle County. Also, during the past week, two additional COVID-19 deaths were reported, bringing the county’s total number to 19. The fatalities included a man in his 70s and a woman in her 70s.
“When disease levels are high … what it looks like is nine deaths – nine county residents died between November and January,” Barron said.
He added that even people who are taking precautions are succumbing to COVID-19, another reflection of the high disease incidence rate in the county.
To date, there have been more than 11,500 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in Eagle County. Barron said virtually all the people in the initial vaccination groups — front line medical workers, law enforcement, EMS personnel and residents age 70 and older — who wanted to be vaccinated have received their shots. The county is now scheduling vaccination for the next eligible group — people age 65 and older and people working in education or in front line jobs.
Barron noted there are more than 6,000 county residents who meet the eligibility requirements for the next phase of vaccination. This week, the county received 2,200 doses of vaccine so health officials will schedule shots for the highest priority residents and distribute the remaining vaccine on a lottery basis.
Anyone who qualifies for vaccination under the current state guidelines can register using the Eagle County COVID-19 Vaccination Request Form at eaglecountycovid.org or by calling 917-328-9750. When residents sign up and are eligible, they receive information on how to sign up using a lottery notification system managed by Eagle County Public Health. Vaccines are administered through both the county and Vail Health.
Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney noted that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently announced that the state hopes to reach everyone in the new vaccination eligibility group by the end of February. She said it might help eligible residents to know how long the wait might be.
“If you are a teacher or you are in the 65 to 70 year old category, we anticipate we will be to you by the end of the month,” McQueeney said.
Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry asked if Eagle County has seen any serious adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We haven’t yet,” replied Barron, adding that residents are advised to speak to their physician prior to receiving a vaccination.
“And once you are vaccinated, it doesn’t mean to take off your mask,” said Commissioner Matt Scherr. He noted that it is important both from a community spread standpoint and a community behavior standpoint to promote universal mask wearing. Barron also emphasized that point.
“I will be so happy the day I can take off this mask and enjoy a drink with my friends without worrying about close contact,” he said “Let’s just make sure we get there cautiously and safely.”