Eagle County hits new daily high for virus cases
County official on spike: ’If we take our eyes off the ball, we are in trouble’
On Jan. 4 there were 82 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Eagle County, marking the single highest daily total recorded since the worldwide pandemic first hit the valley back in March.
“Seeing the numbers going up right now isn’t what we want to be seeing and it is crushing,” noted Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron in his weekly report to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners. “We are in the middle of the most serious spike in cases we have seen in this pandemic as a county.”
During the past two weeks, there have been 492 new local COVID-19 cases reported, an uptick that reflects conditions throughout the state and nation. Disease spread has increased following the holidays as vaccination efforts have begun.
Eagle County remains in Level Orange of the state’s COVID-19 risk meter.
“If we take our eyes of the ball, we are in trouble,” said Barron. He noted there is now an average of 70 COVID-19 deaths per day in Colorado.
Barron shared information compiled by the state that shows travel records — an indication of whether or not people are abiding by recommendations to reduce contact with one other. Eagle County residents have consistently demonstrated higher levels of interaction than the state as a whole. But Barron noted that the county data also shows that residents respond positively when officials issue pleas to change behavior. He hopes that will be the case in the weeks ahead.
“We just have to be really careful at this pivotal time, when we are so close to the finish line,” he said.
Barron acknowledged that people are tired — tired of hearing about COVID-19, tired of wearing masks and tired of avoiding contact with others. “But if we can just hang on a little longer… we can hopefully get out of this crisis,” he said.
He made the same five commitments appeal he has been pushing for months — deduce social contact, wear face coverings and practice social distancing. Right now, Barron noted, people need to understand it is time for increased vigilance, not inattention.
“Right now we have community spread where it is not safe enough to say ‘I am going to just avoid this one situation,’” Barron said.
Barron stressed his weekly report wasn’t all bad news.
“We do have some really positive news on the vaccination front,” he noted.
To date, more than 4,000 Eagle County residents have received the COVID-19 vaccine. That number includes front-line medical workers, EMS personnel and law enforcement officers. It also includes a widely growing pool of residents age 70 and older — the general population demographic that is most at risk from COVID-19.
“The supply chain is ramping up across the county,” Barron said. He noted that county public health officials are hopeful that by the end of January, all county residents age 70 and older who want to be vaccinated will have been served.
The next phase of vaccination will focus on essential workers, Barron said. “We are talking about grocery store workers, public works employees, people who have been working in the schools … people who have been essential to keeping our community going,” he said. “We want those people to know we recognize the risks they have been taking and we are prioritizing the vaccination schedule accordingly.”
Along with the vaccination information, Barron stressed the county remains committed to helping local businesses weather the final phase of the pandemic by providing bridge loans and other services.
“If we can help you (business owners) get though the next couple of months, there are funds available to help you do that,” he said.
He directed community members with questions about vaccination, business grants or other pandemic concerns to visit eaglecountycovid.org.
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