Summit County has made significant progress over the past few weeks in delaying the spread of COVID-19, and with vaccines available for distribution among residents of the country, there is a sense of optimism that an end to the pandemic is in sight. .
Despite the optimism, officials continue to urge community members to be careful and take the necessary steps to keep themselves and others safe as the province will continue the vaccination in the coming months.
“With all this great news, we want to warn our community that we are obviously on a long, long, long road ahead,” said Amy Wineland, director of public health. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is long.”
Wineland joined other provincial officials at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon to keep the public informed of the progress being made in reducing COVID-19 numbers across the country and to provide new insights into how officials are spreading the word. vaccines will drive.
Wineland praised residents, visitors and businesses for helping to slow the spread over the past month after the number of cases peaked at the end of November. Over the past two weeks, the province’s case has been reduced to about 706 new cases per 100,000 Summit County residents, a decrease of nearly 50% from a peak of 1,352 per 100,000 at the end of November. The positivity rate, which reflects the number of tests, also declined significantly to 5.7% from a high of more than 15% at the beginning of December.
These statistics should continue to decline as more residents are vaccinated. The province has already distributed nearly 1,000 doses, making the first vaccinations available to first-line health workers and first responders. On Thursday, Dec. 31, the county will open the distribution of vaccines to Summit County residents 70 years and older.
The vaccines would initially be offered only to residents 75 years and older, but the province has lowered the age limit to fall in line with the new guidance from the Department of Public Health and Environment in Colorado announced Wednesday, December 30th. an additional 1,500 residents are now eligible for a total of about 3,000 nationwide. It is unclear how the change will affect the vaccination timeline of the country, as the allocation still largely depends on how many doses the country receives in a given week.
“We do not currently have 3,000 vaccines to give,” Wineland said. “We only have over 800. But we must continue to give it to our community. … We know we get vaccinations weekly, so that’s really good news. We do not know how much we will get next week until the end of the week. So we’ve been planning and planning for the week, and we’re moving if we need to add more distribution sites … if we get more, that’s what happened this week. We only expected 200, and in the end we got three times as much. ”
The country currently has the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available – both of which are considered 95% effective – distributed by pharmacies in Safeway in Frisco and City Market in Dillon and Breckenridge. Summit County Public Health also offers, by appointment, a transit vaccination clinic at the Summit County Transit Depot in Frisco.
The province has made a deliberate decision to offer distribution points, to reduce the risk of community members coming together. The transit clinic is also effective, according to Abbie Cobb, who is part of the Northwest Regional Emergency Response and Response Officer, up to as many as 80 people per hour to be vaccinated.
According to Cobb, Summit County officials practiced the transit system for the first time in 2017 as part of a nationwide exercise focusing on antibiotic distribution.
“It really benefited us in that we had the chance to plan it, set it up, fill the positions and figure out what we needed to do,” Cobb said. “So when COVID started, we realized at one point where we were right now with the vaccine, and we started talking about the best way to do it in late spring.”
Individuals vaccinated through the transit clinic go through four stations: one to check in, one to fill out paperwork, one to get the vaccination and an area after vaccination for officials to make sure individuals are safe to get away. to go.
Sara Lopez, manager of public health nurses, said it was important that even members of the vaccinated continue to take all precautions to protect their neighbors until a majority of the province is vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved.
‘While we still have a lot of viruses in the community, it’s absolutely essential that we all protect ourselves, wear a mask and keep the six commitments to restraint until times pass and we know more, and we can ent, ”Lopez said.
Wineland said public health officials shoot for between 70% and 85% of individuals who are vaccinated to secure herd immunity.
Wineland also expressed confidence that the vaccines and existing public health measures taken by community members would be effective in combating a more contagious coronavirus strain recently discovered in the state.
“It’s not uncommon to see this happen,” Wineland said. ‘It happened with the Spanish flu, where over time it became more contagious and less deadly. The scientists are really confident that the vaccine will cover the new strain, and will still be effective. But what’s really important for people to understand first is that we know how to protect ourselves. We must ensure that we continue to meet the six obligations and ensure that we continue to protect our community at the same time as we continue to get these vaccines out of the shelves and into the arms as quickly as possible so that we can get out of this hole. we’ve been there so long. ”
Community members who have already made appointments say they are excited to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the community.
“(Thursday) I get my vaccination, and I’m very happy to reduce the risk and get on with life as soon as we can,” said Don Wolf, a 77-year-old Silverthorne resident.