COVID-19 dial positions drop for some San Luis Valley counties



SAN LUIS VALLEY -  Positive COVID-19 cases in the San Luis Valley (SLV) dropped during the past two weeks but began to increase after the new year. Alamosa and Costilla counties went from “Level Red” on the state’s COVID-19 dial to “Level Orange.” Only Saguache county is at “Level Yellow” in the SLV.
Jan. 4 the SLV had a two-week positivity rate of 2.18%.  According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center Colorado has seen an uptick in positive tests in the past two weeks with a 7-day statewide average increasing from 7.76% to 8.3%.  
Monday, Jan. 4, the number of active cases remained below 200 in the SLV with 181 cases. This was an increase of 11 active cases from the previous day. Alamosa County continues to lead the Valley with the highest number of cases with 119. Rio Grande County ranks second with 27 active cases and 70 new cases in the past two weeks.
According to the San Luis Valley Health Partnership, “Vaccinations to fight COVID-19 illness are still in limited supply. We are currently authorized to provide vaccinations to those in the Colorado Phase 1A and those “above the dotted line” in Phase 1B. This includes high- and moderate-risk health care workers and first responders, as well as individuals age 70 and above. Those in long-term care facilities are scheduled to receive vaccinations in January as well. Vaccinations are intended to prevent COVID-19 illness, but it is untested how well the vaccines may prevent the virus from spreading from one person to another. Those in long-term care facilities are scheduled to receive vaccinations in January as well.”
At a meeting of the San Luis Valley Healthcare Coalition Tuesday, Dec. 29, it was reported that so far only mild side effects, such as temporary arm soreness, are being observed as early vaccinations for COVID-19 continue this week. According to the most recent state guidelines, Colorado’s Phase 1A includes health care workers in settings with high risk of COVID-19 exposure. Phase 1B includes health care workers in settings with moderate risk of exposure, first responders, those ages 70 and up, and certain other front line workers. Phase 1A and 1B vaccinations will continue in January 2021. Vaccination planning will include providing a second dose for each vaccine recipient.
As of Jan. 4, 2020, among the SLV counties, Mineral County had the highest COVID-19 positivity rate of 21.4% followed by Costilla County with 12.1%. Although Alamosa County had the highest rate of active cases its positivity test rate was 2.3%. Rio Grande County had the lowest positivity rate in the Valley with only 0.9% of tests being positive.
Staff and residents of long-term care facilities are also part of Phase 1. Vaccinations for long-term care facilities have been allocated and contracted at the federal level separately from hospitals, clinics and public health agencies. Long-term care facility vaccinations will begin in early January.
Each county will be able to move through Phase 1A and 1B at different rates, based on vaccine allocations received and the unique makeup of each county. Vaccine providers have not been authorized to provide vaccinations to those beyond Phase 1 at this time. Doing so could jeopardize their ability to continue providing vaccinations.
According to the SLVPHP there were 181 known active cases in the SLV Mondday, Jan. 4. “Active cases” means that the cases are confirmed positive for COVID-19 and are currently being supported by Public Health during their isolation period. Active cases by county were as follows as of Tuesday, Dec. 22:
Alamosa: 119
Conejos: 23
Costilla: 3
Mineral: 3
Rio Grande: 27
Saguache: 6
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center Tuesday, Jan. 5, Colorado continues to have a lower seven-day positivity moving average test rate of 8.3%.  Neighboring states rates were Wyoming 8.3%,  Kansas had a COVID-19 positivity rate of 39.8%, Utah 23.5%, Arizona 16.1%, Nebraska 10.0% and Oklahoma 23.3%.

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