Garfield County has seen a recent increase in newly reported COVID-19 cases as people are getting out and about more between the nice weather and businesses reopening, according to the county’s public health chief.
Since last week, the county has seen 10 new onset cases, Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long reported to county commissioners on Monday. But that’s not enough to roll back any relaxation of the rules granted under the county’s state-approved variances, she said.
“We are still within the ranges to stay where we are with things,” Long said.
The county has seen a spike in cases within the Latino community, she also noted. In general, Garfield County has had a higher spread rate within the Latino community, mostly within family units, compared to the state as a whole, she said.
“We are looking closely at that,” Long said, noting there may be some misunderstanding around the relaxed “safer at home” rules and guidelines both locally and statewide.
The latest uptick also dates back to Mother’s Day weekend May 9-10, when larger family gatherings were more likely to have occurred, she said.
“We’ll likely see this week what resulted from Memorial Day,” Long said. “We do expect to see a little bit of a rise in cases from that.”
Some of the newer cases that have been reported in Garfield County are actually older cases that are being confirmed through antibody testing at Grand River Health.
Grand River, based in Rifle, was the only facility offering antibody testing. The test can determine if someone who had experienced symptoms of COVID-19 several weeks ago, actually had the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has been declared a global pandemic.
The antibody testing was offered between May 18 and May 29, during which 190 antibody tests were conducted, Grand River spokeswoman Annick Pruett said.
Of those, 19 were positive with onset dates from within the last 90 days, Pruett said., “some going back to very late January early February.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.
In its bi-weekly statistical report Tuesday, Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs reported two new hospitalizations since last week. The hospital has had a total of 19 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and 15 of those patients have been discharged to date.
Mountain Family Health Centers, with clinics in Glenwood Springs and Rifle, has also been testing for active COVID-19 cases since mid-May.
“Since May 14, we have completed 23 tests and two of those have come back positive,” Marija Weeden, director of operations for Mountain Family Health, said.
On Tuesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced that the state will be stepping up contact tracing efforts as part of its COVID-19 response.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is working with state officials to mobilize more than 800 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to conduct contact tracing and assist with other efforts.
Tracing the contacts of each positive case is key to containing the virus and eventually resuming normal economic and social activity, Polis said in a statement.
“Contact tracing is an important part of containing the spread of this virus and ensuring that Coloradans can keep themselves, and those around them, as safe as possible,” Polis said. “The work of these members will be critical to the health and safety of Coloradans, as well as next steps for our economy.”