As temperatures drop and we head into peak flu season, COVID remains prevalent. Therefore, The Sopris Sun delivers this update.
Currently, Garfield County Public Health is offering flu vaccines, as well as the updated 2023-2024 Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID vaccines at a one-stop-shop. People can walk in from 9am to 4pm (except between noon and 1pm) on Wednesdays at the Glenwood Springs office (2014 Blake Avenue) and Thursdays in Rifle (195 West 14th Street). The COVID vaccines are available to anyone 6 months or older, and are covered by most major health insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid.
The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) offer several online tools where you can find COVID data, such as how particular counties track in comparison to others when it comes to vaccination rates. In Garfield County, for example, 74.4% of the total population have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, and 67.1% have completed the primary series (not including the updated 2023-2024 vaccine).
Carrie Godes, a public health specialist with Garfield County Public Health, noted that it’s difficult to track the number of COVID cases with 100% accuracy in the county due to a number of factors.
For instance, “Most people who are sick are doing at-home tests. That’s an example of information we’ll never be able to collect data on,” Godes told The Sopris Sun.
“We’re only getting our data from a couple of sources, and those would mainly be hospitalizations and [wastewater sampling] that’s tracking the virus through CDPHE,” she continued. “So we have these two pieces to look at and go, ‘What is our best guess for what COVID is doing?’”
When comparing numbers from the CDC with Garfield County, the hospitalization rates in Garfield are currently low. But, Godes pointed out that they were slightly higher during the month of October than they were in September.
“While that might look like one thing, there are so many caveats that make it really hard to tell the full story,” Godes explained.
She relayed that there are times when a patient will be admitted to the hospital for an ailment other than COVID, such as a scheduled surgery, and given a COVID test (as is now routine). If they test positive, they are recorded as a person who was hospitalized for COVID. “You could go in for something completely different, test positive, and then be counted in these numbers,” she stated.
According to an online database, run by CDPHE that monitors COVID trends in all of Colorado’s counties from wastewater samples, there was no notable increase in October. This method is significant because it tracks the levels of virus particles in wastewater, and can be an early indicator of increasing or decreasing COVID rates. Visit www.bit.ly/COCOVIDWastewater for those trends.
When it comes to taking precautions, the CDC recommends staying up to date on vaccinations. While someone who is vaccinated can still catch COVID, vaccines can help keep people safe from serious illness or death.
If one does test positive, the standard is to isolate for five days and then wear a mask for the subsequent five days while in public. Of course, handwashing and being mindful of one’s surroundings also helps.
“Just be cautious. Some people are immunocompromised. Some people cannot afford to get sick. Choosing to wear a mask is a great strategy for those folks,” Godes concluded. Another pointer she gave was being mindful of ventilation in the household; anything from opening the windows on a warm day to turning on the bathroom fan can help.
The Garfield County COVID page, with information on vaccines, case data and testing, can be found at www.garfield-county.com/public-health/novel-coronavirus/