a map of covid-19 hot spots in the U.S.

COVID-19 update: A pandemic of the unvaccinated and other local COVID news

July 20, 2021

All COVID hospitalizations since June 1 for unvaccinated people
Since June 1:
• 100% of Garfield County residents hospitalized for COVID have been unvaccinated.
• There have been nine deaths due to COVID. Five were unvaccinated, four were vaccinated – two were part of long-term care outbreaks due to unvaccinated staff, two had severe underlying conditions placing them at high risk.
• 86% of people testing positive for COVID are unvaccinated. Since June 1, there have been 360 COVID cases. Of those, 50 people who contracted COVID were fully vaccinated. One third of the 50 were infected through long-term care facility outbreaks.

Back to school is nearly here, leave kids enough time to get both doses
Garfield County schools are back to class in mid-August. Parents looking to have their students fully vaccinated by the start of the 21-22 school year need to allow 21 days between doses of vaccine. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective.

That means that this week is the optimal time to get students vaccinated to have them fully protected at the start of this school year.

Rifle vaccination rates half of Glenwood Springs, Parachute a third; infection rates follow
• Garfield County has 55.4% of the population fully vaccinated with 61.7% having at least one dose.
Rates of vaccinations in Rifle are almost half of those in Glenwood Springs. Rates in Parachute are less than a third of those in Glenwood.
• To hit the goal of 70% fully vaccinated, Garfield needs 4,239 more people got get a first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J), and more than 7,000 people to become fully vaccinated.

Comparing municipalities: Low vaccine rates = high COVID case numbers
COVID incidence rate by municipality (per 10,000 persons)
Parachute/Battlement 126
Silt 91
Rifle 74
Glenwood Springs 51
New Castle 44
Carbondale 35

HIPAA and privacy laws for COVID vaccines
Vaccination is covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), however it only applies to HIPAA-covered entities (healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and the business associates). HIPAA does not apply to most employers.

Employers may ask for proof of vaccination
If an employer asks an employee to supply proof of COVID vaccine to allow that individual to work without wearing a facemask, that is not a HIPAA violation.

Asking about vaccine status would not violate HIPAA, but other laws could be violated. An example would be requiring employees to share additional health information, such as the reason why they are not vaccinated, could potentially violate federal laws.

National news: CDC designates Garfield a virus hot spot
The Delta variant is now the dominant strain across the globe. In Colorado, 89% of all COVID test results are currently Delta variant. Garfield County made national news last week as a virus “hot spot.” This designation was given to Garfield due to a high incidence rate (how much of the virus is circulating) and increase in test positivity (how many tests come back positive). The increase in test positivity, was higher than Mesa County for the period. The designation also looked at hospitalizations and ICU bed use from COVID admissions which are both “high.” These statistics coupled with mediocre vaccination rates compared to the rest of the nation contributed to the designation.

Delta – one person can infect six others
Studies are showing that the Delta variant is more contagious (one person can infect up to six others) but not necessarily more severe or lethal than other variants. For comparison, a person with seasonal flu typically infects only one additional person.

Vaccines still showing 88% efficacy
The vaccines on the market currently are still showing an efficacy rate of 88%. They are not necessarily developed to keep people from being infected, rather to keep people from developing symptoms and spreading the virus.

Upcoming vaccine clinics
Clinics are offered every day of the week in various locations throughout Garfield County. A list of vaccine clinics can be found on the English webpage, Spanish webpage, and on Facebook @Garfieldhealth.

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