COVID-19 update: The vaccinated and unvaccinated gap

August 11, 2021

Nationally, there has been a 27 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, with Colorado experiencing a 16 percent increase. Garfield County has remained relatively stable with an average of four cases on any given day. All the current hospitalizations involve unvaccinated individuals.

Five deaths were confirmed by the Garfield County Coroner’s Office last week. The individuals were all unvaccinated and passed away due to COVID-19 between July 14 and July 31.

“Week after week, the data is showing us that this pandemic is really impacting those who are unvaccinated. The vaccines are doing what they are supposed to do regarding disease severity, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Garfield County Public Health Specialist Mason Hohstadt. “Fortunately, a slow but steady increase in people getting their vaccines continues.”

COVID by the numbers
Garfield County:
• There are currently four people hospitalized with COVID.
• Since July 1, 94% hospitalized cases have been unvaccinated.
• Since May 1, there have been 17 confirmed deaths (one additional pending).
• In July, three deaths involved people under the age 50 – all were unvaccinated.
• 64.4 percent of people have received one dose of the vaccine.
• 57.9 percent of people are fully vaccinated.
• There have been 127 breakthrough cases out of 29,740 fully vaccinated residents, or 0.42% of vaccinated persons
• As of July 18, 100% cases sequenced are now Delta variant for Colorado.

Cumulative incidence rate variance between vaccinated/unvaccinated
The 14-day cumulative incidence rate remains in the yellow range due to unvaccinated cases. In the past 14 days, breakthrough cases (those fully vaccinated who have contracted COVID) have decreased by 5. In addition, the population of fully vaccinated individuals has gone up, reducing the percentage of those that are unvaccinated. Unvaccinated individuals account for 80% of the current COVID incidence rate.

Cumulative incidence rate* comparison
7-day vaccinated 23.9 July 31 – Aug. 6
7-day unvaccinated 132.4 July 31 – Aug. 6
14-day vaccinated 65.1 July 24 – Aug. 6
14-day unvaccinated 280.9 July 24 – Aug. 6

*The cumulative incidence (CI) rate is a measure of the frequency that COVID is occurring over a specific time period and calculated per 100,000 people. It provides a picture of the state of the pandemic in a community.

Municipal vaccine breakdowns
Public health reports countywide vaccine rates rather than rates for each of the six municipalities. Public health tracks the number of vaccinations by municipal area. However, calculating accurate municipal vaccination rates proves difficult. Here’s why: 40 percent of Garfield County residents reside outside of an incorporated municipal boundary but use a municipal address. Using population estimates from the state demography office would underreport the actual number of residents.

To better explain the issue, public health looked at the town of Carbondale. The Department of Labor Affairs (DOLA) estimates Carbondale to have 6,892 persons. Looking at first doses administered to individuals with a Carbondale address, there have been 7,289 leaving a vaccination rate of 106 percent of the total population.

Public health also looked for demographics using census tract levels. The census breaks ages into 0-4, 5-17, 18-64, and 65 and older. Without a more detailed breakdown of ages, there is not an accurate way of finding a denominator.

Therefore, Garfield County has used the overall countywide vaccination rate to provide the best representation of what is occurring in the county.

New mask/testing guidance for residential care facilities serving older adults and people with disabilities
Changes include:
• Requiring universal mask use for staff, visitors, and residents in residential care facilities regardless of vaccination status.
• Requiring testing of fully vaccinated individuals who have had close contact with a COVID-positive person. Testing includes both lab-based PCR immediately after exposure and point-of-care testing, using rapid testing daily during incubation periods.

Get paid to help spread the word about COVID-19 Vaccines
Want to help end the COVID pandemic, use your creative skills, and get paid? Public health is looking for groups of youth, ages 12 to 17, and adults, 18 and up, to help with vaccination campaigns. All ambassadors work alongside healthcare experts, such as doctors, pediatricians, and nurses, to develop and promote consistent messaging on COVID-19 vaccines.

Time is compensated, and food is provided for all meetings. Ambassadors are encouraged to be creative, using social media, events, or other ideas to get the word out. Please contact Garfield County Public Health Specialist Dana Wood at (970) 625-5200, ext. 8121, or by email for more information.

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