K-12 school update, state hospitalization statistics

September 23, 2021

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Test positivity, incidence, and hospitalization rates are the key indicators used to measure the spread of coronavirus in Garfield County. Based on these measures, Garfield County has been in the “yellow” category for nearly a month.

Over the weekend, Public Health was monitoring 14 hospitalized cases, a 64 percent increase from the previous week.

This week, COVID cases have declined slightly, similar to national trends.

COVID-19 and school-aged youth

During the 2021 spring semester, Garfield County was averaging one school-aged youth case per day. During the current fall semester, this number has risen substantially, more than doubling to 2.4 school-aged cases per day.

Garfield School District Re-2 (Re-2) began the fall semester with an optional masking policy, while the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) adopted a universal masking policy. Comparing school district quarantine* data through September 17, Re-2 has had 236 student quarantines while RFSD has had 14.

*Quarantine (10-14 days) is when someone who might have been exposed to the virus, but has no symptoms and
hasn’t been vaccinated needs to stay home. This is because they could be infected and could spread the virus, even
though they feel well. Vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine, but should seek testing and wear a mask in

The increase in youth COVID cases and corresponding quarantines have prompted several schools (both public and private) to adopt the latest CDPHE school guidance.

CDPHE School COVID Guidance
Schools implementing universal masking (masking of all students, staff, visitors) do not need to quarantine in most settings. For example, students in a class wearing masks would not quarantine if one individual tested positive. The exception is some sports/activities with direct physical contact.

New state guidance:
• Supports universal indoor masking for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of
vaccination status and at all levels of community transmission.

• Removes the “community” vaccination metric (70 percent of the 12 and older population vaccination rate) to
reduce quarantines for typical classroom exposures.

• Increases the percentage of school community vaccination rates from 70 to 80 percent to reduce quarantines for
typical classroom exposures.*

*Typical classroom exposures are where students are seated, learning, or interacting.

Mini-grants available
Public Health is offering ten mini-grants, ranging from $500 to $2,500 for projects that encourage youth ages 12 to 17 and their caregivers to get vaccinated. Grant funding can be used for both the vaccine promotion activity and to cover the cost of something unrelated. Grants that focus on ensuring equitable access for children and youth to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be given priority. Applications are due October 11 and forms are available on the Public Health website.

Waiting for booster dose guidance
Public Health is waiting for approval and guidance to begin booster doses. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) must make a final determination before the department can offer booster clinics. Clinics will be announced following the ACIP determination.

Pfizer vaccine, Cormirnaty
Comirnaty is the new brand name for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. It is the same vaccine that was first authorized for use in December 2020 and more than 200 million doses have been administered to people in the United States.

Breakthrough cases and hospitalizations
In Garfield County, the majority of COVID-19 cases continue to occur in unvaccinated individuals. A new graph tracks cases by vaccination status.

The CDPHE tracks hospital data for the state. In recent days, 80-82 percent of those
hospitalized with COVID in Colorado are unvaccinated.