State set to release COVID ‘Dial 2.0’

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    By Randi Pierce
    Staff Writer

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is expected to release an updated COVID-19 dial framework this week, called the “Dial 2.0.” 

    That updated framework is anticipated to include special consideration for counties under 20,000 population.

    The dial is “a tool that allows Colorado to balance the ongoing need to contain the COVID-19 virus with the need for localized guidance during the pandemic,” a press release announcing the draft framework states.

    On Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis stated he anticipated the updated framework would be released Thursday or Friday.

    “Coloradans have made significant sacrifices to reduce disease transmission, so it is time to update the dial to reflect this reality, plus the increasing number of people who are immunized,” Jill Hunsaker Ryan, CDPHE executive director, is quoted as saying in the press release. 

    According to the press release, draft changes to the framework included:

    • “An increase in the range of incidence metrics for all colors to better balance disease suppression with economic hardship, while preventing a breach in hospital capacity.” 

    • “Moving to a 7-day metric of incidence rate, percent positivity of testing, and hospitalizations instead of a 14 day metric to more quickly respond to local conditions.” 

    • “Decreasing the metric requirement for testing positivity rates in the yellow and orange levels to continue to promote testing as an important disease containment strategy.”

    • “Special consideration from CDPHE for counties under 20,000 population to determine the level on the dial, accounting for weekly variability in the percent positivity of tests and disease incidence rates.”

    San Juan Basin Public Health’s (SJBPH) Brian Devine, deputy incident commander for the agency’s COVID-19 response and environmental health director, explained Tuesday that the agency got its first preview of the “Dial 2.0” on Saturday.

    He added SJBPH has started internally looking at the seven-day numbers in order to be prepared when the dial is put into place.

    “I think probably Archuleta County will start in whatever dial phase is indicated and because of its smaller population, there is the possibility that it would bounce around, and so there may be more consultation between San Juan Basin Public Health, the CDPHE and the county because, especially when you’re going to seven-day metrics, with smaller populations, one day … will really throw those numbers off,” he said. 

    Devine also pointed out that testing will continue to be important for Archuleta County under the updated framework, noting that the number of tests completed in a day will be “really relevant” with a smaller population.

    He noted that SJBPH wants to make sure that people continue to get tested if they have symptoms or have been notified of an exposure. 

    He added the people should test regularly if they are in a high-contact position.

    “That would be a way to keep the positivity low,” he said.

    Testing available

    The free COVID-19 testing site at the fairgrounds, located at 344 U.S. 84, continues to be operated in partnership with COVIDCheck Colorado.

    The testing takes place under the all-weather Hughes Pavilion, with the site open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

    You can register for your free test by going to www.covidcheckcolorado.org and selecting “Get My Test.”

    According to a COVIDCheck Colorado flier, “COVIDCheck Colorado uses a highly sensitive and reliable nasal mid-turbinate swab PCR test that is administered by licensed medical professionals. Please arrive wearing a mask.”

    Testing also continues to be available at a number of local health care facilities, including:

    • Archuleta Integrated Healthcare: 264-2104.

    • Pagosa Medical Group (including rapid testing if deemed appropriate by a provider): 372-0456.

    • Pagosa Springs Medical Center: 731-3700. The facility offers testing for symptomatic patients through its clinic. 

    San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) encourages residents to get tested if they are symptomatic, think they’ve been exposed, or work in a high-contact position.

    Archuleta County
    COVID numbers

    As of Wednesday’s reported data, Archuleta County had 612 cumulative cases among Archuleta County residents since March, and three active outbreaks were listed on SJBPH’s data dashboard.

    On Jan. 1, Archuleta County was reported to have 491 cumulative cases.

    Archuleta County was listed as having one death among COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.

    As of Tuesday afternoon, Archuleta County’s two-week cumulative incident rate was 278.5 new cases per 100,000 population — in the orange range for the metric.