By Randi Pierce
Roughly half of the people in Pagosa Springs over the Fourth of July were from out of town, according to a recently mobility analysis by the state of Colorado.
Brian Devine, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) environmental director and deputy incident commander for the agency’s COVID-19 response, explained that the state did some analysis on mobility over the Fourth of July, with that analysis showing the ratio of visitors to residents in the area.
According to that data, Devine explained, 26 counties had a visitor-to-resident ratio of 1-to-2 or higher.
“So, if that ratio was 1-to-2, visitor to resident, then that would mean one-third of the people present and active in the county were visitors,” he explained.
Archuleta County, he explained, was just over a 1-to-1 ratio, meaning just over 50 percent of the people active in Archuleta County were visitors.
The second variable the state looked at, he noted, was the change in the contact rate, which is based off of phones that exchange anonymous tokens if the close contact parameters are met.
“So, you could be much more active, you could be out and about, you could have a lot more people, but maybe they’re all not spending very much time in close proximity to each other,” he said. “You know, you’ve got a lot of visitors, but they’re all out on trails or they’re all out driving around and they’re not really in contact with anybody else. Or, you could have a lot more visitors and it could produce a lot more close contacts.”
Devine explained the contact rate for the state on the Fourth of July was the highest it has been since March 2020.
“So, the contact rate was really high,” he said, adding that the contact rate went up the most in the metro area, while Archuleta and La Plata counties showed a minimal change in the contact rate on July 4. “My interpretation of that is that we already had a pretty high contact rate to begin with probably, which explains … or partially explains why we’ve so much transmission and so many outbreaks.”
What the anonymous tokens cannot tell us, Devine noted, is whether or not the individuals were indoors or out, vaccinated or not, or whether they were wearing masks or not, only the proximity and the length of time.
Archuleta County’s COVID-19 case incidence rate remains above the state’s, though cases and hospitalizations are relatively flat in the state.
According to SJBPH, Archuleta County’s seven-day cumulative incidence rate was 192.80 cases per 100,000 people — down from 200.00 on July 7.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado’s seven-day incidence rate was 35.3 Wednesday.
“Cases are flat, maybe inching up a little bit,” Devine said of the state’s trends. “Positivity’s definitely going up a little bit, but not by much, and in our two counties it’s been up and down all over the place.”
Hospitalizations in the state, he added, are flat.
“I think we are seeing the state just kind of evening out at this level,” Devine said. “We’ve got higher vaccination rates some places than others, we’ve got higher case rates some places than others.”
The Delta variant of the disease, he noted, has not been officially found in every county in Colorado yet, Devine noted, but public health officials still think it will account for the vast majority of cases by the end of July.
Thus far, the nine cases of the Delta variant have been found in samples from Archuleta County sent to the state lab for sequencing, according to the SJBPH website.
Devine noted that, for the most recent week of data available, about 80 percent of the cases sequenced by the state lab were determined to be the Delta variant.
As of Wednesday, SJBPH listed 1,093 total cases of confirmed COVID-19 among Archuleta County residents since late March 2020, up from 1,064 a week prior.
The agency showed Archuleta County was at 9 percent positivity Wednesday, compared to 2 percent the previous week.
SJBPH continues to report that Archuleta County has had two deaths among COVID cases, while the CDPHE reports Archuleta County has three.
Over half of the county’s total population (51 percent) had received at least one dose of a vaccine as of Wednesday, with 48 percent of the population having completed a vaccine series.
Of the eligible population (those 12 and older), 58 percent has received at least one dose, while 55 percent have completed a vaccine series.
SJBPH announced last week that cases of the Delta variant were identified as part of the ongoing outbreak at the Pagosa Springs Walmart.
On June 23, SJBPH confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Pagosa Springs Walmart, with five employees having tested positive at that time.
As of July 7, Devine reported that outbreak had grown to 13 individuals.
An outbreak is defined by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as five or more cases associated with a single facility in a 14-day period.
Devine explained that an outbreak remains active until 28 days pass with no new associated cases.
The outbreak was first identified on June 12, SJBPH reported in a press release on June 30.
Devine told The SUN Wednesday two of the cases were in vaccinated individuals, with the rest in unvaccinated individuals and in individuals whose vaccination status was unknown.
The state’s outbreak information is available at: https://covid19.colorado.gov/covid19-outbreak-data.
In addition to local providers continuing to offer vaccines, multiple vaccine clinics offering both the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson are again on the calendar that will offer vaccine incentives while supplies last.
The two-shot Pfizer vaccine is available to those 12 and older, and the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine to those 18 and older.
Devine noted that those looking to have their school-age, vaccine-eligible children fully vaccinated before the start of the next school year should begin the process now since the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses and it takes six weeks to have full protection once the vaccine series begins.
The Jogan Health Mobile Unit will be set up at Pagosa Springs High School, 800 S. 8th St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, July 15, and next Thursday, July 22.
A mobile unit will also be at the Catholic Parish Hall on Lewis Street today and on July 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On July 16 and 18, the mobile unit will be at the East Side Market, located on the east end of town, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On July 17, the mobile unit will be at the Pagosa Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On July 21, the unit will be at Pagosa Brewing Company, 118 N. Pagosa Blvd., from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
A unit will also be at the Turkey Springs Trading Post, located at 11497 U.S. 160, on July 21, from 3 to 6 p.m.
Walk-ins are welcome at all of the clinics, though appointments are preferred.
Minors must have a signed parental consent form, which can be completed online when registering or at the clinic.
For more information on the vaccines, area vaccine providers or area vaccine clinics (including making an appointment or seeing others that have been scheduled), visit: https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/.
For more information about vaccine types, safety and eligibility, call (877) 268-2926. To speak to SJBPH call handlers, call (970) 247-5702.
Testing available locally
Testing continues to be available through multiple providers, and SJBPH provides free COVID-19 testing in partnership with COVIDCheck Colorado from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday behind the Pagosa Springs Medical Center building at 95 S. Pagosa Blvd.
For more information on COVID-19 testing and more, visit: https://sjbpublichealth.org.