COVID-19 outbreak identified at local school

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    By Randi Pierce
    Staff Writer

    A new outbreak of COVID-19 was confirmed in Archuleta County Wednesday at Pagosa Peak Open School.

    The outbreak was first reported by San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) Wednesday, with SJBPH Communications Director/COVID-19 Public Information Officer Chandler Griffin reporting that, as of Wednesday, four students and one staff member had tested positive.

    The first case was reported on Aug. 13, Griffin noted.

    “We’ve been doing contact tracing, been doing our investigation,” Griffin said, explaining that all cases were put in isolation and those identified as unvaccinated close contacts put on quarantine.

    Except in congregate settings, an outbreak is identified as five cases associated with a single facility in a 14-day period.

    Griffin noted sequencing of COVID-positive samples can take up to two weeks, leaving it still unknown if the Delta variant is involved in the outbreak.

    “I think as community members, we’re all very interested in allowing our children to have good opportunity for in-person learning, and the more that we do to limit spread of infection as schools are opening, the better the opportunities for kids will be,” said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon.

    Griffin noted Pagosa Peak Open School is the first school outbreak of the school year in SJBPH’s jurisdiction.

    The state’s outbreak information is available at: https://covid19.colorado.gov/covid19-outbreak-data.

    Local numbers

    Archuleta County’s COVID-19 case incidence rate is now below both the state’s and nation’s.

    According to SJBPH, Archuleta County’s seven-day cumulative incidence rate was 150.0 cases per 100,000 people — down from 171.4 a week prior.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado’s seven-day incidence rate was 182.7 Wednesday — up from 148.4 a week prior.

    The U.S.’s one-week rate is now 268, down from 314.7 a week prior.

    As of Wednesday, SJBPH listed 1,285 total cases of confirmed COVID-19 among Archuleta County residents since late March 2020, up from 1,264 a week prior. 

    The agency showed Archuleta County was at 6 percent positivity Wednesday.

    SJBPH reports that Archuleta County has had three deaths among COVID cases.

    Jollon noted that hospitals across the Four Corners and Western Slope continue to experience difficulties with regard to capacity and transferring people for appropriate care.

    Vaccinations continue

    As of Wednesday, 54 percent of Archuleta County’s total population had received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 51 percent of the population having completed a vaccine series. 

    Of the eligible population (those 12 and older), 61 percent have received at least one dose, while 58 percent have completed a vaccine series.

    Immunocompromised individuals are currently eligible for vaccine booster shots now, Griffin reiterated, and SJBPH is planning and are prepared should booster shots be approved at the federal level for other populations.

    A list of vaccination clinics, including links to register, are available on SJBPH’s website.

    Griffin and Jollon acknowledged that much remains unknown about the anticipated announcement regarding the availability of third-dose booster shots for the general public.

    Griffin added that SJBPH will be ready to accommodate demand when a formal announcement is made.

    State launches vaccine breakthrough dashboard

    On Wednesday, the state announced the launch of its new COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough data dashboard.

    That dashboard is available at: https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine-breakthrough.

    Among other things, that dashboard includes information on Colorado cases, hospitalizations and deaths in both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, as well as the median age for those affected in each category. 

    randi@pagosasun.com