By Lisa Young
This story was updated November 24 at 8:00 a.m.
By the time this story hits the newsstands, Delta County will have reached 500 positive COVID-19 cases. The county was at 499 on Monday evening prior to the print deadline. With the rapid rise of cases, the county officially moved to the yellow or “concern” phase of the new state COVID-19 before the weekend.
The change made by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) followed several weeks of rising COVID-19 cases in the county. County COVID-19 numbers updated on Friday at 8 a.m. revealed 27 new cases, 420 positive cases and seven deaths.
Late Friday afternoon, a county press release updated the numbers to 425 positive cases and sadly reported that a male aged 75-84 passed away bringing the total COVID-19 deaths in the county to eight.
“There are questions as to why we didn’t move to a more restrictive phase,” said Robbie LeValley, county administrator, in the press release. “Delta County is charged with not only the health and safety of all residents, but the mental and economic welfare of Delta County, as well. We know full well that we will be moving to a more restrictive phase of the dial in the coming days, and wanted to give all Delta County businesses an opportunity to plan and adjust.”
Monday evening county COVID-19 numbers teetered on the brink of 500 cases with 34 new cases in the past 24 hours, 220 active cases, 271 recovered and three hospitalizations. Two week positivity rate was 9.66% with a two week case rate of 692.91 per 100,000 persons up 9.6%. The two week positive count was 216.
The new Safer-at-Home — Level 2 “concern” placement on the dial for Delta County is determined by its two week case rate; two week test percent positivity and the days of declining or stable hospitalizations.
The county’s latest two week positivity rate and the two week case rate are in the “red” or severe risk category on the new state dial while the two week positivity test rate remains in the “yellow” or concern category. With the higher numbers, county officials are calling for more community testing.
Montrose County moved to “high risk” or orange on the dial last week while Mesa County moved into the “severe risk” or red on the dial. The state’s newest dial, meant to slow down the process of moving towards full “lockdowns” added a new “red” or severe risk category to the Safer-at-Home level and a new “purple” or extreme risk category to the Stay-at-Home level.
“It’s more important than ever to get tested should you show any symptoms what-so-ever, or have been exposed to an individual who has tested positive. Testing and quarantining or isolating, coupled with making a concerted effort to keep your distance from those outside of your household, wearing a mask and being vigilant on handwashing are key to helping us slow the spread of this virus,” said Karen O’Brien, Delta County public health director.
Community test sites are Delta County Health Department by appointment only Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Residents can also get tested at North Fork EMS in Hotchkiss. Appointments are Mondays and Wednesdays only, starting at 9 a.m.
New COVID-19 Restrictions
According to the health department some of the changes to restrictions include but are not limited to:
• Indoor dining 50% capacity up to 50 people.
• Bars that don’t serve food must be closed.
• Offices limited to 50% capacity, with remote work strongly encouraged.
• Gyms/indoor recreation limited to 25% capacity or up to 50 people.
• Entertainment and indoor events/meetings 50% capacity up to 100 people with 6 ft. of physical distancing between parties.
• Outdoor events limited to 50% capacity or 175 people (whichever is fewer).
• Childcares may remain open with standard ratios.
The health department recently began a video series aimed at educating citizens on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard by Greg Rajnowski, environmental health deputy director. A link to the video: Delta County COVID-19 Dashboard Overview can be found at the bottom of the county’s dashboard.
Delta County Memorial Hospital Update
Delta County Memorial Hospital’s (DCMH) biggest concern is staffing and its workforce, as well as the availability and access to critical-care beds in Delta and around the region, according to the county press release.
As regional and area hospitals become full, there is a very real chance of hospitals transferring overflow patients to other hospitals. Currently, DCMH has limited critical-care beds and may be asked to exchange patients if other hospitals do not have room for a transfer. DCMH is working closely with regional partners on bed capacities around the Western Slope. The hospital will keep its primary focus on the residents of Delta County.
In an effort to stop employee to employee spread of infection at the hospital, administration has asked all employees that can work from home to do so. DCMH primary care clinics have increased telehealth visits and continue to see patients that can be seen in-person by a provider. Providers are working every other day with their cohort or team to avoid cross-contamination, the press release stated.
“Remember, it is important that you do not delay care if you are in need. Your local hospitals and healthcare providers are still open and a safe place to receive care,” said Jody Roeber, DCMH chief clinical officer.
Delta County School District Update
Delta County School District (DCSD) continues to work with the health department to monitor COVID cases within the school district when needed to quarantine students, staff, cohorts, and/or schools to maintain the health and safety of school communities, states the county press release.
CDPHE has specific guidelines for school or district closures that are followed closely. If cases continue to rise within the school district, additional mitigation strategies may be implemented.
Because of the growing number of COVID cases in Delta County and the state, the Delta County Independent has closed its office to the public starting Monday with plans to reopen in January. Any questions, please contact us at 970-874-4421.