Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes had a word for local businesses concerning the recent change in the state’s mask mandate recently announced by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
“The governor kind a made a stupid decision to say that if 80% of the people are vaccinated in an indoor setting, you don’t have to wear masks. We’ve been preached to for years and years about HIPAA violations and you’re not allowed to ask somebody anything medical and yet here they’re basically asking us to violate HIPPA laws. I am encouraging our businesses in this county ... just don’t fall into that trap,” said Suppes.
Polis stated on Sunday that masks wearing for inside with groups of 10 or more are no longer required to wear masks if at least 80% of the group is vaccinated against COVID-19.
Suppes also thanked local Colorado Mesa University for not requiring vaccinations at the Grand Junction college. His remarks came during a COVID-19 update given by the county’s public information officer at Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting.
Darnell Place-Wise reported the latest county COVID-19 numbers, latest vaccination numbers, vaccination clinics updates and the county’s vaccination survey during the meeting.
As of Tuesday, May 4, Delta County’s total positive COVID-19 cases is 2,673; 14 active; 2,598 recovered; 61 deaths and three hospitalizations. The one week positivity rate is down to 1.69% and the one week positive case count is 14 individuals.
Vaccine updates as of April 29 shows that individuals the county’s most vulnerable population is well vaccinated — ages 65-74 have the highest vaccination percentage at 74.63% followed by 75-84 at 63.35%; 85 plus at 49.52% and 55-64 at 44.25%.
In the ongoing effort to move away from larger vaccination events the health department conducted a walk up Johnson and Johnson clinic from 1 p.m. -3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4.
Place-Wise said the state will send a vaccine bus on Sunday, May 8, to the Old Chaco/City Market building across from St. Michael’s Church from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
“They are trying to get individuals who are vaccine hesitant from the Spanish speaking community. It is the Moderna vaccine so they would have to come back and do the second dose,” Place-Wise said.
The health department will host a second walk up vaccine clinic May 14 from 3:30 p.m – 6:30 p.m possibly using either the Johnson and Johnson and/or Moderna vaccines. Place-Wise said the state is ramping up the J&J vaccine after a brief pause.
County municipalities could receive easier access to vaccinations. Place-Wise said the health department is considering using a mobile approach for vaccination distribution.
“It would be easier for people just to walk up instead of making an appointment or driving here or driving to Hotchkiss,” she said, adding that the mobile option could start as soon as next week.
In addition, the health department is considering placing a tent between the library and health department for walk-up vaccinations in Delta. There are also plans to reach out to large employers to help them with vaccination needs.
Place-Wise said some employers are not giving employees time off to get the vaccine or for the potential side-effects that might arise. She stated that by law employers must give up to four hours off for a vaccine and additional time in the event of significant side effects.
With a number of colleges requiring student vaccinations, Delta County School District is working with the county on helping seniors get the vaccine. Place-Wise said the clinic will most likely take place through The Kidz Clinic.
The Pfizer vaccine is scheduled to be available in the next week or so for children 12 -15. Place-Wise said parents can make the decision if they’d like to have their child vaccinated before the next school year.
Place-Wise also shared new information on the district’s quarantine policy changing for fully vaccinated teachers.
“Individuals who are fully vaccinated with both doses and are two weeks past their second vaccination don’t need to quarantine anymore if they are exposed. So, the school district wasn’t aware of that ... with outbreaks continuing to happen in our schools teachers were getting quarantined. It’s not necessary for them to do that ... teachers who are fully vaccinated don’t need to do that any longer,” she told commissioners.
The county’s vaccination survey on social media had a total of 293 respondents. Place-Wise said of 291 respondents 79.4% said they had received the vaccine with 20.6% stating they had not received the vaccine.
Only 60 persons responded to the question: Do you plan on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? A majority 83.35% said ‘No’ with only 16.7% responding “Yes.”
When asked why they had not received the vaccine, 65% said they didn’t feel there had been enough testing to ensure its safety. The survey also revealed that respondents weren’t open to making appointments for the vaccine even if offered after working hours, on the weekends or via a drive-thru option.
“As I mentioned before vaccine hesitancy is very real here in Delta County,” said Place-Wise, adding that Mesa County is reporting its “second wave” of COVID-19 cases.
“I hope that we don’t experience that given the mobility that we have between Delta and Mesa County,” Place-Wise told commissioners.