by Marissa Lorenz
As of Wednesday, October 14: Grand County’s – case count has reached a total of 125 resident cases with a two-week case count of 44 new cases. The two-week case count peaked at 52 new cases on October 13, just below the threshold for prompting assessment of renewed Stay-at-Home orders.
There are currently two people hospitalized as a result of coronavirus-related concerns, one of whom is hospitalized in Grand County. Four others were formerly hospitalized out-of-county and released.
There have been no deaths in Grand County caused by COVID-19 and only one death in which someone died with–but not because of–the virus.
There are 197 people currently under quarantine and isolation orders and 301 people who have been released from similar orders previously.
Geographic distribution of all cases, as of 10/9, was 41.6% in West Grand,33.6% in Granby, Grand Lake, and Hot Sulphur Springs, and 24.8% in the Fraser Valley.
Public Health to hire more staff
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Grand County Board of County Commissioners, Grand County Public Health Director Brene Belew-LaDue noted the continued increase in cases over the last two weeks and that Grand County was now in the Safer-at-Home level 3/high risk category. She stated that talks with the State were ongoing to discuss ways to best transition between various phases.
Belew-LaDue indicated the need to hire another contact tracer, indicating that the office had sent 203 quarantine notice letters in the last three weeks. The State has been providing additional resources, but a concern is that their staff do not know the local resources as well as a local staff member would.
The Director noted that while hospitalizations are still low, medical equipment and supplies were becoming increasingly necessary and challenging to obtain, such as supplemental oxygen for patients remaining in the Cliffview Assisted Living facility.
Medical Director pleads for caution
Grand County Public Health Medical Director Dr. Darcy Selenke spoke to Commissioners at the same meeting, saying, “I would really like to reframe how we view the pandemic and look at COVID.”
“We have wildfires,” she continued. “They’re our biggest threat. We cut the trees around our homes. We stop having campfires. We evacuate when we need to. We use all of those tools when that natural disaster comes to our town and when it affects us and we bring in resources. I would really like to ask every person to reframe the way they view the pandemic and look at it as a natural disaster.”
“Looking at contact tracing,” the Medical Director observed, “people are getting sick because they’re having gatherings, they’re going to work sick, and they’re not wearing their masks in public places.” Selenke finished by pointing out that resorts are scheduled to open in five weeks, “two full cycles of COVID-19 away,” and that their opening was critical to local economy.
She urged everyone to follow best practices and said, “We desperately need people to get on board. We’re in this for the long haul. This is what we’re dealing with. This is the disease. This is the amount of spread. This is what we have to be doing.”
New outbreak reported among first responders
One new outbreak was reported in the last week when four positive cases were confirmed among Grand Fire Protection District’s volunteer fire department, after which those individuals and all who had been in contact with them were put under quarantine.
“Grand Fire has been following the protocols and best practices put in place by GCPH since March,” stated Fire Chief Brad White. “We require masks in the station, keep daily temperature and symptom logs, and sanitize all surfaces and equipment frequently. But after eight months and an extremely busy fire season, it appears that one of our members was exposed and the virus worked its way through our resident program.”
Assistant Chief Ron Thurston added, “We have a response plan in place. We are working with Grand County Public Health and our mutual aid partners to prevent any further spread of the virus, while still responding to our community’s needs.”
Public Health is testing others possibly exposed and working on getting these first responders out into service again.
MP High School football program sent home under threat of exposure.
On October 13 families of students in the East Grand School District were notified that there had been “an exposure to COVID-19 with the Middle Park High School football team.”
District staff confirms that between 35 and 40 students and coaching and support staff were currently under quarantine orders until they have negative test results or are no longer infectious.