In a recent Delta County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Don Suppes’ frustration with what appears to be an unfair equibilte COVID-19 vaccine delivery system boiled over. Suppes stated that he believes the distribution by county looks to be politically motivated. In his opinion, it appears that the counties that vote in support of Polis and his party are receiving a disproportionate amount of vaccines.
Suppes, in an interview with the DCI, pointed out that Delta County ranks 8th in the state in percentage of people who are 70-plus years of age, according to data compiled by District 54 Rep. Matt Soper’s office. Population percentage of 70+ is 19.34% for Delta County; Montrose County ranks 18th with 17.06%. Yet it appears that Delta and Montrose are being underserved in doses compared to counties such as Eagle County.
Suppes asked retired CPA Terry O’Brien from Hotchkiss, who has been maintaining his own COVID-19 dashboard tracking the number of cases by a variety of demographics, to do an analysis of the vaccine distributed by county compared to the voting record.
According to O’Brien’s analysis — which includes 70+ population and medical and frontline workers — Delta, a red-voting county, has been undersubscribed by 4,432 doses ranking them tenth in inequity of doses shipped. Montrose County, a red voting county, has been undersubscribed by 4,042 doses. Ranking Montrose County as 12th in inequity of doses shipped. However leading this category are two blue counties. Arapahoe and Jefferson counties are at negative 48,897 and negative 37,227 respectively in inequity of doses shipped. Four out of the top 8 of undersubscribed counties are blue voting counties.
Of the top 12 of oversubscribed counties ten are blue voting counties and two are purple voting counties. The top two counties on the oversubscribed side are Adams and Denver counties. Adams County is showing an inequity of doses shipped at 76,907 to the plus side and Denver County is 49,307 as doses received over what their estimated phase 1A and 1B.1 demographics show they need. Eagle County comes in at 5th in oversubscribed. This analysis was compiled as of Feb. 9.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment dashboard, Delta County is within .02% of percentage of doses distributed versus county population. Montrose is within .09%. It’s unclear if the percentage reflects current phases of distribution.
So is there a discrepancy according to a county’s voting record? I would say it’s at best inconclusive, which is the same conclusion O’Brien drew. Accuracy of the numbers are skewed because some counties received more doses for various reasons, according to the CDPHE website. Some counties received a higher number of doses due to having a large provider in their county, who then shipped them to other providers outside of their county, or a county may host a large mass vaccination clinic serving many counties.
My conclusion from the data of the O’Brien report and the CDPHE dashboard is that tracking and reporting vaccine doses shipped and administered by county is not accurate. What we don’t know is whether vaccines shipped to pharmacies such as Walmart or Safeway are tracked on the state dashboard. What about those who receive vaccines from outside the county — for example the VA Hospital.
In early January, the Montrose Daily Press reported that approximately 50% of those eligible to receive the vaccine were opting out for various reasons. According to County Commissioner Chair Sue Hansen that is still a pretty accurate number. Delta County is seeing a higher percentage of participation at 70% plus.
I tested positive for COVID on Dec. 3, and it’s been a long recovery for me. I still experience symptoms such as fatigue, muscle soreness and joint pain. I know the disease affects people differently, but why risk it. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine please do. If not for any other reason than you don’t want to chance the long-term recovery that some, like me, are experiencing.