Montrose County is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, specifically the new Delta variant.
The most recent variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021, according to the CDC, but was initially identified in India in December 2020. The Delta variant is believed to spread more easily and faster than previous variants, leading to several case spikes throughout the country.
The CDC stated that the current authorized vaccines appear to be effective on this new variant, but scientists continue to study all known variants.
Montrose County has had 17 total Delta variant cases as of Friday July 23, according to Lisa Gallegos. Gallegos is the emergency preparedness coordinator and communicable disease specialist for Montrose County Public Health.
Currently Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) sources Montrose County’s COVID-19 data, but the county will be taking the task back in January, Gallegos confirmed.
Currently, Montrose Memorial Hospital has five COVID-19 patients, the EPC specialist said.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment numbersThe CDPHE reports under six different categories by county: public health orders, one and two week cumulative incidence rates, one and two week average positivity rates and the number of days with decreasing or stabilizing hospitalizations.
The cumulative incidence rate estimates the risk that someone could develop COVID-19 or a variant during a specified period of time (i.e. in one or two weeks’ time). The cumulative incidence rate is calculated as the number of new events or cases divided by the total population at risk for a specified period.
Montrose County has a reported one and two week cumulative incidence rate of 72 and 184 respectively, with an average one week positivity rate of 2.5% of the population.
Gallegos said she believes that the spike in cases is due to the increase in travel through the Montrose Regional Airport, as well as exposure incidents in the community.
“They’re not quarantining when exposed,” Gallegos said. “Some people who have been vaccinated get COVID-19 and they don’t feel the symptoms as much as they would have had they not been vaccinated. They think it’s okay to go out and that just spreads from one person to another, and Delta is more transmissible than the other one.”
The county is still waiting on the number of “repeat” COVID cases as the state is conducting the county’s contact tracing, but Gallegos said the CDPHE will inform her of any new information or outbreaks.
For now, the department only notifies the EPC specialist of new variant cases.
There is a wide gap between cases in vaccinated and unvaccinated people, according to COVID-19 dashboards across the state. While everyone is still at risk for contracting the Delta variant, data from the state COVID-19 reports indicate that unvaccinated people are experiencing higher rates of catching the virus.
For now, the county is encouraging citizens to get vaccinated and to stay home if they can.
Montrose residents can get tested for free in multiple locations around town, including the Recreation Center on Thursdays.
Providers like Peak Family Medicine, River Valley, Cedar Point Urgent Care and Trailhead also offer locations for COVID-19 testing.
“We also recommend to people that they continue to keep distance between them and wear their mask if they haven’t been vaccinated and they go into large crowds,” Gallegos noted, adding that people should remember to continue washing their hands to minimize the spread.
The county is also working on material for its website and the radio to encourage citizens to get vaccinated, but for now don’t have anything else planned for case mitigation.
The state is offering $100 gift cards to people getting vaccinated at the Walmart site on July 24 and 25 in Montrose, as well as on Monday, July 26 at the Walmart in Delta.