Montrose County case rate 5th highest in state (main)

Jalita Sanderson, RN, at work in the Montrose Regional Health medical/surgical unit Thursday evening. (Brad Wiesner, Montrose Regional Hospital)

Montrose County has the fifth highest COVID-19 case rate in Colorado as of Thursday, Nov. 4, with 672 cases per 100,000 residents.

Among the 64 counties in the state, the top five with the highest seven-day incident rates are Baca County (1,035.7 per 100,000), Rio Blanco County (841.8 per 100,000), Kiowa County (821.4 per 100,000) and Montezuma County (750.3 per 100,000).

The Centers for Disease Control, however, reports an incident rate of 795.17 cases per 100,000.

The discrepancies can likely be explained by reporting delays, said Brian Spencer, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Education. The CDPHE maintains COVID-19 case data in the state’s reportable disease registry, the Colorado Electronic Disease Reporting System (CEDRS), which sources the state’s daily published case counts.

These case counts include all confirmed and probable COVID cases reported to CEDRS through the end of the previous day, but all data published is recalculated daily to account for updated case information. Because of this, Spencer noted that case counts for previous days are expected to change due to ongoing updates to reports.

“The difference between the cumulative number of cases reported from one day to the next will rarely match the number of cases with a report date of that day,” Spencer said. “This difference in methods likely accounts for some of the differences between CDPHE’s published data and other sources of national data.”

National media outlets such as the New York Times often pull information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where COVID-related data is submitted. Brian explained that there is typically a lag between the time the state submits the data to the CDC and the time it takes the CDC to analyze the reports.

The CDC data tracker also refers people to their most “relevant health department website” for complete and up-to-date reports, such as state or local health departments.

The discrepancy described by Spencer would likely explain why Montrose County is listed by the New York Times as the 11th highest in COVID case rates in the country as of Thursday. Among the top 11 spots in the ranking, Montrose is the second most populous community, second only to San Juan County, NM.

As case counts and hospital capacity surge throughout the state, the Colorado Hospital Association responded on Wednesday to recent concerns about rising hospital capacity by activating Tier 3, the highest tier, of the Combined Hospital Transfer Center operation in order to manage patient transfers on a statewide scope.

This is the first time in the pandemic that Colorado hospitals have taken this step.

Tier 1 was first re-activated in August when COVID hospitalizations began seeing an upward trend, a direction that has continued to rise and strain hospitals statewide.

While death rates remain about the same, case rates and the number of hospitalized COVID patients have risen exponentially, placing Montrose County at severe risk for infection, particularly for unvaccinated individuals.

Montrose County case rate 5th highest in state (2)

Montrose County has the fifth highest case rate in Colorado at 672.7 cases per 100,000 people as of Thursday Nov. 4. (CDPHE)

“In Montrose County, 54.8% of people age 12 and up have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. We have long seen a county level correlation between high vaccination rates and lower case rates,” Spencer said of the county’s low vaccine rate.

“Vaccines are the safest, most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help avoid the worst outcomes — severe illness, hospitalization and death — among those who do become infected. We encourage Coloradans to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to find out if they are eligible for an additional or booster dose.”

50.2% of Montrose County is fully vaccinated — 18,335 residents fully vaccinated out of the 42,815 people in the community.

The county averages 49 new cases per day, +53% from the average two weeks ago, according to the CDC. At least one in seven people have been infected since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

With 340 new cases between Thursday Oct. 28 – Wednesday, Nov. 3 and 51 new cases between Wednesday and Thursday, the county’s total case count since March 2020 comes to 5,829 (+269 since Friday Oct. 29) as of Thursday, Nov. 4.

There have been 11 deaths among cases (people who passed away within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test) and 12 deaths due to COVID based on death certificate review since Sept. 15, Spencer confirmed.

Montrose Regional Health COVID data

MRH reported caring for 16 COVID patients among a total of 42 hospital patients on Thursday, Nov. 4. Of the COVID patients, seven were in the ICU and nine were on the med/surg unit. One COVID patient had been admitted in the past 24 hours, according to Leann Tobin, the hospital’s spokesperson.

As of Thursday, the emergency department had 53 patients from the previous day and 13 total COVID-19 related emergency department visits. There were two deaths since the hospital’s last report on Monday, Nov. 1.

The hospital’s Nov. 1 report cited 16 total COVID patients among a total of 36 hospital patients. Of the COVID patients, eight were in the ICU, seven were on the med/surg unit and one was in the acute rehabilitation unit. Three COVID patients had been admitted in the past 24 hours.

The emergency department reported a total of 55 visits from the previous day, six of which were COVID-19 related visits. There were three deaths since the hospital’s last report on Friday, Oct. 29. MRH reported one death on Oct. 29.

Resources:Montrose County Public Health: https://bit.ly/3yZvcnp

New York Times data: https://nyti.ms/3BLWpM2

Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

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