Head of Jefferson County Public Health’s (JCPH) Office of Pandemic Response Christine Billings gave an update on the County’s latest COVID stats during the Jan. 3 Wheat Ridge City Council meeting.
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Billings said with a base population of 586,579, Jeffco had an 18.8% positivity rate on a 7-day average as of Dec. 30.
“That means approximately one in five individuals who are testing for COVID-19 are testing positive,” she said. “This is not unexpected considering we are dealing with the Omicron variant. It is estimated that over 90% of the circulating virus in the state of Colorado can be attributed to Omicron.”
Billings said the strain is highly contagious and infectious, but Jeffco’s 14-day average hospitalization rate of 1.2 per 100,000 persons for Dec. 14-27 is encouraging.
Jeffco’s seven-day COVID-19 case counts as of Jan. 2 were 953.5 per 100,000 persons. According to Billings, that seven-day count greatly exceeds the highest number the county saw at the peak of the surge in Nov. 2020.
For seven-day case incidents as of Dec. 25, Billings said adults aged 20 or older accounted for 473.8 cases, while those aged 12 - 19 accounted for 422.3. Five to 11-year olds, who recently became eligible to receive the vaccine, accounted for 259 cases and children aged 0 - 4 made up 274.3 cases.
Billings said the positive amid all of the disease currently circulating through the county is that hospitalizations are on a slight decline, as of Dec. 30, compared to the steady climb the county saw from summer through early December.
In what she called “super-awesome news,” Billings said more than 80% of eligible Jefferson County residents (over age 5) have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Of those, she said 5.4% were only partially vaccinated.
Over 90% of Jeffco residents between the ages of 30 and 39 have been vaccinated.
There were 80 COVID-19 related deaths in Jefferson County in December 2021. There have been 1,172 deaths in the county since the beginning of the pandemic.
Isolation guidance, she said, has been confusing for everyone as it continues to evolve. The CDC recently shifted guidance due to Omicron taking over as the most prevalent strain. As of now, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, their day-zero starts on the day they first noticed the onset of symptoms (or on the day of their test if they were undergoing routine testing when they received the positive result). They need to isolate for five full days and can return to work or activities on day six if their symptoms have greatly improved and they have been fever-free without the use of medication for 24 hours. Those individuals must also continue to wear a mask for an additional five days when they are around other people.
“Quarantine gets a little more complicated,” she said. “The unvaccinated must quarantine for a full five days if determined to be a close-contact of someone with a positive diagnosis. They can return to work or activities with a mask on day six if they have not received a positive diagnosis. This guidance applies to individuals who have received only one dose of the vaccine as well.”
Fully vaccinated (two primary doses, or one Johnson and Johnson dose) individuals who are more than six-months removed from their final primary dose, but have not received a booster, must also quarantine for a full five days if determined to be a close contact. They can return to work on day six and need to mask for an additional five days. Vaccinated individuals still within the six-month window from receiving their second primary dose (or vaccinated individuals beyond the six months who have received a booster dose) do not need to quarantine, but are advised to mask for 10 days from the day of exposure. Those individuals are encouraged to test five days after exposure.
Billings said all of this information is subject to change as the CDC releases new or sector-specific guidance.
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