As the COVID-19 pandemic nears the one-year mark in Jeffco, the new executive director of Jefferson County Public Health says the situation is trending in the right direction with new cases …
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As the COVID-19 pandemic nears the one-year mark in Jeffco, the new executive director of Jefferson County Public Health says the situation is trending in the right direction with new cases continuing to decrease while more and more residents receive a vaccine.
In her first COVID-19 update to the county commissioners, new JCPH Executive Director Dawn Comstock said on Feb. 23 that the average number of new COVID-19 cases the county is currently seeing in a seven-day period has fallen below 100 per 100,000 county residents. On Feb. 16, that number was 88.8 cases per 100,000 residents,
That's important, Comstock said, because measuring 100 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents over seven days is one of thresholds the county needs to meet to move into Level Blue, the second least restrictive level on the state's current COVID-19 dial.
Under Level Blue, the capacity of restaurants would now be capped at 175 instead of 50, although they would still not be able to exceed 50% of their overall capacity. The restrictions for some other businesses and settings would also change.
The state also recommends that schools in Level Blue counties conduct classes in person, while in-person learning is merely “suggested” for those counties in Level Yellow.
To move into Level Blue, Jeffco would also need to see seven consecutive days of stable or declining hospitalizations.
“Our hospitalizations have been stable for several days now,” said Comstock. “A few more days and that metric will also allow us to be in Blue.”
The county's current case positivity rate of 3.5% is less than the 5% positivity rate needed to quality for Level Blue. Comstock said that if current trends continue, the county would likely be eligible to move into Level Blue during the first week of March.
“We are very excited that these numbers are going in the direction that we would like to see them headed,” said Comstock, who went on to say that the county's ability to remain in Level Blue would then depend on Jeffco residents continuing to follow mask wearing and social distancing protocols.
County nears 70-and-over vaccine milestone
After a slow start, Jefferson County's efforts to vaccinate those county residents age 70 and over are continuing to gain steam.
Comstock said that as of Feb. 22, 69.4% of Jefferson County residents age 70 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine. That meant the county was just shy of Gov. Jared Polis' goal for counties to vaccinate at least 70% of their 70-and-over residents by the end of February.
Comstock said that Jefferson County also has a higher percentage of its 70-and-over population than the state as a whole, although the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has indicated to JCPH that it expects to meet the 70% threshold by the end of the month.
opening up vaccinations to essential workers such as grocery store employees as well as people with two or more conditions that have been deemed “high risk” by the state.
However, Comstock said that JCPH will continue to focus its vaccination efforts on those 70-and-over residents, health care workers and first-responders who have still not been vaccinated, while leaving other populations to hospitals and other vaccine providers.
“We still have 70-and-over population out there that are anxious to get the vaccine, are trying to get the vaccine and are just having trouble getting that vaccination appointment scheduled,” she said.
Following Comstock's presentation, Jeffco Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper asked residents to continue to follow protocols.
“If we continue to exercise those precautions it really makes a big difference for our businesses, for our schools and for our community,” she said.
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