Aspen Valley Hospital nearly back to normal as omicron wave wanes in Pitkin County |

Aspen Valley Hospital nearly back to normal as omicron wave wanes in Pitkin County

Aspen Valley Hospital returned to near-normal status Thursday, as local COVID-19 case counts and incidence rates continued to decline, according to online data and a local official.

AVH CEO Dave Ressler said current COVID-19 numbers “absolutely” indicate omicron is on the wane in Pitkin County, with hospital visits by virus patients down significantly over the past week or so.

“I think it’s good news,” Ressler told the Times on Thursday. “And I think there’s a story to tell as well around how well the community fared during the omicron surge. Ultimately, from a hospital standpoint, … we really came through it well.”

As of Tuesday, the seven-day incidence rate in Pitkin County was down to 274 per 100,000 people, the lowest it’s been since Dec. 16, according to Pitkin County’s online COVID-19 dashboard. The county logged 52 new cases of COVID-19 in the seven-day period ending Tuesday, with 48 residents testing positive and four out-of-county cases.

That’s the lowest local case counts since Dec. 20, according to the dashboard.

On Jan. 24, Pitkin County saw 180 new cases of COVID-19 in the preceding seven-day period, while the seven-day incidence rate that date was 1,036, according to the dashboard.

Local COVID-19 numbers and AVH visits by COVID patients have declined quickly and precipitously in the past 10 to 14 days, according to Ressler and the online data.

With previous COVID-19 variant waves, Ressler said the hospital took it slower in terms of easing status levels, which include the number of hospital employees out sick with the virus, the number of daily COVID-19 cases seen at the hospital and the facility’s ability to transfer patients in need of a higher level of care. This time, the numbers are declining so quickly, they made the change sooner.

“There’s no reason to believe (the transmission rate) won’t continue to fall and stay this way even though it’s only been a week or so in this more comfortable position,” he said.

The hospital is currently under the yellow or “cautious” flag when it comes to employees out with the virus, with six employees sick as of Thursday, Ressler said. AVH was in the green or “comfortable” category as of Thursday in terms of ability of transfer for the sickest patients and the number of hospital admissions and emergency room visits by COVID patients.

AVH has not had a COVID-19 admission since last weekend, he said.

“We did not end up with a lot of hospitalizations or patients requiring transfer (during the omicron wave),” Ressler said. “We did have a couple admissions but we were not overwhelmed.”

The ebbing omicron wave is likely part of the reason Pitkin County’s Board of Health called a special meeting Feb. 10 to reconsider its four-month-old indoor mask mandate and five-month old mandate requiring children to wear masks in school.

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