COVID numbers slowly dropping in Pitkin County, though masks aren’t going anywhere

As fall takes root and the summer tourist onslaught wanes, so too does Pitkin County COVID-19 incidence rate, a county official said Tuesday.

The rate dropped from 202 on Friday to 163 per 100,000 people Monday, according to Pitkin County’s online COVID dashboard, while the number of cases among residents fell from 36 on Friday to 29 on Monday. The incidence rate is still within the Centers for Disease Control’s “high” metric, and Aspen Valley Hospital remains under the yellow “cautious” flag, but the numbers are decreasing, said Jon Peacock, county manager.

“The trends are looking better,” he told county commissioners Tuesday at their weekly work session. “With less activity and less mobility, we’re starting to see the incidence rates come down.”

Still, the county has a long way to go before the indoor mask mandate — imposed Sept. 16 by the board of health — goes away. That’s because the incidence rate must go south of 50 per 100,000 people for 21 consecutive days before it can be rescinded.

“I just want the public to understand that masks will be with us for a while,” Commissioner Patti Clapper said.

Pitkin County has logged a total of 36 new cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days, including seven out of county cases, according to the online dashboard. Since April 1, the county has logged 273 positive cases among full-vaccinated residents, which accounts for 1.8% of the total number of vaccinated residents.

Public health officials emphasize, however, that getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid serious illness and death.

Conversations about what will happen this winter are on-going, Peacock said, though capacity restrictions are likely to be triggered by hospital capacity threats. The public will have a chance to weigh-in when those winter metrics are debated and determined, he said.

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