Eagle County sees slight case rise after Labor Day
With two new variables — school starting with in-person instruction and the Labor Day holiday — Eagle County health officials figured the coming weeks may bring an uptick in local COVID-19 cases.
And while the local numbers remain largely stable, the number of new cases did inch up over the past week, according to Eagle County Public Health and Environment Director Heath Harmon. Harmon delivered the weekly COVID-19 report to the Eagle Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday.
Eagle County remains in the green, or comfortable section of it’s COVID-19 risk meter. During the past 14 days, there have been 32 new COVID-19 cases reported locally. However, Harmon noted that 20 of those 32 cases were reported during the past seven days and that 47% of the new cases were among community members age 30 and younger.
“That is an early indicator that we are seeing an increase from activity around the Labor Day holiday,” he said.
Incidents of serious disease in Eagle County remain low with only two COVID-19 local hospitalizations over the past 14 days. Currently, 5% of the tests administered come back positive and the average testing turnaround time is less than four days.
While most of the local COVID-19 indicators remain stable, there is one trend that hit a record high this week. In the past 14 days, only 16% of the new cases could identify a contact with a known case as the exposure. But 78% of those new cases could not identify a known exposure. That statistic indicates people are contracting COVID-19 through community spread, not close or household contact.
“That number is higher than what we have been seeing since we began tracking it,” Harmon said. “We are definitely starting to see a little more transmission in our community.”
The next couple of weeks will determine if it’s enough spread to move the county’s risk meter needle. Harmon noted it’s a tricky thing to be in the green phase of the risk meter. People take it as a sign they can relax precautions, which then leads to more exposure and increased risk.
“As we think about where we are in the green phase right now … for the duration until we have a vaccine in place it is going to be really important to adhere to the five commitments and especially to wearing masks,” Harmon said. “Low transmission doesn’t indicate that masks will be gone, not until we have a vaccine.”
In closing, Harmon noted that people who have gotten used to referring to the county’s COVID-19 risk meter each week will soon see a new graphic. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is set to unveil a new statewide risk meter and instead of the county’s three-phase model, it is a five-phase graphic. Harmon said it is similar to the familiar wildfire danger meter and noted that county officials consulted with state officials to develop the graphic. After the state debuts its meter, Harmon said the county will switch to the state’s format for the local risk meter.