Pitkin County receives most vaccine yet this week | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County receives most vaccine yet this week

Almost 1,400 doses will help finish inoculations for 70-older residents and move to next phase including child care workers

Aspen Valley Hospital clinical pharmacist Kelly Atkinson organizes the empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in the command unit trailer set up next to the vaccination tent in the Benedict Music Tent parking lot in Aspen on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. To keep track of the empty vials, the pharmacists labeled them with individual numbers. Before the vaccine is diluted, the unused vial of vaccine looks identical to the vials after the doses have been taken out. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Pitkin County received nearly 1,400 doses of vaccine this week, the most since the vaccination campaign began last month, an official said Tuesday.

Pitkin County’s public health staff initially thought they’d receive only 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine, Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock told commissioners Tuesday during their regular weekly work session. But the state then said the county also would be getting 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which actually translates into 1,170 doses because an extra dose can be squeezed out of each of those vials, he said.

“We got a nice Monday morning surprise,” Peacock said. “This week is our biggest week yet in terms of vaccination distribution.”

The additional doses means the county will likely be able to finish the vaccination phase that includes about 30 more moderate risk health care workers and between 400 and 500 more residents 70 years old and older, he said. Public health staff also will be able to make solid progress on the next phase, which includes about 730 early child care workers and about 1,250 residents between 65 and 69 years old.

“So this is really going to make a huge impact,” Peacock told commissioners. “It made a big difference for public health staff. Spirits were pretty high.”

Not including the first phase of high-risk health care workers, the county will have vaccinated 3,012 residents with their first dose and 1,272 with their second doses by the time the latest batch is meted out, he said.

The doses will be administered Friday at the county’s vaccination center at the Benedict Music Tent, Peacock said.

The large number of doses is in stark contrast to recent weeks when the county received 100 doses one week, 200 another and none on a third.

Jane Dinsmoor, center left, and Bill Dinsmoor receive their first round of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine from Nurses Erica Purcell, left, and Tiffany Poss, right, during the first day of the drive through vaccinations for those 70 and older in the Benedict Music Tent parking lot in Aspen on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. The vaccinations are for those with an appointment only. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

In other COVID-19 related news Tuesday:

• The state public health department has again changed the COVID-19 dial and criteria for color-coded restriction levels, though details remain murky, Peacock said.

The state now will mainly look at a county’s incidence rate — the rate per 100,000 people — when determining which restriction level to assign a county. The state will also rely on a seven-day incidence rate rather than a 14-day incidence rate.

However, it’s not clear how long a county must be in the more restrictive level metric before the state moves it to that more restrictive level, Peacock said. For example, if a county’s incidence rate is in Orange for one day, it’s not known if the state move it to that level of restriction immediately, he said.

“We’re seeking clarity on how moving to a more restrictive level will work,” Peacock said. “Hopefully we’ll have more clarity by the board of health meeting (Thursday).”

According to the latest Colorado COVID-19 Dial Framework: “The process of moving to a more restrictive level typically begins with a consultation with CDPHE if a county is out of compliance with any of the three metrics for a two-week period. This two-week period is a grace period. If compliance is restored in that timeframe, no further action is needed. If compliance is not restored, then a consultation between the county and the state must take place to determine next steps.“

The process for moving to a less restrictive levels is clearer. Counties that meet the less restrictive incidence rate metric for a week will be moved to the lesser level within two days, Peacock said.

Members of the board of health will decide Thursday whether to align with the newly jiggered state COVID dial or remain more restrictive. If they do adopt the new state dial metrics and Pitkin County’s recent incidence rate trends hold, the county would be in Yellow restrictions, which allows 50% capacity for indoor restaurant dining.

Commissioners on Tuesday supported that course of action.

The state also has said it will outline specific criteria for counties with less than 30,000 residents, though that also has not yet been released, he said.

• Pitkin County has not yet received confirmation that three recent positive COVID-19 cases were one of the variants feared to be more contagious, Peacock said.

Initial testing last week showed anomalies that indicated the three cases may be a variant from the U.K., California, Brazil or South Africa, though follow-up test results still are not available.

Samples from all positive COVID-19 cases in the county are being sent to the state public health lab for testing to keep an eye on the presence of the variants here, he said.


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