Pitkin County records 5th death due to COVID; victim was fully vaccinated | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County records 5th death due to COVID; victim was fully vaccinated

The person died over the weekend and more information is forthcoming, officials said Tuesday

Public health authorities announced Pitkin County’s fifth COVID-19-related death Tuesday since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to a news release.

The release, however, revealed no details about the person, when they died or anything else about the fatality. Public Health Director Jordana Sabella said Tuesday what was released was the only information she could give out about the death.

Pitkin County Commissioner Greg Poschman, who also chairs the county Board of Health, announced the death Tuesday the commissioners’ regular weekly work session.

“The sad news is there’s a new fatality in our community due to COVID,” he said.

Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock told commissioners the victim was an older person who was fully vaccinated, and later said it happened in the last day or two. He said further details would be forthcoming, though it wasn’t clear Tuesday who would be releasing those details.

Pitkin County Coroner Steve Ayers said Tuesday his office does not handle COVID-19 deaths, so laws requiring him to identify people who die in Pitkin County do not apply. Dave Ressler, Aspen Valley Hospital CEO, said Tuesday he also could not release details of the death because of patient privacy, though he confirmed that it occurred during the weekend.

As it has across the state and the country, the delta variant is causing COVID-19 cases to reach peaks last seen during the winter. For example, the incidence rate in the county was nine times higher on Sept. 7 this year as it was on Sept. 7, 2020 — 28 versus 253, Peacock said. The county’s incidence rate remained at 253 on Tuesday, according to online county COVID-19 dashboards.

Pitkin County has logged 56 cases in the past seven days, including 45 residents and 11 out of county cases, according to the dashboards. In addition, the rate of fully vaccinated residents testing positive for the virus rose to 221 since April 1, which accounts for 1.5% of the number of fully vaccinated residents.

Pitkin County epidemiologist Josh Vance has said the county is experiencing an abnormally high rate of positive cases involving fully vaccinated residents. The rate was around 65% earlier this month, though reasons for the high breakthrough rate are not yet clear, Vance has said.

Despite the latest death in the county, public health officials have emphasized that the best way to avoid serious symptoms and death is to get vaccinated. Nearly 74% of the new COVID-19 cases in Colorado, 83% of the hospitalizations and 80% of deaths involve unvaccinated residents, Peacock said Tuesday.

As of Monday, Pitkin County has had 2,918 positive cases since the pandemic started in March 2020, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

The last coronavirus-related death in the county occurred Dec. 26, when a 94-year-old man died of severe hypoxic respiratory failure after contracting COVID-19. The first person in Pitkin County to die of COVID-19 was John Maloney, who was also 94 years old when he died in March 2020.

Neighboring Garfield County has recorded 57 COVID deaths and 7,101 cases as of Tuesday, while Eagle County has recorded 30 deaths and 7,429 cases, according to the counties’ data.

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