Grand keeps in line with state COVID restrictions

Grand County’s recent COVID-19 cases based on a one week and two week count are presented on the the county’s COVID monitoring dashboard.
Courtesy GCPH

Grand County will continue following the state’s lead with COVID-19 restrictions.

Public Health Director Abbie Baker explained to Grand County Commissioners on Tuesday that the county’s most recent public health order follows state guidance.

Earlier this month, Colorado got rid of its COVID-19 dial system and left most public health decisions up to local officials. Roughly 30 Colorado counties have decided to not implement facemask restrictions.

However, there are certain regulations from the state that remain. Facemasks must still be worn statewide in schools, public-facing state government facilities, health care settings, personal services, jails and care facilities. This order will be up for renewal next week, and Baker indicated that the mask order could be repealed for most indoor public spaces aside from jails, longterm care facilities and schools.

Additionally, large ticketed outdoor events will still need approval from both the state and local health departments. That order will be up for renewal May 16.

Grand’s current public health orders follow those guidelines and will likely be amended as the state’s orders change.

“Our intent is to follow the state’s lead in that mask guidance as well as following the baseline public health order,” Baker said.

Medical Director Dr. Darcy Selenke added that Grand County Public Health wants the summer to be as unrestricted as possible, but COVID-19 and its associated variants remain a concern.

“When we look at our case rates, we’re very similar to the rest of the state, so it makes sense for us to continue on the same lines as the state in terms of their mask mandates,” Selenke said.

During the update, Baker said that Grand County has seen 20 cases of COVID-19 variants including 12 of the UK variant, six of the California/Denmark variant and two of the Brazilian variant. The variants are concerning because they may be more contagious or cause individuals to get sicker.

Last week, Grand County commissioners expressed a desire to discontinue local COVID-19 restrictions. On Tuesday, Commissioner Kris Manguso reiterated her preference.

“If I had my druthers, obviously we would open up today,” Manguso said.

However, she acknowledged that the county needs to listen to Baker’s and Selenke’s advice. Manguso and Commissioner Rich Cimino also asked everyone to respect the decisions made about mask wearing at the individual, business and town level.

“I applaud the governor stepping back and letting counties make their own decision, and stepping back and letting towns make their own decisions,” Manguso said. “I am for local control as far down as you can get it because Grand Lake is different than Granby is different than Kremmling is definitely different than the Fraser Valley. We’re a very diverse county.”

Cimino added that with this being a slower season for Grand, it’s an ideal time to begin easing into looser COVID-19 restrictions under the guidance of the state. Commissioner Merrit Linke agreed.

“It’s one of those times where we need the best information possible,” Linke added. “It’s a decision going forward that we will make with a lot of thought put into it.”

Grand County has seen 31 new COVID-19 cases in the last seven days. According to Baker, Grand has had two cases of reinfection — meaning two individuals had COVID-19 and then got sick with it again. There have been no local “breakthrough” cases in which a person gets infected with COVID-19 after he or she is fully vaccinated.

There has been a possible third resident death due to COVID-19, which has been reported on the county’s COVID-19 dashboard but Baker said that case is under investigation. Two residents have been hospitalized for the disease in the last two weeks.

In terms of the vaccine, Grand County providers have distributed 13,250 doses. Baker estimated that 56.8% of Grand County has some level of immunity to the disease, including those who were infected with COVID in the last 90 days.

The state is now reporting vaccination rates by county, estimating that at least 56% of Grand residents have received one or more vaccine doses. That puts Grand in the top 20 for the proportion of residents vaccinated by county in Colorado.

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