Public health struggles with capacity as local COVID cases remain high |

Public health struggles with capacity as local COVID cases remain high

Public health capacity is impacting Grand County’s ability to share COVID-19 data with the community.

After going a week without inputting new cases into the COVID-19 dashboard, Grand County Public Health is back to updating the daily case numbers.

Daily cases on the Grand County Public Health dashboard were not updated the week of Nov. 16 due to heavy caseloads and staff shortages, according to a message on the county’s website. The case data has been updated, but public health is still working to get current quarantine and isolation numbers on the website.

“I apologize to the public for us being behind, but it is just kind of part of what’s happening right now with all the different things that are happening,” Public Health Director Brene Belew-Ladue said at Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting.

She explained that public health has been trying to integrate a new case counting software and contact tracer, known as Dr. Justina, while also handling the rising number of COVID cases in Grand. Belew-Ladue described the data public health is handling as “cumbersome.”

While her department is trying to clean up the data, cases keep going up and demanding more contact tracing efforts. There were 32 new COVID-19 cases logged on Nov. 18 alone.

In the COVID-19 mitigation plan submitted to the state Nov. 17, public health emphasized that contact tracing and active COVID monitoring systems were at capacity. Three new team members should be joining the response by Dec. 15, but the caseload has been intense.

“Contact tracing and investigation staff have not been able to keep up with the increased caseload and have been working non-stop since Oct. 21,” the mitigation plan said.

This capacity issue has impacted public health’s ability to manage additional testing as well.

More than 2% of Grand County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began with roughly 40% of those positive cases having occurred in the past two weeks.

The incident rate for Grand is 916 cases per 100,000 people. The county has been far above the highest level of COVID incident rates — greater than 350 cases per 100,000 people — since Nov. 11.

Public health continues to ask the community to enact all COVID protective measures including mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and not gathering with members outside your household.

Belew-Ladue also told the commissioners that the state is sending out a letter to businesses stating that compliance with executive and public health orders is required as part of that business’s retail, food or liquor license.

As part of the county’s COVID mitigation plan, public health implemented tighter restrictions for the county, including a 10 p.m. curfew and limiting businesses, including restaurants, to a 25% capacity.

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