SAN LUIS VALLEY– There are currently 527 known active cases of COVID-19 in the San Luis Valley. The number of actual cases is assumed to be much higher, given that our region’s positivity rate is now 19%.
Beginning next week, the San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership will switch away from reporting “known active cases” and will use “new cases in the past week” instead. These two measures are very close. The switch will free up some time for public health staff to focus on other critical activities.
While cases have risen steeply this month, new COVID-19 hospital admissions have been lower than they were during our Delta surge in the fall. Vaccination, especially boosters, reduce the likelihood of being hospitalized for COVID-19.
Those who test positive while they are hospitalized for other reasons still require extra hospital resources while they are infectious. Hospitals and other healthcare providers, like other employers, continue to face staffing challenges that come with such a high prevalence of illness in the community.
Switch to remote gatherings if possible while the virus is so widespread. Employers wishing to mitigate staffing challenges are advised to have symptomatic employees stay home. Where possible, switch to remote work temporarily.
Demand is high across the country for the treatments most effective against the Omicron variant. Healthcare providers may need to prioritize those at highest risk for certain treatments.
If you have symptoms of illness, stay home. Rapid home tests may give a false negative in the early days after infection. Most people infected by the Omicron variant can recover safely at home without treatment. If at any time you have trouble breathing, pressure or pain in your chest, new confusion, inability to stay awake, or if your skin looks gray or blue, seek emergency medical care.
After your symptoms are gone, and if you have had no fever (without medication) for at least 24 hours, and if at least 5 days have passed since your symptoms began, your level of infectiousness is decreasing. At this point, if you need to end your isolation, make sure you wear a mask for another 5 days while your infectiousness continues to decrease. Quarantine and isolation rules may be different for those living or working in healthcare or residential facilities.
Colorado is launching a new program to distribute a limited number of masks through some libraries and fire departments that have elected to participate. More information is available at https://covid19.colorado.gov/freemasks. This program is brand new, so please be patient while details are worked out.
Two private COVID-19 testing companies in Colorado have been in the news because they were not reporting positive tests and there were concerns about safety protocols. However, they were not operating in the San Luis Valley.
The Federal government has a new free test program. Each household may receive 4 home tests. Demand for tests is very high, so expect a minimum of 7-12 days before the tests arrive. Order tests at https://www.covidtests.gov/.
Mobile vaccine bus clinics offer both flu and COVID-19 vaccines to anyone age 5 and up. Upcoming mobile vaccine clinics are scheduled as follows:
Valley-Wide Health Systems offers COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible ages on Fridays at the ASU Neilson Library parking lot in Alamosa. Call 719-587-9610 to schedule.
County level COVID-19 data, vaccination information, and testing location information is available at www.slvphp.com or by calling 719-480-8719.