Through testing at the Mesa County Fairgrounds COVID-19 community sampling site, a case of the B.1.1.7 variant has been identified in a female Mesa County resident in her 30s with no travel history. The woman reported no symptoms (asymptomatic) and was not hospitalized.
The case was confirmed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment through laboratory testing on February 4.
Mesa County Public Health completed a case investigation with this individual and advised her of isolation instructions and quarantine measures for her close contacts. Quarantine guidance for those exposed to the variant is more strict, to minimize transmission and other potential exposures.
Statewide, COVID-19 variant cases remain relatively low. The case added from Mesa County today is one of 23 new reported variant cases, bringing the total to 39.
Colorado was the first state to have a confirmed case of the B.1.1.7 variant in the United States; that case was in a resident of Elbert County on December 29.
This strain, sometimes referred to as the UK variant, appears to spread more easily and quickly than more common strains that cause COVID-19. There is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of hospitalization or death than previous circulating strains.
Scientists believe that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be effective in providing immunity against these new variants.
Infections due to the new variants seem to have the same symptoms as the original COVID-19 strain. They can also cause asymptomatic infection, as was reported with this individual. Contacts of cases with any of the new COVID-19 variants need to quarantine for a full 14 days.
The most effective ways to prevent the spread of any COVID-19 virus remain the same: Wearing a mask in public, maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from others, limiting contact with anyone outside your household, washing your hands often, and staying home when you are sick.
Continue to stay up to date by visiting health.mesacounty.us.
Governor Polis announced an update to the Covid-19 vaccine prioritization list. The main updates are:
- Phase 1B will now be known as Phase 1B1, which is where we are right now. This phase includes Coloradans 70 and older, as well as moderate risk health care workers and first responders.
- Phase 1B2 includes Coloradans ages 65-69, as well as PreK-12 educators and child care workers in licensed programs. They will be able to start getting vaccinated on February 8.
- Phase 1B3 includes frontline essential workers and Coloradans ages 16-64 with two or more high-risk conditions. They will be able to start getting vaccinated in early March, estimated by March 5th.
This announcement is in preparation for supplies to increase, however they remain limited at the current time. We are working through a waitlist of more than 15,000 individuals 70 years and older and they will continue to be our priority.
Over the next several days we will amend our interest form to include these additional phases, which are eligible beginning February 8th. We will offer limited appointments to educators in the coming weeks and we’ll expand as vaccine supply becomes more widely available.
Anyone looking for more information can visit health.mesacounty.us/covid/vaccine or call 970-248-6900. The state has also set up a vaccine hotline for sign up and eligibility questions 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).
Public Health Emerging Issues
January 28, 2021
Vaccine Distribution Update
- Colorado is currently in phase 1 of vaccine distribution.
- Mesa County is currently in phase 1A and 1B of vaccine distribution and is administering both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines to members of our community.
- As of the week ending January 23, Mesa County has administered 7,425 first doses and 1,613 second doses for a total of 9,038 doses.
- We estimate Phase 1 is 38% complete.
- Vaccine data is published weekly on our Vaccine Dashboard.
- Mesa County Public Health is operating a Point of Distribution (POD) mass vaccination site at the Grand Junction Convention Center (159 Main St.)
- This location, open by appointment only, will allow for approximately 1,200 doses to be administered per day and can be expanded further.
- Because of the nature of the vaccine, as well as storage and monitoring requirements an appointment is required.
- Our current priority group is a small number of remaining front-line health care workers, the majority of our appointments are being filled by first responders, essential personnel in Phase 1B, and individuals age 70 and older.
- Phase 1A and 1B recipients will receive the vaccine through their employer, local public health agency, enrolled COVID-19 vaccine provider, or through the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care (LTC) program.
- All skilled nursing and long-term care facilities in Mesa County have held clinics for first doses of vaccine. Scheduling is underway for clinics to administer second doses.
- Phase 2 is scheduled to begin this spring and Phase 3 is on track to begin this Summer if not sooner based on vaccine availability.
- An interest form on the MCPH website is available for individuals who have not been contacted through their employer, or those who are 70+.
- There are more than 30 facilities across Mesa County that have signed up to distribute vaccine. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working to determine which additional providers will serve expanded groups as we move through subsequent phases.
- Cost is not a barrier. COVID-19 vaccines are provided free of charge; you may be asked for insurance information, if you have it, for administrative costs.
- Questions about eligibility, interest, or registration for appointments can be emailed to email@example.com or call 970-248-6900. We ask for your patience as we return calls as quickly as possible, high call volumes have resulted in delayed response times.
- For general information, the state of Colorado has set up a vaccine call center. Operating hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Beginning Feb. 1, hours will extend to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- The toll-free number is 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).
Mesa County Public Health and local hospitals will provide a joint update on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, which includes a mass vaccination point of dispensing (POD) location at the Grand Junction Convention Center. The POD will be open by appointment beginning Monday, January 25, 2021.
Members of the media are invited to a press conference at 10 a.m on Friday, January 22, at the Grand Junction Convention Center (159 Main Street, Grand Junction, Colorado). Top healthcare and public health officials will update media representatives on the current status of COVID-19 and vaccine distribution in Mesa County and the community’s response to the virus. Confirmed speakers include representatives from SCL Health St. Mary’s, Community Hospital, Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center, and the VA Western Colorado Medical Center. The event will also be streamed on the Mesa County Public Health Facebook page.
Please visit Mesa County Public Health’s community resource webpage for current, reliable information on COVID-19: https://health.mesacounty.us. Mesa County Public Health representatives are also available to respond to vaccine and other COVID-19 questions by phone from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at 970-248-6900.
COVID-19 vaccine is currently being administered at local hospitals, long-term care facilities, and at Mesa County Public Health (MCPH). To-date, 4,489 doses have been administered, including second doses for some of the highest risk health care workers.
Vaccination for Phase 1A is underway, which includes approximately 7,000 individuals who are front-line health care workers and high-risk individuals. Local hospitals and Mesa County Public Health are the designated providers for vaccine administration to individuals in Phase 1A. Vaccination has also begun for staff and residents of Long-Term Care facilities. These are occurring through a Federal contract between the CDC, Walgreens, and CVS. This effort is known as the Pharmacy Partnership Program. Our community goal is to have the majority of health care workers in Phase 1A receive their first dose by the end of January.
Limited vaccination for Phase 1B is underway with expansion plans as more vaccine is received. Phase 1B, which was expanded in the State of Colorado on December 30, includes moderate-risk health care workers, individuals 70 years and older, first responders, and essential workers. Mesa County Public Health is operating a vaccination clinic with the capacity to serve 2,000 people per week.
A vaccine interest form on our website can be filled out by individuals who are 70 years and older or essential workers eligible in Phase 1B. MCPH will notify those individuals via email or telephone to set-up an appointment as vaccine becomes available. Because of limited supply:
- Registration is required through an online portal exclusively for organizations in Phase 1A and 1B.
- Access to registration is verified through a unique registration token, or key, given to organizations and individuals.
- Token information is sent in an email or provided by MCPH to ensure only the appropriate number of appointments, based on available doses of vaccine, are scheduled.
Mesa County will move to additional categories under Phase 1B once we receive more vaccine doses. Local hospitals will continue to assist in local efforts to vaccinate groups 1A and 1B. Our community goal is to have the majority of first responders and individuals 70 years and older vaccinated by the end of February.
As supply increases, MCPH will expand its ability to administer vaccine by opening a mass vaccination Point of Dispensing (POD) location at the Grand Junction Convention Center. This location will allow an average of 1,600 doses per day to be administered and could be expanded further if needed.
By March, MCPH hopes to begin vaccinating frontline essential workers in education, manufacturing, postal services, and transportation, among others. This timeline is dependent on receiving a steady supply of doses, which at this time remains limited. The state of Colorado as a whole received 46,000 doses last week. MCPH is prepared to quickly administer the vaccine as we receive it, regardless of allocation size.
As we move into Phase 2 later this spring, 35 independent practices have registered to be vaccine providers. Once this phase opens, those providers can order vaccine from the State and administer vaccines to Mesa County residents.
As you prepare for your turn to be vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask over your nose and mouth, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands.
To see a summary of Mesa County’s vaccination plan, learn what phase you fall into, or to track our progress, visit the COVID-19 vaccine page.
Due to a sustained decline in cases of COVID-19 Mesa County will transition to Level Orange: High Risk on the state of Colorado’s dial effective January 4. The move allows businesses who were not part of Mesa County’s Variance Protection (5-star) Program to operate at a greater capacity, partners certified with a 5-star rating may continue to operate at their current level. If declines continue on the current trend, we anticipate these certified businesses will be able to move to level yellow, as soon as the middle part of January.
“Mesa County has stepped up in a big way to get us here, we’re thrilled to see the dial shift back toward green,” Mesa County Public Health Executive Director, Jeff Kuhr said. The most recent data shows a slowing of illness due to COVID-19 in our community; case counts, hospitalizations, and percent positivity are all down in the most recent two week period.
Still, the number of cases for which the source of exposure is unknown accounts for about 41% of cases in the past two weeks, indicating there is still community spread occurring. “We can’t let our guard down, I ask residents to continue to wash their hands, wear a mask, and avoid in-person interactions with people outside your immediate household.”
To track case counts and other data to monitor disease levels in our community, visit the Mesa County Public Health COVID-19 data dashboard here.