By Randi Pierce
According to San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH), Archuleta County now has two deaths among COVID-19 cases.
A second death was recently reported via the agency’s data dashboard.
SJBPH issued the following statement to The SUN: “An adult senior who was a resident of Archuleta County passed away from complications due to COVID-19 on May 19th outside of SJBPH’s jurisdiction at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs.
“The death was first reported to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). SJBPH’s disease investigation team conducts regular audits of data to ensure data is reported in a timely and accurate manner.
“SJBPH sends condolences to the friends and family. COVID-19 continues to spread in Colorado including more transmissible and severe variants and residents are strongly advised to get the COVID vaccine and exercise additional precautions such as mask wearing and six-foot physical distancing, especially in public indoor settings.”
No additional information about the individual was released.
Archuleta County numbers
As of Wednesday, SJBPH reported 990 cumulative cases of confirmed COVID-19 among permanent Archuleta County residents (an increase of eight over a week).
As of the same day, Archuleta County’s positivity rate was 3 percent (down from 7 percent the previous Wednesday) and seven-day cumulative incidence rate was 64.30 cases per 100,000 people (down from 92.8 the previous Wednesday).
That, according to Brian Devine, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) environmental director and deputy incident commander for the SJBPH’s COVID-19 response, puts Archuleta County within what was considered Level Blue on the state’s old COVID dial.
However, he added, there is still community transmission, with the only trend among cases currently is that they are among people who are not vaccinated, either because they’re ineligible or have opted not to/have another reason to not receive it.
The agency further reported that 48 percent of Archuleta County’s total population had received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 45 percent considered fully vaccinated.
The site also reports that 55 percent of the eligible population (those 12 years of age and older) have had at least one dose, while 51 percent have completed their vaccine series.
“Archuleta County is actually doing quite well for a small, rural county,” Devine said, noting that some small counties are outperforming Archuleta County in terms of first dose, but that Archuleta County is in line with Colorado and the nation as a whole in terms of vaccine rates.
But, he pointed out, that still leaves roughly half the county’s population without protection from COVID-19.
Devine acknowledged that some may have natural protection from the disease, but clarified that figuring natural protection comes with a lot of variables, such as not knowing how long natural immunity lasts and not knowing the exact number of people who have been previously infected.
The long-term studies coming out of the vaccine trials are promising, he suggested, adding that the trials show continued strong protection after nine months.
“Why not take the additional protection?” he asked, suggesting there is plenty of supply and being vaccinated gives people the maximum amount of protection.
He further noted that studies show the risk among unvaccinated people remains high, with the incidence rate for those who are unvaccinated being higher than it was during the third wave last winter.
Currently, he noted, there is a push to get vaccine rates up and case rates down ahead of the Fourth of July.
SJBPH announces vaccine promotions
On Friday, May 28, SJBPH announced the “Vaxx for Scratch” offer for individuals who have yet to receive the COVID vaccine.
That was followed by an announcement Wednesday of additional incentives donated by Pagosa Brewing Company.
“We’ve got some exciting new vaccine incentives for people who may be on the fence about getting vaccinated,” Devine said Wednesday.
According to a press release, “Any resident age 18 or older who receives COVID vaccination at a SJBPH clinic in Archuleta County will be offered a $10 Scratch ticket while supplies last. The Scratch tickets have a top prize of up to $500,000.”
Vaxx for Scratch tickets will be distributed starting with the vaccine clinic today, June 3, in Pagosa Springs.
“Scratch tickets are available to adult residents receiving either a first or second dose of vaccine. All residents 18 and older who have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine will also be entered into the State’s ‘Colorado Comeback Cash’ million-dollar prize drawings that will award five Coloradans starting on June 4th,” the press release explains.
“SJBPH is excited to launch Vaxx for Scratch in Pagosa Springs on June 3rd! Whether it’s free Scratch tickets or the million-dollar drawings, you have an incredible opportunity to protect yourself from COVID and also win some money,” Liane Jollon, SJBPH executive director, is quoted as saying in the press release. “The real prize for vaccination is protecting the health and safety of our community and turning the corner on the pandemic. But if you’ve been procrastinating your COVID vaccine, get it done right away and take advantage of these fun offers and drawings. We are really hoping someone in our community wins one of the million-dollar prizes!”
The press release explains the Vaxx for Scratch tickets were purchased from the Colorado Lottery using private donations.
Today’s clinic will also offer tokens for 20 percent off a taster flight or two-for-one root beers at Pagosa Brewing Company while supplies last, Devine noted.
The COVID vaccine is available to all residents ages 12 and older. Youth ages 12 to 17 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Minors must have a signed parental consent form, which can be completed online when registering or at the clinic.
Several vaccine clinics planned
In addition to local providers continuing to offer vaccines, multiple vaccine clinics are on the calendar.
Today, Thursday, June 3, there will be a Pfizer clinic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the clinic taking place in a mobile unit at Pagosa Springs High School, located at 800 S. 8th St.
Walk-ins are welcome, or appointments can be made at: https://www.comassvax.org//appointment/en/reg/1596013201.
On Wednesday, June 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be a walk-in-only clinic at Riff Raff on the Rio, located at 356 E. Pagosa St, offering both Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer vaccines.
For more information about vaccine types, safety and eligibility, call (877) 268-2926. To speak to SJBPH call handlers, call (970) 247-5702.
For more information on vaccine providers and upcoming clinics in Archuleta County, visit: https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/.