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Garfield County sees increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, new variant cases

Garfield County Public Health says it is seeing a sharp rise in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 cases in the area, and has recently confirmed more cases of the newly renamed “Delta” variant locally.

“This is a reminder that the virus is not gone, and not everyone reacts to the virus the same way,” a Wednesday release from Public Health states. “Some people are at much greater risk of severe illness.”

According to the most recent countywide statistics, of the 49 new COVID-19 cases confirmed between June 4-10, 15% required hospitalization. As recently as June 1, the local hospitalization rate was 4%.



Not all of those patients are in county hospitals, however. Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs reported Wednesday that it has admitted three patients with COVID-19 since the first of the month.

Grand River Health in Rifle has not admitted any new COVID-19 patients in the past week, but did transfer four patients to other hospitals on Monday, including one to Denver, Grand River spokeswoman Annick Pruett said.



“We would not represent the changes in our COVID-19 hospitalizations as significant or dramatic,” Valley View spokeswoman Stacey Gavrell said. “Our capacity to care for patients, COVID or otherwise, remains strong.

“COVID is still negatively impacting our community by causing mild, moderate and severe infections,” she added. “The numbers are manageable, but it has not gone away.”

Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long said her department follows cases of hospitalized county residents, no matter where they are hospitalized.

“This number can fluctuate as patients are discharged but have remained stable as we have some cases that are being treated outside of the county with severe symptoms,” Long said in a Thursday email, adding her staff is currently following five hospitalized cases.

Despite the increase in hospitalizations, Garfield County’s incidence and test positivity rates remain stable, even as people are getting out and about more. As of Thursday, the incidence rate was 78.1 per 100,000 people, and the test positivity rate had dropped to 3.7%.

COVID-19 vaccination rates for the county are 57.4% for patients with at least one dose, with 48.7% fully vaccinated, according to the county release.

There have been 49 new cases over the last seven-day period. Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been 40 recorded deaths from COVID-19 in Garfield County, including one new death within the past month.

County sees more ‘Delta’ variant cases

Meanwhile, county health officials reported Thursday that there have been six new confirmed cases of the Delta COVID-19 variant within Garfield County over the past three weeks.

“Not all positive cases are sequenced for variants, meaning the actual number of infections is much higher,” a Thursday news release stated.

The World Health Organization has listed the Delta variant, which originated in India, as a “variant of concern,” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is classifying Delta as a “variant of interest.”

“The Delta variant has been found to be more contagious, particularly among youth ages 12 to 20,” the release states.

According to Garfield Public Health, anyone in Garfield County now testing positive for the COVID-19 virus likely has a variant strain of the disease.

“Areas of Colorado with lower vaccination rates are more likely to be impacted by the spread of the variants,” the release states. “Garfield County Public Health reminds the public to maintain health precautions, especially if you are unvaccinated.”

For vaccine clinic information, visit the Garfield County Public Health website or Facebook page.


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