News Bites – December 31, 2020
- Total Cases: 14,462 (+668 from last week)
- Total Cases in Berthoud: 577 (+32 from last week)
- Deaths: 139 (+19 from last week)
- New positive cases in 24 hours: 114
- 14-Day Case Rate per 100k: 349 (-421 from last week)
- COVID patients in hospital: 72
- Hospital Utilization: 78%
- ICU Utilization: 81%
- 14-Day test positivity rate: 6.8
- Risk Score: High
- 3.98% of the population of Larimer County has been reported to have contracted the virus. Deaths attributed to the virus comprise 0.96% of reported cases. Of reported deaths 23% were age 75 to 84 and 52% were 85 and older.
*State of Colorado
- New positive cases in 24 hours: 1,158 (-755 from last week)
- COVID patients currently hospitalized: 1,086 (-157 from last week)
- Number of facilities anticipating staff shortages: 21%
- Total cases: 328,408 (+14,856 from last week)
- Total hospitalizations: 18,230
- Deaths: 3,803 (+202 from last week)
*As of 12/30/20
A new variant of the COVID-19 virus which was first identified in the UK has been discovered in Colorado by the state testing laboratory.
During a news conference Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis announced that the individual who has tested positive for the B.1.1.7. variant of the COVID-19 virus is a man in his 20s. The individual is only suffering from mild symptoms but is quarantined in his home while he recovers.
“There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Gov. Polis.
During the same news conference, State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy stated that, “If it’s more transmissible we will have more cases in our communities, with more cases come more hospitalizations and more ICU beds used and the chance of overwhelming our health care system.”
State health officials also confirmed that they have identified two other possible cases of the variant in those who have been tested in Colorado with several more that have results that are pending.
Two of the individuals confirmed or suspected of having the new variant are members of the National Guard and were deployed to aid with an outbreak at a nursing home facility in Simla, Colorado.
Dr. Michelle Barron, Director of Infection Prevention at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital stated that “Now that it’s in Colorado, it’s probably in more locations and we just haven’t detected it yet, but that won’t be a surprise and shouldn’t cause alarm.” He continued by saying, “It doesn’t seem to be more deadly it’s at the same rate as the old COVID virus. The worry of course is that if it is spreading faster and more people have it with even with the regular rates this could be overwhelming for our health care systems.”
Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday that the three-phase plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in Colorado has been revised. Phase 1B of the plan will now allow front line essential workers in education, food and agriculture, manufacturing, U.S. Postal Service, public transit, and homeless shelter staff members to receive the vaccine before people in Phase 2. Front line journalists working in the field are also included in Phase 1B.
Workers serving in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government are also now included in phase 1B.
Additionally, Phase 1B will include people 70 and older, and individuals 65-69 are in phase 2. Before the changes were made, all people 65 and older were included in phase 2.
In phase 2 people ages 16-64 with preexisting conditions, people serving in local government, and adults who received a placebo during a COVID-19 vaccine trial will qualify. Currently, there is research being conducted on the safety of the vaccine for children age 12 to 15 who have conditions like diabetes that might also be able to receive the vaccine.
Phase 3 will mean the rollout of the vaccine for the rest of the general public.
Polis expects phase 1B to be completed by the end of winter, and phase 2 to begin in the spring. Phase 3 will start this summer.
Last week Colorado saw the lowest new daily COVID-19 case count since late October, as the state’s seven-day average of new cases continued to decline. Deaths have also decreased with last Monday’s seven-day average of nearly 15 deaths the lowest since Nov. 1.
State data shows that hospital bed usage in the state has also declined but not as dramatically as positive cases. Slightly less than three-quarters of the state’s intensive care unit beds were in use Tuesday, down from a peak of 86% in mid-November. Acute care bed usage showed similar trends. And just over 40% of adult critical care ventilators were in use as of Tuesday, down from a peak of 55% earlier in the month.
Last week additional areas reopened in Rocky Mountain National Park, as park staff continue to assess impacts from the East Troublesome Fire.
On the west side of the park, the North Inlet Trail reopened to Cascade Falls and will remain closed past the Falls. The Lower Tonahutu Trail, a short section of trail from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center to the North Inlet Trail, reopened as well.
On the east side of the park, the Moraine Park Road reopened to the Fern Lake Road winter turnaround. The Fern Lake Road, Fern Lake Trail and Cub Lake Trail remain closed. The Bierstadt Trail system has reopened. The Bierstadt Trail can now be accessed from Bear Lake, from the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, and from the Park & Ride area. The two sections of trail that drop into the Mill Creek Basin will remain closed.
The Upper Beaver Meadows Trail has reopened to the Moraine Park area. However, the Beaver Mountain Trail and the Ute Trail from Upper Beaver Meadows remain closed. The trails between Upper Beaver Mountains Road and Deer Mountain have reopened.
For the most current status of trails, including maps, please visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/fire-information-and-regulations.htm
Approximately 30,000 acres or 9% of Rocky Mountain National Park has been impacted by the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak Fires.
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