With COVID-19 surging, SJBPH calls for statewide mask order

SJBPH

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) amended its local public health advisory today amidst a statewide COVID-19 surge with transmission and hospitalization rates comparable to the worst peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The advisory updates vaccine eligibility to include 5 to 11-year-olds, expands booster eligibility based on an Executive Order by the Governor, and adds information related to monoclonal antibody treatments and upcoming federal ‘vaccine or test’ mandates.

Colorado currently has one of the highest seven-day incidence and seven-day death rates per 100,000 people in the nation, and currently has approximately 1,500 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Modeling provided by the State of Colorado projects hospitals may exceed ICU and acute care capacity in the coming weeks.

SJBPH strongly urges residents to fully adhere to the local public health advisory and wear masks in all public indoor spaces and businesses whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. For local governments, schools, and businesses, full adherence to the advisory means requiring a mask for entry into their facilities and indoor spaces.

Colorado’s COVID-19 surge has the potential to lead to the rationing of health care for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Earlier this week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) activated crisis standards of care guidelines for hospitals allowing them emergency flexibility in how they allocate resources, staffing, and provide care to patients. Tier 3 of the Combined Hospital Transfer Center (CHTC) has also been activated and is the highest tier available to manage patient transfers on a statewide level. The Governor signed an Executive Order yesterday declaring the entire State of Colorado as high-risk for exposure or transmission, making Coloradans 18 years of age and older eligible for a COVID-19 booster (for adults six months past their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months past their Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Vaccine clinics and providers offering first, second, and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available on the SJBPH website.

“This statewide COVID-
19 surge is extremely serious and is being driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated. With hospitals on the brink of exceeding capacity, residents should mask up and get the vaccine or a booster dose right away. The vaccine and boosters are a critical tool available to community members to prevent them from being hospitalized with COVID-19,” said Liane Jollon, Executive Director of SJBPH.

“The entire state of Colorado has been formally declared a high-risk, high-transmission area, therefore SJBPH calls on the State of Colorado to enact a statewide mask order to help flatten the curve and save lives. A mask order can be rapidly deployed to reduce transmission and complement ongoing efforts with vaccine, testing, and COVID-19 treatments. Masks are proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19, can be turned on and off quickly, and are most effective when issued and enforced at a statewide level. If everyone was vaccinated our hospitals would be in a much better position, and we are working extremely hard at the local level with support from the State to get our vaccination rate up as high as we can. While we work together to vaccinate and boost, we are asking the State for a proven public health precaution that will help immediately,” added Jollon.

SJBPH joins the Colorado Medical Society, American Academy of Pediatrics (Colorado Chapter), Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, and numerous other medical societies and public health experts calling for a statewide mask order. High transmission and hospitalization rates are consistent across Colorado. Coloradans and visitors travel across county boundaries often and mobility across the State is high. Statewide public health orders provide consistency and limit confusion among the public. Masks are cost effective, minimally intrusive, and are proven to reduce transmission. A statewide mask order should be temporary, and once Colorado makes progress toward flattening the curve and averts further crippling of our overstretched health care system, a statewide order should have county or regional metrics allowing for customization and loosening of precautions.

Public Health Advisory

Both La Plata and Archuleta counties are identified as having ‘High’ transmission according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the highest transmission rates of 2021 have been observed in recent weeks. With the holidays approaching and more activities moving indoors with colder weather, SJBPH strongly urges all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a well-fitting mask inside of public indoor spaces and businesses.

SJBPH strongly encourages business owners and operators of public indoor spaces to fully adhere to the advisory. A business in full adherence would require a mask for entry and maintain physical distancing of at least six feet between households or parties in enclosed spaces. The advisory also encourages employers to continue with symptom screening, testing of staff, ventilation improvements, and other measures to prevent an outbreak in the workplace. SJBPH is providing business owners with signage they can display if they are in full adherence with the advisory. The State of Colorado is also encouraging all businesses to take the Power the Comeback/COVID Safe Business Pledge to become an official Power the Comeback Business Partner.

This is SJBPH’s fourth amended public health advisory of 2021. The first went into effect on May 14th. SJBPH will update the reissued advisory as needed based on local case incidence rates, hospitalization data, and other metrics.

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

SJBPH applauds the State of Colorado for working hard to increase monoclonal antibody treatment access. SJBPH is pleased to have been informed the State will be providing a local mobile access point for monoclonal antibody treatments as early as next week. Information about how to access COVID-19 treatments is available through the State of Colorado’s website.

SJBPH will provide more details on this treatment opportunity as soon as possible. Information about treatments for COVID-19, including monoclonal antibodies, is available on the SJBPH website.

COVID-19 Vaccine

The vaccine is convenient and widely available for all residents ages 5 and up. 5 to 17-year-olds are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and the two-dose series takes at least five weeks from the first shot for individuals to complete the series and reach maximum immunity. 

There are numerous vaccine providers in La Plata and Archuleta counties, and SJBPH is offering clinics seven days per week in partnership with Jogan Health. All SJBPH and Jogan Health clinics can offer first, second, third, and booster doses for those who are eligible. The full schedule of vaccine clinics, pop-ups, and mobile clinics is available online with convenient dates and times available across both counties.

Although advance registration is preferred, walk-ins are also welcome at upcoming clinics. The vaccine is free, and no ID is required. Additional providers and information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found on SJBPH’s website.  

For COVID-19 data, testing locations, and more information about vaccines visit the SJBPH website.

Like it? Share it!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail