Avon population

Eagle County rides on latest wave of COVID-19 cases

An increase in home testing is impacting the state’s ability to track the positivity rate.
Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Courtesy photo

Eagle County, along with much of the Western Rim, is experiencing a spike in positive COVID-19 cases this summer that exceeds most of the state. Fortunately, the spike resulted in no change in hospitalized cases, which have remained at or near zero for the past few months.

According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Eagle County saw a 22% positivity rate over the past week, nearly double the 7-day positivity rate of the State of 11.94%. Eagle County’s two-week positivity rate is even higher, at 26.6%, a trend matched by neighboring Summit (27.9%) and Pitkin (20%) counties.

The West Slope mountain towns outpace most of the state in the percentage of positive tests.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment/Courtesy Photo

While those percentages technically qualify Eagle County as “severe risk” based on state metrics, Rebecca Larson, Eagle County Public Health and Environmental Epidemiologist, said the positivity statistics at they alone are no longer a reliable measure because they do not take into account the home test kit. results. It is only when a person takes a test at an official testing site or in a doctor’s office that their results are considered in the percentage of positivity, which excludes a large part of the tested population and skews the results. .

“From my perspective, it’s not a good comparison now period to period due to the change in how we use testing, who gets tested and the increase in home testing” , Larson said. “People tend to only seek out these types of tests if they also need medical attention, as it involves an office visit. So you’re starting to see a change where they tend to have symptoms, they might want to see their health care provider and also get tested there, compared to before when we had all these testing sites .

Although the spike in the percentage rate is skewed by new testing mechanisms, the upward trend in COVID-19 cases is mirrored elsewhere: in our wastewater. Measuring the presence of the COVID-19 virus in sewage has proven to be an effective method for monitoring infection rates, and sewage data show a substantial increase in SARS-COV-2 copies detected at from June.

While samples have hovered around 100,000 since the state began collecting data in March, during June and early July that number climbed to an average of about 600,000 in data collected in the Eagle River Health District in Edwards, Avon and Vail. Vail showed the biggest slope, going from 75,000 to nearly 800,000 samples over the past month.

Vail wastewater registers the steepest slope in COVID-19 samples since June.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment/Courtesy Photo

“With all these indicators: the sewage positivity percentage, looking at that seven-day case count, although it’s not a perfect indicator, and also just knowing people – I think we all know people who have been exposed, have recently been infected – putting all of this information together lets us know that we have quite a bit of COVID, and that’s very similar to what we’re seeing in the state and nationally as well,” Larson said.

Larson attributes the spike to increased tourism, particularly around July 4, as well as the presence of a new omicron variant, BA.5, which is highly contagious. Omicron variants now account for nearly 100% of infections in the state, according to the state’s sentinel surveillance of COVID-19 variants. Although the variant is spreading rapidly, it does not appear to cause serious health problems as hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain unchanged.

The latest guidelines ask those who have tested positive to immediately quarantine for at least five days from the onset of symptoms, regardless of their vaccination status. If no symptoms develop with a positive test, the person must self-isolate for five days from the date of the test.

Nearly 100% of all new cases are omicron variants. The latest omicron variant, BA.5, is highly contagious.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment/Courtesy Photo

“We continue to encourage everyone to stay up to date with their COVID vaccines and obviously follow guidelines if infected,” Larson said. “If you have COVID-like symptoms or are exposed, we have plenty of home tests available to us, so these are great resources to use.”

Eagle County closed its COVID-19 dashboard on June 1, and those looking for more information on infection guidelines and COVID-19 statistics are now directed to the state’s website, COVID19.colorado.gov. To find test sites and pick-up locations for home testing, visit EagleCounty.us/publichealth.