MINERAL COUNTY- Mineral County Commissioners, under the recommendation of Silver Thread Public Health Director Tara Hardy and Mineral County Emergency Manager Terry Wetherill, decided to extend the COVID-19 emergency declaration for another month. The decision was based on a recent rise in numbers that is occurring down Valley and to be in line with surrounding counties like Rio Grande and Hinsdale.
Hardy gave her report to commissioners stating that the two pending cases for Mineral County came back negative which kept the county’s active COVID-19 case numbers at zero. The county has been at zero for several months and had even reached the point where they could have qualified for the Protect Your Neighbor phase of the state’s response to COVID-19 but due to the increase in numbers in surrounding locations, Hardy opted to put a hold on the application for the time being.
Hardy also stated that Hinsdale County’s Protect your Neighbor application was also on hold and that Hinsdale had two active cases as of Monday, Oct. 2. Hardy explained that she was worried that things were going to get progressively worse as the winter months move forward. Hardy stated that she was looking into other testing options and would let the commissioners know once she had more information about the new testing options.
“Cases are rising in Colorado and on my call with Scott Bookman, the head of the state’s lab department and as of Thursday, Oct. 29, they had 625 hospitalizations, but that number includes cases that are not COVID-19 related. Hospitals are getting full because of the COVID increase and because of the non-COVID related hospitalizations. The reason it is a concern is because that leaves less room for COVID cases as the numbers rise.”
“Testing at the state, some messaging that we received late last week that caused some concern was that the state lab will no longer be prioritizing individual tests that are sent to the state, which is how we have been sending all of our tests. That is one of the reasons we are seeing a delay and because the lab is getting overwhelmed with the number of tests coming in large amounts from outbreaks in big facilities.”
Hardy continued to explain that the state lab is prioritizing those larger cases which has slowed down the results for individual or smaller test cases like those coming from rural communities like Creede and Lake City. “That means that we are going to have to line up with private labs, so we are working to get private lab capacity going so that both of our counties can submit to that lab.”
Hardy finished by encouraging the continued use of best practices, social distancing and wearing masks going into the holiday season. Commissioners thank her for her update and closed the discussion.
According to Hardy as of Monday morning, the San Luis Valley had 128 active COVID-19 cases.