County health officials also reported no new deaths and two additional hospitalizations.
The 61 new cases bring Boulder County’s total case number to 20,198. The death toll remains at 250, according to Boulder County Public Health data, and there have been no new COVID-19 fatalities reported in the county for 14 days. There have been 660 residents hospitalized to date. As of Wednesday, there were 24 residents in the county’s hospitals because of COVID-19 and seven residents had been discharged after receiving treatment for coronavirus.
Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach began Wednesday’s biweekly community COVID-19 virtual meeting with a moment of silence to honor fallen Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, who lost his life Monday trying to save others at King Soopers on Table Mesa Road during the mass shooting that took 10 lives.
Zayach briefly went over the county’s data without slides on Wednesday before introducing the newest member to the county’s COVID-19 community response panel.
Much of the discussion Wednesday focused on equity efforts when it comes to coronavirus illness and COVID-19 vaccine efforts in the county. Longmont Community and Neighbors Resources Manager Carmen Palacios-Ramirez, the panel’s newcomer, said her organization learned from the 2013 flood how to best reach more isolated communities — such as the Latino population in Boulder County.
Palacios-Ramirez also said some of those county efforts include using cultural brokers, community ambassadors and trusted community leaders to reach out and talk to the residents still experiencing vaccine hesitancy, while suffering higher rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
More information and data about these efforts Palacios-Ramirez briefly spoke about is expected to come mid next week.
BCPH Emergency Manager Chris Campbell asked the community to continue to be patient with vaccine providers as the county’s allotments continue to be unsteady and fluctuate week-by-week, due to changes in availability to the state, weather delays and other barricades previously reported.
Campbell also said that the best practice for those obtaining vaccines is to return to the same provider for a second dose and any follow up needed.
An attendee who identified herself only as Lisa asked, “When the vaccine is available for all, how can we ensure that there will be appointments at places that have the Pfizer vaccine, since that is the only one approved for 16 and 17-year-olds?” She also asked if minors needed to be accompanied by an adult when they get their vaccine.
Campbell said the county and its providers will need to get more information about future vaccine protocols and process for minors and others in later phases. However, he said once the county had definite information, it would be provided with clearer directions.
Another attendee, Karen Tourian, asked about contact tracing efforts in the county, and BCPH Dr. Chris Urbina answered by explaining that many residents are apprehensive about giving contract tracing information but encourages those who test positive for COVID-19 to provide this information, in order to protect more residents.
An anonymous attendee asked what is to be expected in Boulder County in regards to the new state COVID-19 Dial 3.0 rollout in anticipation of the county stepping down from the yellow “concern” to blue “caution” and eventually to the green “protect your neighbors” levels.
Boulder County Deputy County Attorney Trina Ruhland said that even though the restrictions will loosen, like allowing restaurants to operate with 100% indoor seating capacity on the green dial, the county will still expect residents to be cautious and practice social-distancing, masking and frequent hand-washing until the county can reach heard immunity. She doesn’t expect these guidelines to loosen in the near future even if the county steps down on the state dial.
Zayach reiterated Ruhland’s answer when another anonymous attendee asked a similar question regarding the use of masks. He replied by saying that when herd immunity is reached, like vaccinating against the seasonal flu, masks mandates can be loosened, but some guidelines will still need to be followed. He didn’t mention what those guidelines might entail. He also said that he did not know when Gov. Jared Polis would end the mask mandates, but expects it to go through much of the summer.
The panelists all addressed concerns about social distancing as the county inches closer to herd immunity and higher vaccination rates with concerns to the new state dial released Wednesday. Most notable were the new guidelines on social distancing. Ruhland said her office got clarification from the state about the new social-distancing guidelines and said the 6-feet social-distancing applies to anyone who is not part of an individual’s household or a family relative.
Zayach ended the community meeting by thanking the panelists and the greater Boulder County community for supporting him these last 30 years and trusting him during this pandemic. Zayach said, “this will be my last community meeting because I am retiring on March 31st.” Zayach previously announced his retirement in November.
When asked if the county is seeing a drop in or missed vaccine appointments and an increase in COVID-19 cases in the county, BCPH spokeswoman Angela Simental wrote in an email Wednesday, “this is an ongoing investigation and until we have a full investigation and a report from (the police department), we cannot speculate or make any connections.”
The University of Colorado Boulder updated its dashboard Wednesday. During testing on Tuesday, there were nine positive test results from 142 diagnostic tests and 1,637 monitoring tests. The dashboard showed three of the university’s isolation spaces were in use, which is 1% of the reserved space for quarantines. Since the start of spring testing Jan. 4, there have been 478 positives from 8,069 diagnostic tests and 65,508 monitoring tests.
Boulder Valley School District updated its dashboard Wednesday. The district reported seven ctive cases with 102 students and eight staff members in quarantine.
The St. Vrain Valley School District reported on its dashboard Wednesday with 23 active cases, split between 22 students and one staff member. The district has seen a cumulative 742 student cases and 244 staff cases, totaling 986.
Statewide, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported there have been 453,520 cases. A total of 6,183 deaths have occurred because of COVID-19. The state reported 6,077 deaths among cases. To date, 25,156 people have required hospitalization. Of Colorado’s more than 5.7 million population, there have been 2,691,661 people tested.
Boulder Valley School District active cases and quarantines
BVSD elementary schools
- Eldorado PK-8: 1 case; 11 students quarantined
- Ryan: 1 case; 1 student quarantined
- Superior: 1 case; 22 students and 1 staff member quarantined
BVSD middle schools
- Southern Hills: 1 case; 6 students quarantined
BVSD high schools
- Centaurus: 1 case; 20 students quarantined
- Monarch: 1 case; 15 students and 4 staff members quarantined
BVSD other campuses
- Community Montessori: 1 case; 27 students and 3 staff members quarantined
St. Vrain Valley School District active cases
SVVSD elementary schools
- Blue Mountain: 1 student case
- Fall River: 2 student cases
- Longmont Estates: 1 student case
- Northridge: 1 student case
- Red Hawk: 4 student cases
- Soaring Heights PK-8: 1 student case
SVVSD middle schools
- Altona: 1 student case
- Coal Ridge: 1 student case
- Longs Peak: 1 student case
- Westview: 1 student case
SVVSD high schools
- Erie: 1 student case
- Frederick: 5 student cases
- Silver Creek: 1 student case
SVVSD other campuses
- Career Development Center: 1 staff member case
- St. Vrain Online Global Academy: 1 student case