Wednesday, January 20, 2021
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Though Colorado Coronavirus Numbers Are Back On The Rise, Polis Surprises With Restriction Rollback

#He did not mention the appearance of a new, more contagious, strain of COVID-19 detected by the state laboratory in a sample from a #Colorado #National #Guardsman working in an #Eastern #Plains nursing home. #It was the first detection of the strain in the U.S., and a second guardsman is also suspected of being infected with it.

The variant — known as the B.1.1.7 variant — does not appear to make people any sicker, but does spread more rapidly than the COVID-19 that has infected more than 330,000 #Coloradans since #March. #And more infections will likely lead to more hospitalizations, should that variant become widespread as suspected by public health experts.

#Mark #Johnson, incoming president of the #Colorado #Medical #Society and interim director of public health in #Jefferson #County, said he believes it is a mistake for #Polis to loosen restrictions in the midst of holiday weekends, and with a still-unknown amount of the more contagious variant in the state.

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“The limited resources local public health agencies have to respond to the COVID-19 virus and initiate vaccination campaigns are continually being stretched by what appear to be arbitrary changes to the dial metrics that are not shared with us prior to their announcements,” #Johnson wrote in a statement to CPR #News. “#This new surprise is not just moving the dial goalposts, but is more like changing to goalposts into a soccer net.”

#Johnson said it would have been better to wait and watch case numbers after the #New #Year begins.

“#Although the metrics are currently moving in the right direction, the concerns regarding the #Christmas and #New #Year holiday and the presence of a more infectious variant in the state leave many in local public health worried that lessening the restrictions right now will lead to increased cases and the need to once again tighten things down, thus whip-sawing businesses and adding to confusion,” #Johnson said.

#But #Polis is basing his optimism on the arrival of vaccines that provide immunity from the virus. #Earlier on #Wednesday, he again took local public health officials by surprise by expanding the pool of eligible vaccine recipients in category 1-B to everyone in #Colorado over 70 as well as an array of workers deemed essential, like teachers, grocery store workers, transportation employees and some journalists.

#State of #Colorado

#That decision to add hundreds of thousands of newly eligible people to the next group to be inoculated, announced by #Polis at a morning press conference, also surprised county public health directors. They are still trying to get first doses to frontline medical workers and, working with pharmacies, to local nursing home staffs and residents.

The announcement caused phones to ring at hospitals, doctors’ offices and county public health agencies across the state as seniors sought to learn details about where and when they will be vaccinated — details that do not currently exist.

“We understand that people are excited and anxious to receive their vaccine,” said the #Garfield #County #Public #Health director, #Yvonne #Long, in a release. “We are sorry for any confusion, as the criteria for 1B changed today. #Though we do not yet have enough vaccines in #Garfield #County to vaccinate those in the 70-plus age category, we are working on a plan to do this once we are able.”

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#Late #Wednesday, CDPHE issued a release acknowledging the lack of detail around the expansion of eligibility and asking #Coloradans to call 303-389-1687 or 877-462-2911, #Monday through #Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. or #Saturday and #Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m for more information on vaccine distribution “We understand that people are excited and anxious to receive their vain the coming days.”

“Several counties are planning to hold mass vaccination clinics for members of their communities,” according to the same CDPHE news release. “In the coming days and as more information becomes finalized, we will publish additional locations for vaccine distribution on the state’s website.”

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