YC at blue level, vaccinations slow down in Yuma – Yuma Pioneer

It took a little longer than expected, but Yuma County went level blue on the state’s COVID-19 dial on Wednesday of that week, February 24th.

Level Blue means more seating capacity for businesses such as restaurants, fitness centers and cinemas.
It also means more people can attend school sporting events across the county just in time for Wray Yuma to host a major wrestling dual tonight, February 25, and the Yuma basketball teams to host Peyton on Saturday. Indoor seating events and entertainment can now accommodate up to 225 people. This is an increase from 175 that was allowed in Level Blue until the numbers were recently updated.
Most of the counties in eastern Colorado had been set to blue when the state went to its COVID-19 Dial 2.0 on Feb.6. The Yuma and Logan counties in the northeast were the only ones designated as yellow.
However, Yuma County’s COVID-related numbers fell throughout the month.
The thought was that the county would be relocated to the less restrictive blue late last week. District administrator Andrea Calhoon told the pioneer that Yuma District COVID-19 Task Force members were frustrated when this didn’t happen.
During their weekly meeting, the Task Force asked Trish McClain of the Northeast Colorado Health Department to speak to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about their refusal to allow the county to move to Blue.
When the new guidelines were published earlier this month, the level assignment given by the CDPHE was assessed using a county’s seven-day numbers rather than the 14-day metrics used.
The county’s numbers were within reasonable levels to have switched to blue last Thursday. However, Calhoon said the application was denied because of the county’s 14-day hospital stay rate. Two were rehab patients who were discharged last week and left a case in the hospital.
“The governor’s office had specifically announced that it would negotiate with rural counties if hospital stays were the only obstacle to moving to blue and hospitals are well positioned to deal with what they had,” Calhoon told the pioneer. “Two of the hospital stays were rehab patients who happened to have COVID. They weren’t necessarily COVID hospitalizations and by (last Thursday) both had been discharged so we only had one left. Unfortunately, we saw CDPHE reject the governor’s statement because they were unwilling to use circumstantial information from our hospitals in their decision to reject our move to Blue.
“The task force expressed great frustration (last Thursday) that the official message from the state is that local decision-making is strengthened, but in practice it is not,” she continued. “Our public health officials, school officials and local government officials are put in an incredibly difficult position as the public is told that they have the authority to influence these decisions, but they are not given this opportunity. It’s pretty daunting. “
The persistence paid off, however, when it was finally announced last Monday that Yuma County would be relocated to Level Blue at 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
“Although we would have preferred to move earlier than we did, we are happy to be moving now and very grateful for the advocacy work that Trish McClain has done on our behalf,” said Calhoon.
According to the COVID-19 data found on nchd.org, Yuma County started this week with just three new cases in the past seven days and a test positive of 2.7 percent – both within the parameters for Level Blue. In addition, there was currently a hospital stay. The county’s estimated active cases were 28, as the number of cases has continued to decline sharply since the topping-out ceremony a few months ago.

Vaccinations in Yuma are slowing down
COVID-19 vaccinations available at Yuma District Hospital are a hit and miss right now.
The hospital recently opened a large clinic to all schools in Yuma and Washington counties, vaccinating a total of 150 people.
Heath Horton, FNP, with YDH said most of them are school workers but there are still some spots left so they can catch up with the remaining people in the 70+ population at this point.
However, Yuma was not given doses last week due to missing 100 doses for second shot patients. Those doses are due to arrive sometime this week, Horton said. YDH will continue to order more vaccines but will have to wait for more vaccines to be dispensed before setting up vaccination clinics. Horton said the hospital currently has about 50 people on the waiting list. He added that the health department is running some vaccination clinics and that vaccinations are now being done at the Walmart in Sterling.
Although there are 50 on the waiting list, Horton said the number of people requesting the vaccine has dramatically decreased and the number of people tested has dramatically decreased. He said he had no idea for the decline.
“We will hope that we will continue to be on good terms with the positive attitude in the county,” said Horton.
He also said the hospital heard that the state expects to increase the number of doses it will ship in the coming weeks. Also, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is about to be approved, which Horton says will help as it is a single-dose vaccine.
Individuals currently eligible to receive the vaccine include those ages 65 to 69, as well as school staff, including full-time and substitute staff, bus drivers, food service workers, advisors, administrative, security and others in the support services offered by the school. Child carers in child care programs are also eligible.
Colorado’s goal was to move into the next phase in early March and vaccinate key workers and people ages 16 to 64 with two or more high-risk diseases. Key frontline workers include food and farm workers, the U.S. Postal Service, food workers, religious leaders, and others.
While the state announced this week that it plans to move on to the next phase next month, Horton indicated that those in the current phase who still need shots will come first.

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