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While everyone 16 and older is now eligible for a vaccine in Colorado, Clear Creek officials have emphasized that the pandemic isn’t over and that everyone needs to keep taking …
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While everyone 16 and older is now eligible for a vaccine in Colorado, Clear Creek officials have emphasized that the pandemic isn’t over and that everyone needs to keep taking precautions.
Public Health Director Tim Ryan described a race against the clock to get as many people vaccinated as possible before the COVID-19 variants spread further. The more COVID-19 spreads — whether the initial strain or the variants — the greater the chance that a new variant will appear that is more transmissible and/or more deadly, he said.
At the same time, Colorado and other states want to roll back restrictions as more people are vaccinated, Ryan described.
“This pandemic is not over, despite the politicians’ desire to make it so,” Ryan said at a March 30 COVID-19 update with the county commissioners. “Yes, we’re vaccinating folks across the country at a record rate, but the variants are far quicker than humans.”
As of March 30, two variant cases had been identified in Clear Creek County, although Ryan was unsure which ones or if it’s the same variant.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and state health officials have indicated that the statewide mask mandate could be renewed through mid- or late April, after which each county would decide whether to institute its own.
Ryan and his fellow county public health directors across Colorado sent a letter to Polis, asking him to keep the statewide mask mandate in place through at least May 31. He said a statewide mandate is easier for residents and visitors to keep track of, rather than a piecemeal approach.
“I spoke to my colleagues in other counties, and the level of absolute belligerence of people going to resorts is at an all-time high,” Ryan continued. “(Those counties) want the ski season to end as quick as possible. They want the snow to melt, because (visitors are) driving up the numbers in those counties.”
The commissioners urged locals to continue wearing their masks, which Ryan described as the second-most effective way to prevent COVID-19 spread after the vaccines.
“How do we communicate to folks that this isn’t over yet, and we’re in a moment of danger here?” Commissioner George Marlin asked. “What’s our phrase? `Stay the course.’”
Commissioner Randy Wheelock emphasized that, even if someone has been vaccinated, they should continue wearing a mask in public to protect those who haven’t been vaccinated and those who can’t, such as children.
Ultimately, Ryan said that COVID-19 won’t be going away any time soon, saying it’ll likely have a seasonal presence like the flu where it reappears in the winter and diminishes over the summer. It also will likely mutate into more variants that people will need to be vaccinated against, he explained.
So, to help prevent spread now and in the future, locals shouldn’t plan on burning their masks anytime soon.
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