April 1, 2022 1:14 PM
Public Health Enters New Phase of COVID Response
(April 1, 2022) – Last month, Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) outlined a roadmap forward with the goal of preparing for the transition from pandemic to endemic response.
This roadmap included scaling back state involvement in routine COVID healthcare responsibilities while increasing monitoring and preparedness efforts.
The state has begun making changes, which are planned in multiple phases, while planning for the next variant, addressing the health care worker shortage, and incorporating COVID into routine healthcare management. Last month, the state closed the CDPHE at-home testing program followed by fourteen state-run community COVID testing and vaccination sites, shifting responsibility to individuals, their healthcare providers, and the federal at-home testing program.
Since San Miguel County’s omicron surge slowed and restrictions were lifted, Public Health has observed a steady, low disease burden and manageable number of reported COVID cases. Given this data, the county will continue to follow the state’s lead, moving from emergency to preventative and proactive response and localizing preparations and preventative response.
“In the coming months, we will follow the state’s lead, gradually shifting back to our essential role on the local level and returning to the many responsibilities we have to our community members,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “We are able to confidently make this shift thanks to effective vaccines, successful antiviral treatments, and diagnostic testing, complemented by a clear understanding of how to stop the spread of airborne viruses by wearing masks, distancing, and increasing ventilation.”
As the state folds more of its response into the normal function of public health institutions, local response will remain proactive, data-driven, and nimble. Public Health will prepare for a variety of long-term scenarios as the virus continues to present new challenges. With two years of emergency response and key learnings, the team is prepared to scale up testing clinics, contact tracing, and other resources quickly should a response be necessary.
Beginning today, April 1, Public Health will discontinue contact tracing of all individual cases instead focusing on data collection and monitoring, investigation for high priority cases, record management for outbreaks and clusters, and Public Health services for Spanish and Mayan Chuj speaking residents. This change aligns with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Additionally, as testing demand has decreased, Public Health will scale back free COVID testing clinics to Tuesdays and Thursdays in Telluride, pausing Wednesday testing for the time being. County vaccine clinics will continue every other Tuesday. Testing and vaccines are available by appointment through local medical centers.
“When it comes to the current state of COVID, we can take care of ourselves and our families as we would if infected with the flu or strep,” said Director Franklin. “We encourage you to reengage in preventative care with your provider, maintain your personal health and wellness and treat your illnesses with appropriate urgency and care, especially by staying home when you’re sick.”
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order two sets of four free at-home tests through the Biden administration’s free at-home test program. The program delivers free over the counter self-tests directly to residents’ homes. Regionally, testing is available at various urgent care clinics, retail pharmacies, and other community distribution centers. For more information regarding community, pharmacy, and at-home testing, visit the CDPHE testing page.
Public Health will continue to provide weekly testing in Telluride on Tuesdays, and Thursdays through the end of April. This testing includes PCR tests that can take about 48 hours to process. To register for a testing appointment, visit the Public Health COVID Testing page at bit.ly/smccovidtest.