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As the state of COVID-19 in San Miguel County continues to improve, health officials have announced that the public health order requiring masks in public indoor spaces is now set to expire on Tuesday, February 8 at 11:59 pm MST.
The date is set to allow local businesses, schools, and residents time to prepare for the transition and to further allow circumstances to improve.“The pandemic is not over, but there is enough confidence in the tools we have that we can reduce restrictions while keeping our at-risk residents safe,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “Based on the current, improving COVID conditions, it makes sense for us to allow people to move forward implementing best practices on their own as we learn to live with this virus.”As the public health order expires, officials continue to strongly recommend well-fitting, high-quality masks be worn in public indoor spaces to continue to slow the spread of Omicron and other variants of COVID-19 while reducing the risk to immunocompromised or unvaccinated individuals.Public Health has observed a decline in new cases throughout the county from 433 cases weekly to 65 since the peak of the county’s Omicron variant wave. Additionally, regional and statewide hospital capacity continue to see an ease of strain and increased availability for transfers. Last month, Telluride Regional Medical Center was able to transfer 60 percent of critical care patients regionally, up from 0 in November and December.The Colorado School of Public Health estimates that 42% of all Coloradans have been infected with Omicron and that 78% of residents have Omicron-specific immunity due to either vaccination or recent infection. Within San Miguel County, an estimated 15% of residents have been infected with Omicron and 84.7% of county residents are up to date with vaccinations. This level of community immunity paired with year-over-year data suggests that the decline in infection rate will continue as warmer months approach.“The pandemic has reached a point in our county that personal accountability and empathy toward others are effective paths forward,” said Director Franklin. “When considering your day-to-day activities, we encourage everybody to think of others when interacting in public. Wear a mask, stay home when you’re sick, and stay up-to-date with your vaccines to protect not only yourself and your loved ones, but also our at-risk neighbors, children and essential workers.”Public Health recommends staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations as they are proven to be safe and effective and, when paired with a booster dose, provide the strongest protection against severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death.“This wave will not be the last,” said Director Franklin. “But while the risk remains, we know the most effective ways to protect ourselves and each other and can empower each other to do so.”Well-fitting, high-quality masks, diligent hand-washing, staying home when sick and testing whenever symptomatic or exposed are important tools to limiting the spread of COVID’s active and future variants. Adherence to CDC guidance for those who have tested positive is recommended as best practice for reducing continued spread. After a positive test result, the CDC advises isolating for at least 5 days from the onset of symptoms. Once symptoms have resolved, continue to protect others by wearing a mask and avoiding public spaces for the remaining 6-10 days of the quarantine and isolation period.The county’s public health order requiring masks in public indoor spaces will expire at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, February 8, 2022. Public Health will continue to analyze metrics and trends to determine if protective policies are necessary moving forward. Officials ask residents and visitors to be kind and patient with local businesses, schools, and essential services as they take time to evaluate the risk to their staff, students, and patrons and determine a path forward.