Like many other parts of the country, Montezuma County has experienced an uptick in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.
According to data from the Montezuma County Public Health Department, there have been 108 new cases in the county since March 1. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also reported three outbreaks at local businesses.
The most recent outbreak, at the Ute Coffee Shop in Cortez, was reported on April 5. Three staff members tested positive for the virus.
Outbreaks were also reported March 1 at Absolute Bakery in Mancos and March 30 at Keesee Motor Co. in Cortez.
At each business, three staff members tested positive.
Keese Motor Co. had a previous outbreak in November that was resolved roughly a month later.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the county has had 35 reported outbreaks. Sixteen of those outbreaks have been resolved while 19 remain active.
Outbreak resolution is defined as 28 days after the onset of symptoms of the last case.
According to Marc Meyer, Director of Pharmacy and Infection Control at Southwest Health System, the uptick in cases is consistent with a national trend and potential weariness of restrictions attributed to the pandemic’s longevity.
“COVID has been going on now in this area for over a year,” Meyer said. People are starting to relax what they’ve been doing during that time with masking and other things. As we do that and move around more with tourist season and things like that, we’re going to see more cases.”
The positivity rate tracked by Southwest Memorial Hospital has risen from 2% to roughly 8%, and will likely increase more in the coming week.
Meyer told The Journal that the hospital has not been seeing COVID patients come through the doors. He hopes the county’s vaccine rollout over the past few months will play a decisive role in preventing a surge.
“If there are more people having it, they seem to be tolerating it fairly well,” Meyer said. “Hopefully all the vaccines we’ve given in the area, especially to the older population, will keep the death rate from increasing and hospitalizations from going up.”
According to CDPHE data, a total of 17,217 doses of vaccine have been administered to Montezuma County residents.
Meyer told The Journal that SHS had to scale back vaccine clinics because of a lack of demand. He believes that most of those who wanted to get vaccinated have already done so.
CDPHE data indicates that roughly 45.6% of the eligible county population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Clinics are only likely to expand locally as younger populations are approved to receive their shots.
As of April 16, Montezuma County has seen 1,815 confirmed positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Fourteen have died.