Commissioners Approve COVID-19 Vaccination and Action Plan
One of the main initial critical tasks for the new board of Teller County Commissioners dealt with approving a new COVID-19 vaccination action plan.
In a unanimous vote last week, the county commission endorsed the new COVID-19 proposal that establishes three phases, aimed at getting the highly touted coronavirus vaccine into the arms of citizens as soon as possible. It also establishes a central area where people can obtain the needed doses, dependent on supplies.
However, residents are advised against flooding the public health department will calls and visits and vaccination demands.
But in some ways, the new plan provides more questions than answers.
Newly-elected commissioner Erik Stone cautioned that the county is still receiving limited amounts of the vaccine. He urged residents, especially those who reside in neighboring counties, to initially contact their medical provider.
Currently the county is mainly providing priority to front-line response workers, such as health care and emergency service workers and individuals 70 years of age and up. Phase two will then deal with essential workers and medium risk individuals, while phase three concentrates on the general public.
The plan estimates that to achieve the desired level of “Herd Immunity” from the virus, possibly 21,250 shots of the initial dose must occur, along with 42,500 shots of the second dose. The county, though, is currently is not receiving nearly enough to handle that goal.
Currently, about 100 doses have been delivered per week.
But many more supplies are expected.
“This thing is moving so quickly,” said County Administrator Sheryl Decker. She said the county has updated its COVID website and has started a COVID Facebook page. “We want to look at ways to take the burden off public health,” added Decker.
“This is a good start,” said Stone.
But he stressed that the county has limitations, and can probably only serve those who live in the county. “You want to reach out to your medical provider,” urged the commissioner. He also cited UCHealth as a good source to fulfill the needs of many people. “Teller County remained limited in in the number of doses it is receiving. It is inconsistent,” added Stone.
“Our supply is very limited,” noted Commission Chairman Bob Campbell.
Recently, Governor Jared Polis appeared on national television and heavily criticized the current Trump administration for their response to the crisis. He believes the situation will improve with a new administration.
Other area leaders, though, have pointed their fingers at Polis for limited communications with local officials and for devising an inconsistent COVID protection plan. Another hurdle in the effort deals with many folks who don’t want to take the vaccine, or who want to wait a little bit, due to possible after-effects.
According to the new plan okayed by the commissioners, the county will have vaccination area set up at the Divide site, which currently handles COVID-testing, located near the intersection of Hwys. 67 and 24. “The county owns and maintains the site and should the need arise to work late shifts, no immediate neighbors would be impacted by lights and traffic. The Divide site can be expanded to manage several hundred vehicles/patients a day,” stated the distribution plan.
The plan lists close to 50 types of businesses, entities and age groups it wants to prioritize. At the get-go, the main priority consists of EMS transport agencies, primary care facilities, law enforcement dispatchers, testers, vaccinators, pharmacists, firefighters, law enforcement and jail patrol, highest risk individuals and senior citizens, who are 70-years-old and up.
“We will coordinate the effort,” said Don Angell, the director of Teller’s Office of Emergency Management. “This is a moving target.” He said their office would pursue the “most efficient level of delivery.”
Despite limited supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine, Teller businesses, restaurants/eateries and casino operators don’t have to worry about any pending closures or more restrictions. Teller is currently off the state watch list for its current Level Orange rating. No more meetings have been scheduled with the state.
According to Decker, the county has just been instructed to contact the state Department of Public Health and Environment if their case load starts to drastically increase again. The county is also mulling the idea of starting a five-star program for interested businesses. This would allow certain businesses, such as restaurants and even casinos, to operate at even a lesser level of restrictions than those mandated by the county. However, this program features many rules and added expenses.
To date, Decker said she hasn’t experienced a great deal of interest locally in this program. But she attributes this to the state’s recent decision to reclassify many counties from Level Red to Orange. That partially ended the possible lockdown scenario.