Mineral County discusses moving to level Green

MINERAL COUNTY — Mineral County Commissioners met with Silver Thread Public Health District Director Tara Hardy for a brief COVID-19 update during their meeting on March 1. Hardy reported that Mineral County was maintaining zero cases as of Monday and have maintained that case rate for the past two weeks.
“We are still holding steady at zero which is great, and we are still in blue status in the state’s COVID dial. As of this last Friday, we have vaccinated 365 first doses and 219 second-round doses,” said Hardy.
Hardy also announced that Johnson and Johnson did get approval to distribute a new vaccine which is beginning to be distributed in Colorado in coming weeks. Hardy stated that during one of her calls with Colorado Department of Health and Environment that the state was considering scheduling mass vaccination clinics in larger municipalities but that she did not sign up as a location for a mass vaccination clinic because the numbers in the county did not necessitate that.
Mineral County joined Rio Grande County near the end of February in changing their COVID status from Yellow to Blue and are now considering moving to Green. Mineral County Administrator Janelle Kukuk asked Hardy what the possibility would be if the county requested to go Green on the state’s dial. This prompted a conversation on the best course of action for the public health department and the board.
Kukuk asked what Hardy thought the county’s chances were to petition the state for permission to move to Green on the COVID dial to which Hardy replied that she would be happy to try.
“We can certainly petition to do that. On one of my last calls with the state, we talked about whether or not counties could apply for the gold star program if the county is in Blue and we were told that they were not considering that option right now because they are focused on the vaccination program,” explained Hardy.
Kukuk continued the conversation by asking, “I know earlier when we were beginning to petition for Green status, one of our sticking points was whether or not we could do enough testing as an individual county. Is that still an issue?”
Hardy responded that she was no longer concerned about completing the required number of testing in the county because they could once again send tests to the state lab if they called first and because her department was also considering an additional company for test results.
“We did get the go-ahead from the state to send testing to the state lab, but we have to call ahead and let our Epi-team know but there is another company we are looking at transitioning to, which would be very similar to the state. It would help us improve our testing numbers and it is still free. We also have the rapid test as well,” explained Hardy.
Commissioners also discussed with Hardy the possibility of just opening the county completely, and possibly requesting approval from the state to skip the Green status and just moving to open. Hardy was reluctant to pursue this avenue due to her concerns of public safety and suggested making the request to move to Green before moving forward. Commissioners directed Hardy to pursue the possibility of moving to Green and tabled the discussion pending a response from state officials.

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