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Local health officials expect Colorado’s recent wave of COVID-19 cases to be nearing its peak, if not already surpassed.

PitCo returned to COVID rates last seen during the January-February spike, when the seven-day case rate exceeded 300 per 100,000 residents for the first time since mid-February on June 11. As of Friday evening, 46 new cases have been reported recently. seven days with a peak of 56 on Monday, which is also the highest since February. The 46 new cases represent 17% of positives and include eight reinfections.

However, according to Pitkin County Health Director Jordan Sabella, the infection rate has begun to decline and an important indicator remains stable.

“A key metric we are focusing on is the ability of hospitals to provide care for those people who need higher levels of care,” Sabella said. “Speaking at the state level, the state still needs to have the potential across all models to peak this current wave.”

Pitkin County has not recorded a single hospitalization in the past 28 days, despite the spike. The state is estimated to have 89% of intensive care beds occupied, another high since February. In Colorado, 91% of emergency beds are in use, a figure that has remained the same over the past few months.

At the local level, Pitkin County rates Aspen Valley Hospital’s status as “comfortable” with no travel of essential health workers, average visits per day, and hospital admission/transfer capacity all within manageable levels as of the latest report.

In terms of positive case reports, Public Health says it’s possible cases are being underreported due to the nature of the home testing kits. Through other methods, such as wastewater testing, health officials can still get a good idea of ​​what positivity rates look like, but they stressed the importance of reporting positivity locally, especially just to get resources. Some home use kits that report directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not make it into local data.

“This self-reporting option really helps us better understand how many active tests we have and how many positives we are getting,” said Carly Senst, PitCo’s new COVID team leader and epidemiologist. “It’s also a way to help access resources and the best and most up-to-date information.”

According to PitCo Public Health, 84% of the total resident population is fully vaccinated.

The recent surge is thought to be driven by new options as well as more travel as the weather improves.

“As we have seen during the COVID pandemic, when we get new options, we have always seen these peaks and valleys and seasonality and timing,” Sabella said. “Locally, we know we’re seeing a correlation between an increase in cases and the number of visitors we have.”

As the food and wine festival draws closer to Aspen, Sabella said it only raises questions about the need to be more vigilant about security measures.

“Because there are a lot of people gathering here and we have a high infection rate, a high risk at the community level, you will come into contact with people who are currently contagious for COVID,” Sabella said. “In choosing the steps to minimize your risk, we have all the tools at our disposal…use them and make the best choice to keep the spread of this disease to a minimum.”

Public Health recommends wearing masks outdoors, social distancing, using ventilation and staying home if not feeling well to minimize the risk factor.

If someone does test positive for COVID-19, they recommend contacting their primary care provider for treatment options.

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