Eagle County has reported 18,873 COVID-19 cases since March 2020 when the pandemic started. Garfield County has added 18,069 cases, while Pitkin County has recorded 8,086 cases.
The impacts of the pandemic have varied widely across the Western Slope, especially between mountain communities with higher infection rates but lower death rates and counties to the west, which saw fewer cases but higher death rates.
Looking at these past 2½ years, a lot has changed regarding what we know about the virus, variants, testing, vaccines and treatment options. Some of the public health policies put in place didn’t always make sense or they felt wrong to some people in these communities. But in those early days, they felt they were doing the best they could with the information they had.
“Since April, we’ve seen a disconnect between our incidence rates, our positivity and our wastewater measurements,” Pitkin County epidemiologist Carly Senst told county commissioners July 26. “The wastewater is showing much higher prevalence than what we’re seeing come through.”
In Eagle County, which has the largest Latino population among the three counties making up the Roaring Fork Valley, 60% of white people have received one dose, compared with 15% of Latinos.
Technological inequities have long been present in rural places, but the COVID-19 shutdowns illuminated just how deeply entrenched the problem was.
The number of COVID-19 tests given in Pitkin County more than tripled — from an average of 34 tests per day on Nov. 1 to 111 tests per day on Dec. 1, and then kept increasing. But on Jan. 21, the state announced that Curative tests could not be used for asymptomatic testing.
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Pitkin County began tracking nonresidents who tested positive here in mid-July, after numerous inquiries on the topic from news media and community groups; Aspen Journalism on July 13 filed a Colorado Open Records Act request for data on nonresident COVID-19 cases.