Board of Health/pandemic

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RBC | The county’s Board of Health heard from community members, student athletes, athletic directors and school superintendents regarding the requirement for high school basketball players to wear face masks both on and off the court on Jan. 28. On Feb. 2 the board reconvened to approve a letter addressed to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado High School Activities Association, and the Colorado State Board of Health requesting that those groups reconsider the recommendations for basketball.

For the current sports season, only basketball players are required to wear face coverings while practicing. Concerns about choking or entanglement for wrestlers precluded wrestling from being included in the requirement. Spectators and coaches are required to wear masks for both sports.

“It would make things better for them if they could play without their masks,” said MHS Activities Director and head basketball coach Klark Kindler. RHS Activities Director Ryan Wilkie cited several studies he found online about masks, and said, “Life is an inherent risk. I think that’s a personal choice between athletes.”

Superintendents Chris Selle and Matt Scoggins said they supported the request to have the requirement removed, but expressed concerns that not following CHSAA’s rules could take away the opportunities for student athletes to play.

“What happens in the school is still subject to CHSAA regs,” Selle said.

RBC Public Health Director Alice Harvey said she fully supported the request.

“In the spirit of the way we have handled this since the start, this is a perfect example of how locally we’ve handled this, working closely together with the schools, the hospitals, etc. We are sharing information at such a granular level we’re able to contain outbreaks in a way that’s far more efficient than other districts. I think that’s how you manage the infection control risks,” Harvey said.

The Meeker wrestling team and boys basketball team recently self-quarantined following reports of probable exposure to limit the possibility of spread.

Also during the Jan. 28 meeting, the Board of Health discussed a media request from Fox News Channel 31 in Denver regarding “wasted and discarded vaccines.” According to a spreadsheet provided to County Attorney Todd Starr’s office the percentage of loss was higher for RBC than for other counties.

Harvey and Public Health Nurse Sarah Coker provided a thorough explanation for the 17 doses out of 800 that were classified as wasted or discarded. Six doses expired before they could be given, and 11 doses were missing from “short” vials that only had nine doses instead of 10.

“Other counties are having the same problem. We are giving proportionally more, based on our numbers through our clinics. The only time we throw a vaccine out is if it’s expired,” Harvey said.

The board directed staff to draft a letter to send to Fox 31, which reported on the situation statewide later that day, quoting the CDPHE’s immunization branch chief Heather Roth, who said, “I think we’re really pleased with the data, with it being under 1% of unused dose,” said Heather Roth, CDPHE’s immunization branch chief. “All of our vaccine providers are being really good stewards of the federal resources that are coming to Colorado.”

The RBC Board of Health includes the three-member board of county commissioners (the only voting members) and three citizens appointed by the board. It’s one of the boards that has some requirements for appointments, including having a background in environmental or behavioral science, or a health/medicine background; and being able to “provide content and technical guidance for jurisdictional enforcement and public health steering.” There are two vacancies on the board at this time.

PANDEMIC UPDATE

“We are seeing a decrease after the spike that started about a month ago,” RBC Public Health Director Alice Harvey said Monday, adding that they hope the drop in new cases and hospitalizations last week continues.

The State of Colorado is proposing more changes to the COVID-19 dial framework that would change some of the thresholds based on vaccination rates and changing from a 14-day incidence rate to a 7-day incidence rate. If the proposed changes are accepted, RBC would be eligible to move to Yellow status on the dial based on current numbers.

Starting next week, individuals 65-plus, education and childcare workers, and “people essential to continuity of state government” will be eligible to receive vaccines.

Those in the “essential workforce” group — which makes up a large percentage of residents in RBC, are expected to become eligible March 1. Harvey said the county has been receiving vaccine allocations from the state as expected.

For the booster shot clinic and first dose vaccination clinic schedule, see the ad on Page 2A or visit https://rbc.us/629/COVID-19-Vaccinations


By NIKI TURNER | niki@ht1885.com

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