COVID Cases Surge as School Year Begins


San Juan Basin Public Health urges area residents and visitors to wear a face mask indoors to prevent transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus to protect the unvaccinated, the majority of whom are school children younger than 12. Sponsored by San Juan Basin Public Health and Whole Health Family Medicine Clinic

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Public health officials strongly urge area visitors and residents to wear facial coverings indoors to protect the most vulnerable among us, our school children. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Whole Health Family Medicine and The Payroll Department. I'm Wendy Graham settle. La Plata County saw the number of confirmed COVID cases more than double from July to August. A surge that coincides with the return to in-person learning in area schools. The surge reflects a similar trend statewide, with COVID cases increasing 35% from July to August. San Juan Basin Public Health officials attribute the increase to the highly infectious Delta variant, which appeared in La Plata county in early June. Executive director, Liane Jollon, said that the majority of Delta variant cases are occurring among people who are un-vaccinated. And 90% of those hospitalized with COVID infections are also unvaccinated.

We really are right now facing a pandemic of the un-vaccinated, the overwhelming majority of cases, and especially the cases that lead to severe infection, hospitalization and death are in unvaccinated individuals.

According to San Juan Basin Public Health's COVID data dashboard, slightly more than two thirds of La Plata county residents, ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated. More than 70% have received at least one dose while the fully vaccinated can become infected with the Delta variant. They're less likely to suffer severe symptoms or die. And in some cases they may have no symptoms at all. However, they can unknowingly pass on the virus to others with severe consequences, especially for children younger than 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. The federal drug administration continues to study whether the three vaccines available Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson are safe for children younger than 12. Children also appear to be more vulnerable to severe symptoms and hospitalization if they contract the Delta variant. That's why the health department re-issued a health advisory in August that strongly recommends everyone, including the fully vaccinated to wear a mask while indoors. So far only Durango school district nine are one of three school districts in La Plata county requires all students and staff to wear masks while indoors or riding a school bus. Indoor masking is optional for students and staff in the Bayfield and Ignacio school districts. Bayfield requires students to mask while riding the bus in compliance with federal regulations. Ignacio does not. Neither the city of Durango nor La Plata county have issued any new mask mandates since their original mask orders were rescinded this past spring. In the meantime, Jollon says she understands the reluctance to wear masks once again, but she urges residents to use them to reduce the county's growing infection rate and to protect our children.

We need to do this to bring the infection rate down and protect our children, protect the largest un-vaccinated group among us, which is actually kids under 12 years old. So we have the responsibility to do this as a community. So we have issued this advisory. We really hope that our community wants to come together and do the right things to protect each other, protect our families and protect our kids.

If you want to know more about COVID infection rates in La Plata county or the health departments public health advisories, visit Visit school district websites to learn more about their COVID protocols for the 2021-22 school year. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham settle.


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