COVID-19 cases on the rise with Delta variant

After several months of declining numbers, it appears as if the incidence of COVID-19 is on the rise again in San Juan County.

The most recent figures released by San Juan Public Health show a steady rise in the number of active cases of the virus, which was first found in San Juan County 17 months ago.

The number of active cases has more than doubled since the beginning of August.

According to San Juan Public Health, “Our current 14-day case rate is 364.71 per 100,000 and our percent positivity is greater than ten percent, which puts us at a High Level of Transmission according to the UDOH Transmission Index for the first time since spring.”

After peaking at 296 active cases in January 2021, the number has steadily declined until it bottomed out at eight active cases on June 22.

However, the numbers have slowly increased since that time, with 18 active cases in early July, 30 active cases in early August, and 61 active cases as of August 24.

For the first time, the number of active cases in San Juan County is higher than it was one year ago. 

On August 25, 2020, San Juan Public Health reported 35 active cases of the virus, compared to 61 in the most recent report.

The cases are reported throughout the county, with 20 in the Blanding area, 18 in the Montezuma Creek / Aneth area, and 13 in the Monticello area.

While the number of cases continues to rise, it is clear the virus is not having the impact it once had. 

Hospitalizations and deaths have dropped dramatically after the first months of a pandemic that has hospitalized 182 county residents and contributed to the death of 38 others.

In the past week, officials report that the death of a county resident in December 2020 has been ruled as related to COVID-19.  The death of a woman in her 60s from the Montezuma Creek area was previously not classified as COVID related. 

This reclassification increases the number of COVID-19 deaths in the county to 38.

Public health officials state that the Delta variant of the virus is active in San Juan County and accounts for the majority of cases.  

They add, “The Delta variant is now the dominant strain being genetically sequenced in Utah. It has been advised to assume all new cases are likely the Delta variant.”

Public schools reopened in the past week, with students returning to all 12 schools in the San Juan School District. 

The six schools in the River Region of the school district, which are on or near the Navajo Nation, reopened for the first time since the initial closure in March 2020.  These schools reopened with mask mandates for students and faculty.

The six schools in the Mountain Region of the school district opened the new school year with no mask requirements.

These schools opened through the prior school year with mask mandates for students and faculty.

The number of active COVID cases is on the rise in areas surrounding San Juan County. 

Public schools in Cortez, CO reported active cases of COVID among students in six of the 11 schools during the first week of school. 

The Montezuma Cortez School Board held an emergency meeting on August 24 (after the press deadline) to address the situation.

San Juan Public Health reports that 6,032 county residents (or approximately 41 percent) are fully vaccinated, and 9,123 residents (or 62 percent) are partially vaccinated.

With the formal FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, it is anticipated that another vaccination push will be attempted by public health officials.

The Navajo Nation stated that employees of the executive branch of the Nation needed to be vaccinated or face testing every 14 days.

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