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COVID-19 surge in Mesa County explained

Mesa County has seen a significant spike in COVID-19 cases. On Jan. 9, 532 cases were reported. That is the highest single-day case total since the beginning of the pandemic.
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 9:27 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 at 9:29 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Mesa County has seen a significant spike in positive COVID-19 cases. On Jan. 9, 532 cases were reported. That is the highest single-day case total since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Monday, the health department reported three days worth of cases, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday which resulted in a total of 906 positive cases. These numbers are alarming and are likely from people getting tested after the holidays. Officials believe this spike is due to the Omicron variant.

“So that’s what we’re seeing right now, and we do attribute this large spike to the Omicron variant in Mesa County,” said Mesa County Public Health Spokesperson Stefany Busch.

Stefany goes on to say the data they have on the Omicron variant is delayed. “In order to identify variants in general, someone has to test positive for COVID-19 and then that positive test goes through a further sequencing process to identify which variant it is, and that can take a few weeks,” said Stefany.

As of right now, Mesa County has identified 29 Omicron cases. But that’s likely from two weeks ago, and that we’ll see even more cases of the Omicron variant reflected in the data two weeks from now.

“So although it just says 29, its safe to assume there’s far more than that,” said Stefany.

Health officials say there is a major difference in the Omicron variant versus the Delta and original strains.

“Omicron’s a little bit more volatile,” said Mesa County Public Health Disease Surveillance Specialist Madeline Weickert. “Meaning it hits quick and evaporates quick. It’s really infectious, but as far as we can see, so far, and it definitely depends on everybody’s individual immune system, but it’s not as severe as Delta was. And the big influx in cases that we’re seeing is definitely related to the high transmissibility of this virus and this variant.”

Since Omicron is seeming to be less intense, this is also being reflected in the county’s hospitalization and death rates.

“We haven’t seen hospitalizations and deaths reflect the spike in cases as much as we usually would with other variants and strains of COVID-19,” said Stefany. “This could indicate that this specific variant is less severe than others.”

Something a little different with this most recent surge in cases is the age distribution has shifted. It is hitting the five to 11 age group the hardest at 23% positivity. An indicator as to why this would happen could be that this age group currently has the lowest vaccination rate.

As a reminder, a five-day quarantine period followed by a five-day strict mask wearing period is still required when someone has been exposed to another person who has tested positive, if they are not up to date on vaccination and boosters.

For those who test positive, regulations are the same regardless of vaccination. For those without symptoms, a five-day isolation period followed by a five-day strict mask wearing period is required. For those with symptoms, isolation is required.

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