According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data, Colorado’s San Juan County has vaccinated 99.9% of the adult population with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, securing its position in the top 10 counties of the country.

If vaccination were the single option, San Juan County is the most bulletproof county in America. 

Masks Are Still Required Even In The Most Vaccinated Places

The last few months of the pandemic have shown complexity. Even in an extremely vaccinated county like this, doses are not alone enough as its effectiveness may be off and the delta variant is highly transmissible. 

Masks Are Still Required Even In The Most Vaccinated Places

The first hospitalization case of this county was in early August. Five residents were admitted to the hospitals. Three were on ventilators among which two recovered and one woman died. Reports say they were all unvaccinated. 

The public information officer of the county and local Chamber of Commerce’s director, DeAnne Gallegos said that pandemic is just going on. Everyone thought the virus would end by summer, then we thought it would decrease in November and now no one knows when. 

Gallegos said that they went back to the tools they had like discouraging indoor events and mandating masks indoors. She said that outdoor events like brass band concerts continued. 

Nearly 85% of the total eligible population of the county is fully vaccinated. The population nearly doubles in the summer as seasonal residents come back to their second homes, some vacation, and others look for seasonal jobs. It causes a tsunami of tourism as quoted by Gallegos. Most of these visitors’ vaccination status remains unknown. 

Gallegos said that they feel like a one-man band trying to make everything happen. Becky Joyce, A public health director of the county works from everything like giving vaccines, testing COVID-19, and contact tracing. When the administration of the county reinstated mask mandates she designed signs and tied them around the town. 

According to the report, the highest outbreak of COVID-19 cases is at indoor music festivals and RV parks. 

Gallegos said that just in 3 to 4 weeks of tourism, people started getting sick at the RV parks. And when the locals gather together with them for night concerts it was havoc. 

Dana Chambers runs a store in Silverton and said she got vaccinated as soon as she could. She thought of a mask mandate as a step back. She said that her business requires summer tourism to survive the winter. If it means wearing masks it is what everyone will do. 

An epidemiologist at Boston university school of public health, Julia Raifman said that she isn’t surprised about an outbreak of COVID-19 at San Juan County even when most of the eligible population is vaccinated.

Proof shows that COVID-19 vaccines protect against severeness, hospitalizations, and death. But even vaccines that are effective do not match the extreme contagious property of the Delta variant. She said that even in best-case scenarios where vaccines supposedly reduce spread by 80% people are two times more likely to contract the virus than they were in July. She added that statistically, it seems impossible to battle the data variant by achieving herd immunity. 

The University of Colorado Denver’s epidemiologist, Talia Quandelacy, believes that people have oversimplified the concept of herd immunity. She said that even if we hit a certain point, it will not guarantee that the pandemic will disappear.

Most the scientists agree that the virus is likely to stay, especially as most of the world remains unvaccinated. Quandelacy believes that it will probably take a couple of more years. The public health experts of San Juan County believe that preventive measures like social distancing, ventilation, and masks are required.