COVID claims 43 lives, two were vaccinated

Since March 2020, a total of 43 San Juan County residents have passed away with the COVID-19 virus. Two recent victims in the Blanding area were breakthrough cases, meaning they had previously been vaccinated against the virus.

The fatal breakthrough cases in the Blanding area include a woman in her 70s who passed away in October and a man in his 70s who passed away in November.

A third, recent fatality includes a man in his 70s from the Monticello area who passed away in October.

They are the first breakthrough deaths in the county and come on the heels of five recent breakthrough cases that have required hospitalization. In total, there have been 132 breakthrough cases in recent months, which represents six percent of the total cases.

In October, of the 200 newly diagnosed cases in San Juan County, approximately 170 cases – or 85 percent – were unvaccinated.

San Juan Hospital reports 16 COVID cases that required hospitalization over a recent 30-day period.

“We have had lots of sick people,” said Clayton Holt, CEO of San Juan Health.

The number of COVID cases continues to rise in San Juan County, with 239 active cases on November 9.

By comparison, there were 107 active cases in San Juan County in November 2020.

The Blanding area had 96 active cases in the latest count, with 50 cases in the Monticello area, 48 cases in the Montezuma Creek / Aneth area, and 26 cases in the Bluff area.

The virus is also impacting the school system, with 11 active cases in the Blanding schools, five active cases in the Monticello schools, two active cases in the La Sal school, and one active case each in the Bluff, Montezuma Creek, and Monument Valley schools.

Vaccines were recently authorized for children beginning at age five. Boosters have been authorized for high-risk adults who were previously vaccinated.

Utah Navajo Health Systems (UNHS) and the San Juan School District are partnering to provide vaccines for children ages five to 11, with clinics in area communities over the coming weeks. A legal guardian must be present for the vaccination.

The first clinic is Wednesday, November 10 at the Montezuma Creek Elementary cafeteria and the Navajo Mountain Community School clinic.

The clinic moves to the Monument Valley Elementary cafeteria on November 15, the Aneth Community School parking lot on November 16, and Blanding Elementary cafeteria November 17.

Contact UNHS or the schools for more information. The second dose will be three weeks after the first dose.

In total, 2,588 county residents have been diagnosed with the virus, representing 17 percent of the population.

Despite the fact that San Juan Public Health and UNHS have had significant outreach efforts, a growing number of local residents have had COVID-19 without a definitive diagnosis.

For example, in several instances, members of family groups have experienced COVID-like symptoms, even though just one family member was diagnosed by health agencies.

The number of deaths with COVID-19 dropped in recent months after the deadly cases in 2020. The virus continues to claim victims from at-risk groups. Of 43 fatalities, 32 of them (74 percent) were over the age of 60, and an additional eight (19 percent) were between age 45 and 59.

The vast majority of fatalities have been in patients who were vulnerable with additional risk factors.

San Juan Record

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