Public Health Update: January 28, 2021

SAN LUIS VALLEY- Local businesses received praise Wednesday during a meeting with San Luis Valley public health and emergency management personnel. “We are finding restaurant and grocery store operators continuing to work diligently to meet the COVID-19 guidelines. They report that they are challenged with customers who do not follow masking guidelines. They are anxious to receive the vaccine. They are true heroes in this pandemic as they strive to keep their businesses open and continue to retain employees. We are happy to assist them in any way we can and are excited to be back out in the field and seeing their friendly faces,” said Carol Keith, Regional Environmental Health Program Manager. 


The general consensus among experts is that COVID-19 is likely to stay around for a long time. The wide use of vaccines is expected to reduce the devastating effects of COVID-19 on society and allow us to eventually get back to normal life. There are some diseases, such as smallpox and polio, that have been virtually wiped out in parts of the world where vaccines and other public health measures have become the norm. It remains to be seen if this will be the case with COVID-19. 


There are currently 152 known active cases of COVID-19 in the San Luis Valley. County-specific case counts are listed below, along with what each county is in on the Dial. 

Alamosa County - 64 - Orange

Conejos County - 19 - Orange

Costilla County - 5 - Orange

Mineral County - 5 - Orange

Rio Grande County - 55 - Orange

Saguache County - 4 - Yellow



More than 3700 first-dose vaccines have been administered in the San Luis Valley to those in Phase 1A and Phase 1B above the line. In addition, staff and residents at long term care facilities in the San Luis Valley have been given the opportunity to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine already, some with the assistance of public health, and others through a national agreement with Walgreens. 


Vaccine providers are tasked with staying within the allowable current phases, while at the same time not wasting a single dose of vaccine. Due to complex storage and preparation requirements, there may be times when a small number of excess doses are prepared and there is no one readily available in the current phase to receive them. This could occur if someone misses their scheduled appointment, for example. If this happens, the excess dose may be given to someone outside of the current phases in order to avoid wasting the vaccine. Ideally this is a rare occurrence. When it does occur, we use excess doses for the highest risk persons who are readily available to receive them. 


While the vaccines in use have been tested for safety and efficacy, there are still some things we are learning. We don’t yet know if COVID-19 vaccines offer long-term protection, or whether they will be recommended on a regular basis, similarly to the annual flu vaccine. Science is still evolving about how well the vaccine might prevent a vaccinated person from spreading the virus. Depending on how far along you are in the vaccination process, it may be necessary to quarantine if you are exposed to the virus, in order to ensure that you do not spread it to others. A couple of weeks after receiving your second dose, you are considered fully vaccinated. Once fully vaccinated, your chances of getting sick with COVID-19 are drastically reduced. A person who has been fully vaccinated at the time of exposure will not need to quarantine, but should continue other preventive measures including mask wearing and physical distancing, especially as new and more easily transmittable strains of the virus have been discovered.  

COVID-19 vaccination providers are currently able to serve frontline healthcare workers and first responders, and those age 70 and over. Individuals who are interested in receiving a vaccine may call or sign up online with one of the providers below. This will put you on a list to receive information as it becomes available as to when the vaccine will be administered to different groups.  This is not a guarantee for a vaccine, but does help us gather information and plan. 


To pursue testing for COVID-19 through our regular testing providers, or for medical questions, call;

  • Rio Grande Hospital 719-657-4990
  • SLVHealth Respiratory Clinic 719-589-3000 ext. 9 
  • Valley-Wide Health Systems 719-589-3658 ext. 4 (M-F), 719-589-2562 (Sa/Su)

In addition, Saguache County has announced the following testing events. Pre-registration is recommended. 


You can find answers to more vaccine questions at

Support local businesses. Get more information at 

The Colorado Spirit Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) offers community-based crisis counseling, help with disaster coping strategies, education, and more. Get information at or call 719-587-5673