San Miguel County Public Health told The Norwood Post on Monday that the Norwood area is a COVID hot spot. Though many people might think the pandemic is old news, many new cases of the virus are surfacing on Wright’s Mesa now, and the Delta variant, a mutation of the virus, is present in Norwood cases. 

Lindsey Mills, the spokesperson for public health, said the latest numbers indicate that that west end of San Miguel County has had 130 cases during the pandemic. But, 27 cases, which is about 20 percent of the total, have occurred since May 15. 

“It’s arguably the largest spike we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic,” she said. “Really high transmission rates of a very aggressive variant. We have experienced our first death in the county as a result of that variant.”

The death of the Norwood woman, who was an elder in the community, occurred June 14. The woman was not vaccinated and had the Delta variant. 

We are deeply saddened by the loss of a valued member of our community,” public health director Grace Franklin said in a news release last week. With much sorrow, we are experiencing our first tragedy of the pandemic and our small, intimate community is jolted. Our sincere condolences go out to those close to this resident.”

Mills said what’s difficult now is that some people are choosing not to test for the virus, even though they likely have COVID.

“We know of five symptomatic close contacts who have not been tested,” she said. “This is the difficult part for public health.”

Mills said she does respect the privacy of people, but she said the health and safety of community members are the most important things to public heath.

“If we can’t diagnose a COVID-positive person, we cannot treat them or potentially save their life,” she said. 

Mills said public health recommends the vaccine in light of the Norwood outbreak. 

“The vaccine is your ticket to safety,” she said. “It’s the most effective tool in our toolbox to protect yourself and others from COVID.”

She said the new numbers prove the vaccine’s protection. While the east end of San Miguel County was bearing the bulk of the virus numbers this winter, that has changed. Now, the west end of the county has the bulk of the cases. 

The opposite is true for the vaccinated population. Now, the Telluride area is mostly vaccinated, while the Norwood area is not. 

To complicate matters, anyone living in Redvale is not counted in the county’s metrics. That’s because anyone living over the county line (residing in Montrose County) is considered a non-resident. An individual may work in Norwood and have children in Norwood Public Schools, but if their home is over the county line, they’re not counted in county’s cases. 

Still, anyone in Nucla, Naturita or Redvale can test for COVID in San Miguel County. Testing is free to all people, Monday through Friday.

Mills said the majority of the cases San Miguel County is seeing now are running very close to the county line. Some are residents; others are “non-residents,” meaning they live in Montrose County.