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LTTE: Please avoid gatherings during the New Year’s holiday

Graphic illustration depicting a letter on a coffee table that reads "Letter to the Editor" surrounded by a coffee cup, pencil and loose papers.
(Graphic Illustration by Christine Moore-Bonbright | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

Dear readers,


As we wrap up 2020, a year of unprecedented challenges, I am excited that we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel, a glowing light provided by multiple COVID-19 vaccines! Looking forward to 2021, we are thrilled to be undertaking a vaccination campaign with our partners to ensure that we can keep Larimer County safe from COVID-19 and reopen our economy at the same time. We are so grateful for all the sacrifices you’ve made over the past year. 

While we begin to vaccinate our community, please help us keep Larimer safe and save as many lives as possible by avoiding gatherings and limiting personal contact, especially during the New Year’s holiday.”

We know our community is eager to pitch in again to help us vaccinate over 80% of our adult population. We appreciate your patience as we follow state guidelines in vaccinating some of our most vulnerable populations with the currently limited supply. We’d like to thank you in advance for choosing to get vaccinated to help protect your friends, your family and your community. While we begin to vaccinate our community, please help us keep Larimer safe and save as many lives as possible by avoiding gatherings and limiting personal contact, especially during the New Year’s holiday.

The vaccines now available are exceptionally effective with nearly 95% efficacy after the second dose. For context, the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine is 93% effective against measles after one dose and after a second dose is nearly 97% effective. The seasonal influenza vaccine (flu shot), on a well-matched year, is 60% effective and still saves thousands of lives a year. So we expect these COVID-19 vaccines to be incredibly effective at preventing illness, saving lives and helping us return to many of the activities we gave up this last year. 

While we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are not out of the tunnel — but we can rejoice in the fact that we are getting close. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen cases rise after several holidays. After Halloween weekend, cases and subsequent deaths increased most dramatically, and we also saw a substantial increase in cases after July 4.  Conversely, after Thanksgiving, we saw a plateau in case growth and then a decline in cases after the Thanksgiving weekend.

14-day case rate from Larimer County Public Health Department. (photo courtesy of Larimer County Public Health Department)

These prior examples suggest possible trajectories after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. If we maintain high levels of transmission control through the holidays through actions such as avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, staying with just our household and using work-from-home options, then we can push the case rate to lower levels, as we did after Thanksgiving. Through these efforts, we can possibly lower the rate down to the same levels we saw in early October (170 cases per 100,000 people) by the end of January.

That lower case rate could move us out of the Colorado COVID-19 Dial Red Level to Orange Level or perhaps Yellow Level, allowing our economy to slowly open to a greater capacity, while we simultaneously phase in the vaccine to the highest risk populations. This would be a win-win for Larimer County.  

However, lapses in transmission control can quickly push our cases higher because our current case rate is much higher than in July or October. A pattern of growth like the one after Halloween would push us to a 14-day case rate of nearly 1500 per 100k. A growth trajectory similar to what we experienced after July 4 would mean a case rate of over 1,100 per 100,000.

These statistics clearly indicate that the next few days and weeks are critical. With broad vaccine availability just on the horizon, we cannot lose sight of our goal: to keep all of us healthy and alive. We can accomplish this by staying at home, not attending gatherings and not throwing caution to the wind. All of us want to celebrate with family and friends — family that we haven’t seen most of the year — but now is not that time. That time is coming, and hopefully, it is just around the corner.

Tom Gonzales


Larimer County Public Health Director

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