A letter to the Telluride community from Dr. Christine Mahoney and Dr. Diana Koelliker:

Just before the holidays, a severe spike in positive Covid cases has San Miguel County health officials on high alert. Omicron has quickly overtaken delta and is now the dominant Covid variant in the United States and around the world. It has already been recognized in Eagle, Summit and Pitkin counties as the cause of recent sharp increases in new COVID cases. What does this mean for the holiday season?

Public Health testing capacity is stretched thin. Although the County has added additional hours, the demand may exceed capacity. Telluride Regional Medical Center is concerned about capacity as well due to staffing limitations at the same time as thousands of guests arrive in the area for the holidays.

Health officials urge the public to take the following steps:

Get vaccinated. Get boosted.

Given omicron’s rapid growth rate, most notably in regional mountain towns, it is important to increase booster rates as soon as possible to provide protection in January.

We know that omicron spreads faster and more easily than delta. It may also be able to evade the immunity from prior infections and the current vaccinations, but we know that vaccinated people continue to have better outcomes when infected with the variant than unvaccinated, especially those who have received a booster. It remains unclear if the variant causes more severe illness or less severe symptoms, but evidence suggests that vaccine evasion may be reduced by vaccine boosters.

San Miguel County Public Health offers weekly vaccine clinics. Check their website to find out how to make an appointment.

The Colorado Department of Public Health has static and mobile clinics around the state, including a traveling vaccination bus.

Telluride Medical Center has Moderna vaccines for adults 18 and over, and Pfizer vaccinations for children ages 5-11. We currently do not have the Pfizer booster for teens or adults. Find out how to schedule a vaccination here.


Anyone symptomatic and in close contact with a known positive case should presume they are positive and isolate for 10 days.

Any asymptomatic and in close contact to a known positive should:

  • Isolate 10 days if unvaccinated
  • Reduce interactions and be vigilant with mask use. Do not interact with anyone that is vulnerable (unvaccinated, over 65, or immunocompromised). Isolate immediately if any symptoms start.

For more information, see the CDC’s quarantine and isolation guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html

Postpone non-urgent medical care.

The Medical Center expects demand to continue increasing through January. If you need urgent care, please do not delay treatment. But if your need is not urgent, please consider postponing your appointment to help us maximize our capacity to help those who need it most.

Get Tested.

There are many at home tests available at local pharmacies and drug stores. We recommend keeping a few at home in case you plan to travel or if someone becomes symptomatic in the family. San Miguel County and Microgen have free testing available in the county four days a week. The schedule may be limited over the holidays. Please check the San Miguel County website for testing information.

Telluride Medical Center provides medical evaluation with various testing for people who are symptomatic and ill during scheduled appointments in our respiratory clinic located at the Depot building.

Limit indoor gatherings.

There is risk to gathering indoor without masks, despite your vaccination status. Ask if the people there will be vaccinated? Have they had a booster? Are they or you at high risk of severe illness? Remind people to stay home if they have symptoms and please get familiar with the symptom list. If you must gather indoors, wear a mask and open the windows to keep fresh air circulating. Better still, move your gatherings outdoors. Bundle up, enjoy a hot drink and celebrate that this winter we can safely get together if we take the right precautions. The best gift for the holidays is being careful, so stay home if you are sick and get tested.

Slow the spread.

What’s the best way to stay safe? Help slow the spread by following these basic prevention steps.

  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a mask indoors.
  • Continue physical distancing.
  • Cover your cough.
  • Stay home if you are sick and get tested.