ARVADA, Colo. — A few months after receiving their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, an Arvada couple says they believe they caught the virus at Country Jam in Grand Junction.
Chris Biondini and his wife said it was their first concert since the pandemic began in late June.
"It was so much fun. We’ve been on lockdown for over a year," Biondini said.
It's in a sea of country music fans where Biondini believes he and his wife got COVID-19.
"We think where we got it was Country Jam. It was in Grand Junction. It was a three-day concert music festival. There’s 100,000 people there each night," Biondini said.
If the Arvada couple did get the virus at the music festival, they wouldn't be the only ones. The Mesa County Health Department is reporting an outbreak of seven cases at Country Jam the last weekend of June.
The Biondinis tested positive days after the music stopped. It was a surprise to them since the two received their second Moderna shot less than three months earlier.
"I was like, why did I go through the hassle and the trouble?" Biondini said about getting vaccinated.
They don't know what strain of the virus they have, but chances are good it's the delta variant.
"Delta is here," Dr. Michelle Barron said.
Barron is the senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth. She says the delta variant isn't going away anytime soon.
"The part that’s concerning is the delta variant is highly, highly contagious — more contagious than the standard COVID virus we saw at the beginning. Actually 60% potentially more contagious," Barron said.
Colorado is seeing some of the highest rates of the strain in the entire country we just don't know why.
"It may have more virus production and that’s how it spreads faster, but we don’t have a full answer for that," Barron said.
However, Barron says the vaccine still works. While it may not stop the variants, people who are vaccinated are less likely to experience severe illness that leads to hospitalization.
"If you look at who’s being hospitalized, 90% of these people have not been vaccinated and are still getting pretty sick from it. So, getting vaccinated even if you are young and healthy keeps you from ending up in the hospital, especially with these variants that are not to be messed with," Barron said.
In a statement, Jessica Bralish, the director of communications with the Colorado Department of Public Health and environment says:
"In tracking the spread of the Delta variant across the state, we know that this variant was introduced in different areas at different times. The Delta variant is more transmissible and more likely to result in hospitalization than the alpha variant. We saw evidence of this variant’s ability to spread in our Variant Sentinel Surveillance program as it quickly became the most prevalent variant in the state in a matter of weeks.
The Colorado State Public Health Lab has increased in-house sequencing capacity significantly in the past year. The Delta variant was first identified in Colorado on May 5 in Mesa County (with a specimen collection date of late April.) It has now been identified in all 50 states, with South Dakota becoming the 50th state to confirm the presence of the Delta variant earlier this week. In Colorado, we have been dealing with community transmission due to the Delta variant longer than many other states, so we will naturally have identified more cases than many states who did not have the variant circulating until many weeks later. Delta variant transmission will likely spike in different states at different times based on multiple factors, including vaccination rates, when the variant was first identified in that location, whether outbreaks involving a variant have occurred and increased disease transmission rates, and the degree to which mitigation measures are still being used in a given community (masking, hand washing, social distancing).
Experts stress that getting vaccinated can provide significant protection against illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, including variants. Getting vaccinated also protects others around you from getting COVID-19. Current data suggests that it reduces the spread of infection, leading to fewer opportunities for new variants to develop and spread.
People are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the final dose of their vaccination series. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask in public indoor spaces, wash their hands frequently, practice physical distancing, and limit social gatherings with people outside their households. Anyone who is unvaccinated and is exposed to a person with COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 should quarantine."