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San Juan County is one of America's most-vaccinated counties. So why is COVID-19 still a problem there?

A bird's eye view of the former mining camp, now town of Silverton, Colorado from a nearby vantage point which shows the town and its early autumn mountain surroundings.
Mike McBey
CC BY 2.0
The town of Silverton, Colorado, photographed in 2013. San Juan County's single incorporated town boasts one of the nation's highest vaccination rates.

San Juan County, with its single incorporated town of Silverton, is a popular destination spot. It’s also one of the top 10 most-vaccinated counties in the nation. 99.9% of its eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But despite high vaccination rates, the pandemic is still impacting the day to day for many in this southwestern Colorado county. And recent spikes in cases and outbreaks over the summer have demonstrated that health measures beyond just getting the vaccine are critical in the battle against COVID-19.

Rae Ellen Bichell, a reporter with Kaiser Health News, recently reported on San Juan County and the strategies public health officials there are employing to keep its highly vaccinated population safe. She joined us to talk about what's going in San Juan County now that its approaching the end of a bump in tourism, and what lessons the rest of the state can take away from their experience.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
I host and produce KUNC’s in-depth, regional newsmagazine Colorado Edition, which has me searching across our state for peculiar and impactful stories to bring to listeners, always with a focus on empowering the people who hear our show and speaking through them to our guests. I am also a big nerd about field recording and audio editing, my dedication to which I hope serves our listeners who care about audio as much as I do.