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NPR casts spotlight on Durango’s COVID-19 battle

Mayor Dean Brookie interviewed about outbreaks, vaccine rollout

NPR turned its eye to Durango this week in response to the city’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak and federal discussion about vaccine approval.

In a four-minute segment, NPR host David Greene asked Mayor Dean Brookie about the severe COVID-19 outbreak at Four Corners Health Care Center, a Durango nursing home. They also touched on vaccines and hospital capacity in rural Colorado.

More than 130 residents and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at the nursing home, and three people have died.


“We didn’t have this problem early on, like so many other communities did,” Brookie said. “But in fact, it’s coming back to bite us later in the COVID scenario.”

The discussion turned to hospital capacity, which Brookie said was at 95%. Then they turned to national events, including the approval of the Pfizer vaccine, expected to occur Friday evening.

Brookie said La Plata County will likely receive fewer than 500 vaccine doses in the first wave, which goes to first responders and nursing home residents and staff members.

A faster economic recovery “is maybe not in the forecast,” he said.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said anyone 18 to 64 without high-risk health conditions is likely to receive the vaccine next summer, when Brookie was hoping to already see economic recovery underway.

“So we’re looking at quite disappointing news yesterday about the rollout and the availability for rural communities such as ourselves,” he said.


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