GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Unvaccinated Americans are feeling the latest wave of the pandemic the most. Hospitalizations, severe illness, and deaths are on the rise, including right here on the Western Slope.

Stefany Busch, with Mesa County Public Health, says, “when we currently look at our currently hospitalized Mesa County residents, about 93% of those individuals are unvaccinated and that number really speaks of  the efficacy of the vaccines we do have on hand in reducing severe illness due to COVID-19 which is the main goal.”

While the goal is to defeat this pandemic, new variants such as Omicron have emerged, causing a much bigger problem.

Busch also says, “the end of December and now the beginning of January, we are seeing our cases start to spike again, but we do know our illness rates continue to go up and down and that we’re definitely not out of the woods yet especially with new variants.”

Some of the options to fight COVID-19 include the most important, vaccination, or an alternative method the monoclonal antibody treatment.

Roughly 500 people in Mesa County have used the new treatment but will no longer be available to in Fruita.

Organizers say they were recently informed that Regen-Cov the medicine used in the monoclonal antibody treatment is less effective against the omicron variant.

County officials say the Fruita clinic is also closing for another reason.

Busch added, “the clinic is being supplied in part by a federal contract between CDPHE and the federal government and that contract was set to last one month.”

Well, that one month has expired and the doors are closed.

Meanwhile, Mesa County Public Health is reporting 19 District  51 schools had a COVID outbreak as of the start of the holiday break.

This as 3 new board members want to potentially end all mask mandates by February, an action that could cause COVID cases to rise.