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As the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to surge across the country, Colorado is not being spared. There are more than 190 outbreaks reported across the state, and a major outbreak is now being attributed to the recent Major League Baseball All-Stars Game.

Although it makes so many of us angry, and frustrated, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. As of this morning, Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) reports that hospitalizations for COVID-19 (not diagnosed cases, actual hospitalizations) have increased to 15 percent with identified cases in just this past month. This is in contrast to three percent of all COVID cases in Chaffee County since March 2020 were hospitalized,

The Delta variant comprises 96 percent of COVID samples sequenced across the state for the week of July 11 (see for the state data dashboard).

But here in Chaffee County, 100 percent of COVID case samples from resident patients are the Delta variant.

“This is a concerning data trend with implications for healthcare system capacity,” noted County Public Affairs Office Beth Helmke in a message to county leaders.

On July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidelines recommending that both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates.

Chaffee County is currently categorized at the “Substantial Level of Community Transmission” through the CDC’s monitoring system, viewable at

Masks required for all. Image courtesy Salida Chamber of Commerce and Chaffee County Public Health

It was only last July 8 that Chaffee County amended its local  Public Health Order (Order # 2020-08 – Amendment 23) removing mask requirements in schools and the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles and adds a requirement that unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated staff use medical-grade masks, repealing the requirement for schools to follow the CDPHE outbreak guidance and reducing the hospital reporting requirement from seven days to five days per week.

On July 7, the Board of Health refused to raise the 5,000 outdoor event capacity rate, noting concerns over the continuing COVID-19 health concerns and the variants, which elicited much criticism. They reaffirmed their decision.

Chaffee County Vaccination Rate Stagnates

To use a baseball analogy — the county is in a different ball game. Chaffee County’s vaccination rate has stagnated; it went up .1 percent this week to 63.8 percent. The county has been inundated with tourists since the start of the summer season. The county is just weeks away from school reopening.

According to the state-level vaccination dashboard, including county-level data: See  as of midnight on July 27:

  • 21,826 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to Chaffee County residents. Includes ages 12+
  • 63.8 percent of eligible Chaffee County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Includes ages 12+
  • 59.8 percent of Chaffee County residents have been fully immunized with COVID-19 vaccine. Includes ages 12+

(Note: BVCC and other state correctional facilities’ vaccination data are not included in the state counts, due to being federal facilities.)

The Way out: Get Vaccinated

This has now been called “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”, because the vast number of people getting it, being hospitalized and dying, are unvaccinated.

CCPH continues to remind the residents of this county that “the way out of this health crisis, protect yourself and our community is to get your free, safe, and effective COVID vaccine.” The experts affirm that if we can get vaccination rates up, science will lead us out of this pandemic.

The CDC also advises all residents to:

  • Take precautions when in environments that may have a higher risk of transmission, including public indoor spaces and crowded outdoor spaces, particularly if you are immunocompromised.
  • Still get tested –If you are experiencing COVID symptoms or have a known exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.
  • Respect businesses or other facilities that may request visitors to mask up.

CCPH is doing an Office COVID-19 Vaccinations (open to the general public), typically administered at the CCPH offices within the Touber Building at 448 East 1st St, Suite 137 in Salida:

  • Thursdays, 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. utilizing Moderna vaccine, 18+ years
  • Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., utilizing Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for 12+ years

COVID-19 vaccine recipients should ensure their availability for a second dose, 28 days
following the first dose for Moderna or 21 days following the first dose for Pfizer.

For Standard Vaccinations (including adult, child, and travel-related vaccines):

  • Tuesdays: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays: 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Monitor information on Chaffee County’s COVID-19 response and data at: