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 Centers for Disease Control Identifies Chaffee as a “High Risk” County

As COVID-19 surges once again across the country, Chaffee County is experiencing its own uptick with case rates that are double what was seen last summer at this time. The COVID percent positivity rate here is the highest it has been in months. Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) is warning that this overwhelming trend is due to a  majority of new cases of unvaccinated residents, and the local healthcare system is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients.

“It’s hard not to get choked up at this stage in our pandemic response … I’ve provided you with a foreshadowing of what is to come for weeks, said CCPH Director Andrea Carlstrom during the Chaffee COVID-19 Leadership Roundtable this week.”We are at the brink of a dark chapter in our response — nationally, and in our own backyard.”

Due to new information related to the Delta variant, which has been demonstrated to be many times more transmissible and potentially more severe in adults and children than previous strains, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released recommendations on July 27 that will hopefully slow the spread of this deadly virus. Some have compared the ease of transmission of the Delta variant to the spread of chickenpox.

Carlstrom confirmed that 100 percent of the county’s COVID test samples are now the Delta variant. “It’s not just adults, now we’re seeing children impacted. Our children under 12 are now high risk … while we’ve been calling this a pandemic for the unvaccinated, now it’s our children who are at risk.”

CCPH is asking county residents and businesses to consider following the CDC guidance whenever the county is listed as substantial or high risk. As of Thursday, this county has been assigned a “high risk” designation by the CDC and therefore, should be following the CDC recommendations.

Updates to CDC guidance include:

  • Updated information for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant currently circulating in the United States.
  • Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
  • Added information that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
  • Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
  • CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

In order to align with these changes, CCPH will be amending and extending its local public health order 2020–08 – AMENDMENT 24 to urge the residents and visitors of Chaffee County to use personal accountability, responsibility, and discretion on following these strong recommendations.

“Over the past year and a half, CCPH, the Chaffee County Board of Health, and local partners have collaboratively leveraged all of the public health mitigation and prevention strategies to overcome COVID-19 so that our economy could thrive and schools could return to in-person learning. We must protect our investment. However, it doesn’t take a scientist or epidemiologist to see that we are very much still in a global pandemic although we had been making great strides in controlling the impact of COVID-19, especially with the availability of the vaccine for those 12 and older,” said CCPH Director Andrea Carlstrom.

“Unfortunately, until we can get more people vaccinated, some of the strategies we know have worked, such as mask-wearing, are here to stay- for now,” she added. “We are also hearing that some people want to get the vaccine but are afraid of their family and friends knowing that they got it. Primary care providers are starting to offer free and confidential COVID-19 vaccinations, so we encourage those who are eligible to seek out the support of their trusted healthcare provider if not CCPH or another provider,”

At this time, CCPH and the Chaffee County Board of Health do not intend on requiring universal mask-wearing through a mandate. However, as the incidence and severity of positive cases increase, they will be monitoring if greater mitigation measures are necessary. The amended order will go into effect on August 9 and be extended at least through September 30th, 2021.

Meanwhile, CCPH is ramping up its testing, vaccination, and investigation capacity in anticipation of a dynamic Fall. It will also be modifying its local dashboard to include more vaccination and breakthrough case data to make it more relevant. As changes occur, CCPH will explain why the changes were made and alternative sources to track down requested information.

“If ever there were a time to get vaccinated – it’s now,” added Carlstrom. “Our society has been put in a dire situation … There are people pouring into ICUs across the country, being ventilated and begging for the vaccine, when it’s too late for that …we’ve been saying this for eight months.”

As a reminder, there is a weekly situational awareness report that gets posted on the Chaffee County website and on the Chaffee County COVID-19 Facebook page.

Direct questions can be e-mailed at or by calling 719-539-4510, but CCPH encourages the public to search out the answers using the resources provided first.

The Chaffee County COVID-19 data dashboard can be found at:

To make a vaccine appointment, call 719-539-4510. Vaccinations are readily available throughout the county.