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Chaffee County’s cases have dropped, with only seven new cases in the past week and 26 in the past 14 days; statistics that have allowed it to move to Level Blue on the state’s COVID-19 dial.

The county’s two-week positivity rate is at 2.5 percent, and there was one new case on March 10. All those who tested positive in the past seven days are resting at home. Of the past month’s 95 cases, only three were hospitalized.

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC) reports that it currently has no patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, and is currently at 44 percent of capacity. The hospital has had 440 negative and 28 positive employee test results.

Since the start of the pandemic, Chaffee County has had 1,018 positive cases of COVID-19. More than 55 percent of cases have come from the South End of the county, 2 percent were hospitalized for COVID-19, and more than 67 percent of cases came from person-to-person spread. The county has also had 139 out-of-county cases and 17 deaths due to COVID-19.

Along with lower case numbers came the county’s shift to Level Blue on the dial as of Wednesday morning. The county officially moved to the Blue level on Wednesday, March 10, after operating on the Yellow level for more than a month.

Chaffee County’s business operating adjustments to the Blue level on Colorado’s amended March 7 public health order,  were covered in this story earlier this week

“Chaffee County has had to work really hard to achieve this much-anticipated milestone, and we hope with continued increased vaccination rates and diligence in following the public health measures of mask-wearing, distancing, and staying at home when sick, we can move to an even less restrictive level in the near future,” stated Andrea Carlstrom, Chaffee County Public Health Director. “We must keep our 7-day incidence under 20 cases to remain at this level. It is clear that vaccinations are making a considerable impact on our local metrics.”

COVID-19 Variants in the BV Corrections Complex

The Colorado State Public Health Laboratory detected three cases (two staff and one inmate) of the B.1.351 COVID-19 variant at the Colorado Department of Corrections Buena Vista Correctional Complex (BVCC). None of those who tested positive had been vaccinated at the time of infection. CDPHE is continuing its investigation at the BVCC facility and is hosting testing and vaccination clinics for staff, inmates, and family and close contacts of staff members.

Public health officials continue to study the new variants in order to minimize their spread. Viruses often change through mutation, and new variants of any virus typically appear over time. For more information, see CDPHE’s variant FAQ.

Vaccine Distribution Continues

Vaccines are continuing county- and state-wide. As of March 8th, 11,625 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to Chaffee County residents. The county is currently accepting appointments for individuals in the following phases:

  • Phase 1A – Highest-risk healthcare workers & individuals
  • Phase 1B.1 – Ages 70+, moderate-risk healthcare workers, and first responders
  • Phase 1B.2 – Ages 65-69; PK-12 educators and licensed childcare workers
  • Phase 1B.3 – People age 60 and older, frontline essential agricultural and grocery store workers, and people age 16-59 with two or more high-risk conditions

Colorado COVID-10 Vaccination Data, March 9, 2021. Courtesy CDPHE and CCPH.

Phase 1B.4, including people age 50 and older, frontline essential workers, people with high-risk conditions, and employees necessary for the continuation of operations for state government and continuity of local government, is expected to open around March 21st.

Upcoming clinics are available to eligible groups only.

Even if you have been fully vaccinated, continue to wear your face-covering in public, practice social distancing, and prevent virus exposure to help keep your friends, family, and neighbors safe.

According to the CDC’s new guidelines, fully vaccinated people may now visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physically distancing in small groups, visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, and refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if they show no symptoms.

Fully vaccinated individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 should still monitor themselves for symptoms for two weeks. If symptoms develop, they should get tested and isolate. “Fully vaccinated” means at least 2 weeks have passed since the vaccinated person received their final COVID-19 vaccine dose.

All Coloradans, whether or not they have been vaccinated, are advised to continue to avoid medium and large gatherings with people from different households and should continue to wear well-fitting masks and practice physical distancing in public and at work.