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The state’s data on total COVID-19 cases might look high for the county, but numbers can be misleading.

Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) has reported four new community cases of COVID-19 infections since last week; one case being confirmed on Wednesday through a rapid test done at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC). This brings the number of confirmed and current positive cases in the community to 37.

The overall recorded total of county positive cases rose to 283, Carlstrom said, not including 15 cases of people who tested positive in Chaffee County, but who do not have physical addresses here and could represent tourists tested here, or residents of neighboring counties who work in Chaffee County.

Microscopic view of COVID-19 virus. Image servprodowneyca.com

The high case count is not due to general community spread : it include 180 positive tests of inmates of the Buena Vista Correctional Complex, (BVCC) as well as nine BVCC staff members; only four of whom are Department of Corrections staff residing in Chaffee County.

Testing turn-around continues slow. “We’re still waiting for test results from a week ago Tuesday, ” said Chaffee Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom on Wednesday. “We’re going to try to increase local testing capacity. I reached the state lab this a.m. and learned we can be reactivated as what a Colorado waiver site — so we would be eligible to purchase any number of point of care testing to do a local testing strategy. If we can do that we’d most likely make it mobile, so we could do not just COVID-19 testing, but testing for flu and strep.”

The overall totals also include Columbine Manor Care Center, where a prior spring outbreak infected 44 residents and 12 staff members.

Deaths from COVID-19 have remained stable. A total of 19 county deaths were recorded with patients having COVID-19 infections, and 14 of those deaths were directly attributable to the virus.

The CDPH notes that COVID-19 may not have been the cause of death listed on the death certificate. This infection information is required by the Centers for Disease Control and is crucial for public health surveillance, by providing more information about disease transmission that can help identify risk factors among all deaths across populations.