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Chaffee County had a surprising increase in COVID-9 cases Monday, Sept. 21 with five new cases reported by Chaffee County Health Department (CCPH) employees, including a Department of Corrections (DOC) employee.

DOC spokesperson Annie Skinner confirmed the DOC employee infection and noted that the employee at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex had not been in the facility since Sept. 8.

The prison was the site of a COVID-19 outbreak earlier in the summer, with a total of about 198 inmates and 13 staff members infected before it was brought under control.

While data is still being collected on some of the people infected, the latest cases include a 45-year-old male who was asymptomatic but tested positive and is reported resting at home, presumably quarantined.

Other cases from yesterday whose data have been recorded included a 34-year-old male and a male under the age of 18. Nearly all of the recent cases have come from the north end of the county.

An 82-year-old woman reported earlier is hospitalized at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center, and a 70-year-old man reported Monday was resting at home; both of them reside in the north county area.

The county health department reported a 2.29 percent positivity rate for those tested between Sept. 6 and 20, but the five new cases reported Monday will possibly increase that rate. The state set a goal of remaining below a five percent positivity rate across the state; any higher and it will mean the state is not doing the job to control the spread of the virus.

Earlier, CCPH director Andrea Carlstrom said she didn’t think Labor Day activities were behind the case growth recently. During Monday’s COVID-19 Leadership roundtable she had alerted county leaders to the expected rise in cases, saying that the CCPH was “investigating several probable cases and suspected cases.”

In other developments, Columbine Manor Care Center, where an early outbreak resulted in a number of deaths among residents, has now announced it will accept new residents.

“Following the guidance of local and state health agencies, we are now accepting new residents. However, due to COVID-19 cases in the local community and the influx of tourists in our area, we are not currently allowing outside visitors, based on the recommendation of the local health department.”

The website for Columbine Manor declared its spring outbreak ended as of the end of May. A total of 17 patients who were ill with the virus died.

Featured image: the Chaffee County COVID-19 Dashboard, reporting a rise in cases after low numbers in mid-July to the end of August.