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In a message sent early this morning from Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) Executive Director Andrea Carlstrom, comes the news that the community spread of COVID-19  has moved from low to high.

“Our county’s CDC community level moved from LOW to HIGH after the CDC updated its dashboard last night,” said Carlstrom. “As I have reminded everyone in the past, it is expected that we will move between levels due to the incorporation of hospital data.

The county’s seven-day positivity rate is close to 15 percent, which is lower than last week, but higher than the five percent positivity threshold established early in the pandemic as the point at which community spread was considered controlled. The rate is likely higher, as many people are doing at-home tests, and not reporting the results to the state Department of Public Health, so they don’t appear in the CDC dashboard.

Centers for Disease Control Weekly Metrics for COVID-19 Community Spread:

Case Rate per 100,000 population                                                                                  225.98
New COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population                                                        21.1
Percent of Staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with confirmed COVID-19        0 percent

Several other Colorado counties also moved into a “high” level of transmission: Lake, Eagle, Pitkin, Summit, Pueblo County, Huerfano, Mesa, Garfield, and Rio Blanco, among them.

Much of the spread of COVID-19 across the United States at this time is the BA.5 variant, which while less deadly, but  highly contagious because this particular version of the virus is more adept at evading preexisting immunity than other strains.

Carlstrom says that CCPH recommended actions based on the current level of community spread include getting vaccinated if you have not this year, and considering getting the second COVID-19 booster shot to maintain a high level of immunity.

“Wear a mask indoors in public and on public transportation,” said Carlstrom. “Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. Get tested if you have symptoms. If you are at high risk for severe illness, consider taking additional precautions.”

People should be aware that even though we wish to move on from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, it has not moved on from us. It is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Just this week President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID, and they still don’t know where in his busy schedule he contracted it.

Note: The COVID-19 Community Level and associated metrics presented above are updated by the CDC weekly on Thursday night.