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The recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Chaffee County is being closely monitored by Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) as more restrictive measures were ordered after state health officials designated the county at high risk (Level Orange).

Trend in community spread may force tighter measures. Image courtesy CCPH

The latest report by Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom finds an increase of 140 new cases in the past two weeks, 80 just in the past week, with an infection rate now pegged at 5.26 percent.  A new trend in community spread appears to be emerging: runny nose, allergies or sinus MAY be a sign of something worse – see graphic at right; protect yourself and help stop the spread before even more tighter measures may be required of everyone.

At the state level, the numbers continue to grow. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) reports that total infections have reached more than 264,600 cases with 3,358 deaths among those cases. Nearly 15,000 people have been hospitalized and the positivity rate in Colorado tops 12.3 percent.

Officials fear some facilities could be facing a lack of bed space and adequate personnel if the surge continues to build. CDPHE already says 40 percent of acute care ventilators are in use.

An FDA panel on Thursday will consider an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine now being used in England, and two other manufacturer’s vaccines could also soon be approved for emergency use.

While health care workers and higher risk patients could be first in line, questions over supply and distribution may well mean general population availability would not arrive until late spring or summer.

“The availability of a COVID-19 vaccine is a major turning point in this pandemic, and we will act as swiftly as possible to get it distributed once it is approved,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director, CDPHE. “We are working closely with local public health agencies, hospitals and other health care providers, pharmacies, and diverse community partners to distribute and administer the vaccine as equitably and efficiently as possible. Because of limited quantities, it will take several months to get the vaccine to everyone who wants it – so we need Coloradans to continue to take all possible measures to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Nationally, health experts worry about a grim scenario brought on by the holidays, often without proper protection procedures followed by people traveling for family visits.

Currently, the virus is blamed for more than 280,000 deaths and almost 15 million confirmed infections in the U.S. Some analysts say that’s nearly one in every 22 residents who’ve been infected.