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Health officials in Chaffee County and statewide are worrying about a large surge in COVID-19 cases since the Thanksgiving holiday brought more people together.

Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) latest figures show a sharp hike on Dec. 4 of 24 cases, the second-highest daily total, with scores more tests apparently awaiting results, according to the county dashboard graphics.

The latest totals show 90 cases in the past week, 130 over the past two weeks and 688 cases since the pandemic began, not counting 64 so-called out-of-county cases detected. Case trendlines recently have moved sharply upward. The two-week positivity rate (Nov. 20 to Dec. 4) stands at 5.15 percent.

There have been 20 confirmed and probable deaths in the county since the virus hit.

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center reports just one patient being treated for COVID-19 currently, and it reports being at 60 percent of capacity.

Statewide, the numbers are not encouraging since the holiday break, with a total of more than 252,000 cases and more than 3,300 deaths among those infected.

Some 14,700 people are hospitalized, according to the latest report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the seven-day positivity rate sits above 12 percent.

About 21 percent of hospital beds are occupied by known or suspect COVID-19 patients, and about 50 percent of critical care ventilators are already in use, CDPHE stated.

Vaccines are coming, but months-away for most

While the release of vaccines by the government is eagerly awaited, experts remind that the process will be long and slow, taking many months before most Americans will be receiving them.

Colorado’s public health officials have ordered the first 46,800 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, assuming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet on Dec. 10 and presumably approve emergency use authorization. That vaccine requires two doses and must be stored and shipped under extremely cold conditions. Under the state’s draft distribution plan, the first doses will go to hospital workers, including those at long-term care facilities. Experts say it will be at least until spring before the general public gets vaccine shots.

The Denver Post reports a vaccine test simulation shipment by the state recently was only partially successful, with one shipment of mock medical supplies ending up in another state – Kentucky.

Nationally, the numbers are sobering, with the U.S. setting a new record of 3,100 deaths in a single day, more than 100,000 people hospitalized with the virus and new infections have begun to exceed 200,000 each day. Overall, more than 14 million Americans have contracted the virus and more than 279,000 have died.

Much more information and tips are available on the Chaffee County Public Health website at