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New COVID-19 cases in Chaffee County have spiked sharply in the past three days, including at least nine cases reported among Department of Corrections (DOC) staff at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex, who live in Chaffee County (13 total reported staff cases).

Besides the DOC staff, there have been eight more community cases listed since Oct. 14, including a 25-year-old female from the north end of the county who is hospitalized with the disease.

There was no immediate information provided on whether inmates have also been infected again at the facility, which had an outbreak that affected 198 inmates and about 22 staff earlier. That outbreak was declared under control in mid-September. The 198 inmates are listed as recovered.

DOC public relations staff have been asked for more details on the outbreak and procedures being undertaken to control it, but have so far offered no explanation as to why staff would account for its new cases.

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC) lists two COVID-19 patients being treated currently. A 77-year-old man was previously reported hospitalized there with the virus and now the 25-year-old female mentioned above.

Since Oct. 1, there have been 37 total new cases in Chaffee County reported and the updated posted positivity rate between Oct. 4 and Oct. 18 has more than doubled from  1.72 percent to 4.01 percent.

Statewide, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment lists more than 83,000 Colorado cases overall, with 2,172 deaths among reported cases; 2,042 directly due to COVID-19. The state seven-day moving average of hospitalizations stands at 898 as of Oct. 19, with the seven-day moving average of 56 new hospitalizations daily.

The state positivity rate as of Oct. 19 was pegged at 5.27 percent, while the Chaffee County positivity rate has topped four percent. The goal, according to Chaffee County Public Health is to keep this number under five percent; higher and it could overwhelm our medical center. Only a month ago the county’s positivity rate was barely over 1.3 percent.

Nearby, in the San Luis Valley (SLV), a health official there reported sharp increases in cases since the start of the month. Linda Smith, a coordinator with the San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership provided these numbers:

“On October 1st, our cumulative total cases was 538. Today our total has reached 624 in the San Luis Valley, as reported on the state’s website. There were 10 local COVID-related hospitalizations in the two-week period ending October 17.”

The SLV currently has 69 known active COVID-19 cases.

Alamosa County- 32 active cases

Conejos County – 10 active cases

Costilla County – 2 active cases

Mineral County – 0 active cases

Rio Grande County – 10 active cases

Saguache County – 15 active cases