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During the Monday, July 27 COVID-19 Roundtable, Chaffee leadership got an update on the situation with the coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19. While case counts have risen, most, but not all are due to the cases within the Buena Vista Corrections Complex (BVCC).

That said, a note of caution was sounded about how much residents and visitors are out and about in the county. The “Stay at Home social index” is gathered from satellite information for the location of mobile phones. Keeping this rate at 65 percent or higher (rates the county was at during March and April) is considered critical to reduce community spread and keep virus cases from spiking.

“The social index is looking really sad – it’s at the lowest rate we’ve been at since the pandemic began,” said Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) Director Andrea Carlstrom. “This past weekend it was at 35 percent. We’re just coming off what was a busy weekend downtown for both municipalities. I’m curious to hear from BV and Salida about this.”

“I think, with the storms, every camper in the county was in town over the weekend,” commented Salida Mayor P.T. Wood.

“We had had two new cases of community spread since last Thursday, a man, age 24, and a man, age 75,” said Carlstrom, adding that the county has 28 community cases outside the BVCC. “We just got a third new positive case in while I’ve been in this meeting.

The low infection rates in the rest of the county contrast with the BVCC. “Those cases brings our total cases of COVID-19 to 282, including facilities spread, since March,” said Carlstrom. She explained that CCPH is reconciling the case counts from the Department of Corrections. “We’re reconciling this roughly 189 count; which appears to be 180 inmates, and nine staff. We got a report from DOC today and we’re trying to figure out where we – or they — are missing cases.

COVID-19 microscopic public domain image from NIAID.nih.gov.

Testing remains a critical factor in controlling the spread of COVID-19; the more tests conducted the more statistically relevant the data becomes. According to Carlstrom, an important measurement is the percent of positivity.

“On July 14. one out of 68 tests was positive. On July 21, it was two out of 37 were positive,” said Carlstrom. “My perspective – the volume of positivity looks like the state remains below five percent, which is the goal.”

Carlstrom added, “The good news is we are getting test results back quicker than before. What was taking 12-14 days, we started to get last Tuesday’s results in this past Sunday.”

The county has hired two new contact tracers: one started Monday, the other begins next week.

Asked what other support would help public health, Carlstrom outlined a concept she is exploring. “I’m working with Dr. [Daniel] Lombardo, [Family Medicine Specialist in Salida, affiliated with Heart Of The Rockies Regional Medical Center] and the state lab to see what it would take to have Chaffee Public Health become a certified lab. My vision at this moment is to have a mobile lab so we could test through it … set up clinics for not just COVID-19, but flu vaccines. I’d love to have it in place for reopening of school….stay tuned.”

Carlstrom also announced that CCPH is working on creating a county COVID-19 data dashboard, with the help of a volunteer who stepped up to help last Friday.