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The rate of COVID-19 infections continues to climb in Chaffee County, as it does across the state. Local and state health officials are working to adjust to new disease status levels and looking for better public cooperation with health restrictions.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) statistics list the Chaffee County two-week incidence rate at 338.98 per 100,000 people; less than many counties surrounding Chaffee, but significantly higher than only a few weeks ago.


The local positivity rate among those tested is approaching six percent for the first 15 days of this month, with at least a dozen more cases since then. At least 80 cases have been reported since Nov. 1. For perspective, earlier this past summer, Chaffee Director of Public Health Andrea Carlstrom told the COVID-19 Roundtable that Chaffee needed to keep its COVID cases under five percent to avoid both community spread, and stressing our hospital facilities.

The Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) dashboard shows nearly 200 tests awaiting results. It’s currently unclear whether any of those tests involve inmates and staff from the Buena Vista Correctional Complex (BVCC) where there is an outbreak.

The outbreak, confirmed back on Oct. 21 has thus far affected at least 49 inmates and 19 staff members, lab-confirmed, according to CDPHE data.

In Colorado as of Nov. 18, health officials listed 4,629 cases in the seven-day moving average, a seven-day positivity rate of 12.88 percent, and more than 2, 650 deaths among those infected. 1,428 people are hospitalized with confirmed cases, another 165 are suspected cases.

Statewide, 86 percent of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds are in use, as well as 47 percent of adult critical care ventilators.

Statewide, new public health orders have been issued to coincide with changes made in the state COVID status dial. It is expected that Chaffee County, which has remained in the yellow (concern) level category, will move to a stronger orange (high risk) level restrictions. The county is surrounded by counties moving from orange (high risk) to red (severe risk).

The CDPHE explanation said most of the substantive changes are in the dial levels as summarized in the updated capacity restrictions. The new levels are effective Friday, November 20th.

  • The Dial adds a sixth level, Purple, and revises Level Red accordingly.
  • Individuals at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 remain advised to stay in their residence at all levels of the Dial.
  • Additionally, the definition of individuals at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is revised to align with the revised CDC definition, which added pregnant individuals as well as individuals who smoke to the list.
  • Remote working is strongly encouraged throughout the Dial, particularly in Levels Yellow through Purple.
  • Casinos are now allowed to operate their slot machines in Level Orange, table games are only allowed in Level Green.
  • Critical retail is subject to the 50 percent occupancy limit and strongly encouraged to take extraordinary measures in Level Purple to implement more curbside, take out and delivery options to reduce in-person services to the minimum necessary.
  • Both libraries and animal grooming were added to the list of critical businesses.

Officials are concerned that the Thanksgiving holiday may mean get-togethers that could further spread the virus, especially if family members travel to be together in larger groups.

The CDPHE issued the following suggestions to stay safer:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) advises Coloradans to only interact in-person with people from their household this Thanksgiving to help slow the alarming spread of COVID-19. This holiday season is an opportunity to reimagine what togetherness can look like and come up with creative ways to celebrate loved ones while making sure they stay healthy for many more years to come.

Dos and don’ts for Thanksgiving celebrations:

  • Do cook and eat a special meal with members of your immediate household.
  • Do video chat or talk on the phone with friends and family who don’t live with you.
  • Do wear a mask and keep six feet of distance from others while grocery shopping for your Thanksgiving feast.
  • Don’t travel to visit family and friends in other households.

See all Thanksgiving guidelines on the State website at