Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A microscopic image of the COVID-19 virus. Image courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Laboratories of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The U.S. passed a grim statistic yesterday, with more than half a million confirmed cases of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, and U.S. deaths from the virus topping 18,000, so far.

The human tragedy is mounting, as the pandemic rolls across the country, with hot spots in major cities, nursing homes, correctional institutions, homeless shelters and in churches that refuse to close. Some 44 of the 50 states have instituted stay-at-home orders.

The Colorado Department of Public Health updates the mounting statistics in this state every day at 4 p.m. As of 4 p.m. April 10 Colorado cases had topped 6,500.

Colorado Statistics:

Cases                             6,510

Hospitalized                1,312

Counties affected            56

People tested           32,653

Deaths                            250

Outbreaks                       59

According to the state, Chaffee County has 27 confirmed cases, lower than the county’s count; but this demonstrates the reality that official case counts are lagging behind the actual situation on the ground, county-to-county. Mountain counties surrounding Chaffee continue to have significantly higher rates of COVID-19 infection:

County              Cases       Rate per 100,000 pop.

El Paso                  550             76.99

Eagle                     426           776.48

Gunnison              101           588.13

Summit                   61           196.95

Pitkin                      47           262.88

Chaffee                   27           134.81

This past week Colorado saw its single largest, one-day jump in cases. Colorado, say health experts and those who crunch the statistics, is  nowhere near the peak of the pandemic in our state. They aren’t willing yet to say exactly when that might occur. What they do say is that what we are doing, staying home and social distancing, is the only effective tool we have right now against a virus for which there is no vaccine.

“Social distancing is working,” said Chaffee Director of Public Health Andrea Carlstrom during one of her daily public health briefings this past week. “Here in Colorado by practicing this together, by going home and staying home, we are flattening the curve and hopefully reducing the peak, whenever it comes.”

The need to flatten the curve, reinforced over the past few weeks, is particularly critical in rural communities, say the experts. The case rates (shown above) demonstrate the urgency. With more limited health care facilities that metropolitan areas, rural hospitals in our mountain communities could easily be overwhelmed with cases if we all show up at once.