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Sheriff’s Office and Treasurer’s Department address separate COVID-related concerns

Monday afternoon, the Chaffee County Jail is reporting a COVID-19 outbreak involving staff and detainees. The entire 44 person inmate population was tested over the weekend; eight inmates had a positive COVID-19 test result, with only one of those cases reportedly symptomatic.

Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office Vehicle ( Image courtesy of 5280 Fire photographer Rick Luebke Photo)

These detained individuals are being physically separated from others at the jail facility within an isolation pod. Four staff members have also tested positive for COVID-19 and are also now isolating at home. The Sheriff’s Office command staff says that it is working closely with Chaffee County Public Health to complete testing of the balance of the department’s staff members and for on-going guidance on site-level protections.

Tracy Jackson, Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office Detentions Commander, shares that, “Detention Center staff continue to follow COVID precautions and protocols to minimize exposure and logistically accommodate those in isolation. Medical staff is on hand every day to assess inmate status and attend to those who are symptomatic.”

Chaffee County Administration Building. Photo by Jan Wondra.

The Chaffee County Treasurer’s Office located at 104 Crestone is closed this week due to a possible COVID-19 exposure concern that is unrelated to the Jail outbreak.

As a precaution, the Treasurer’s Office will conduct its work remotely through Friday, April 9th while all staff self-quarantine. Public needing assistance from the Treasurer’s Office are asked to contact staff via phone or through email as listed at https://www.chaffeecounty.org/Treasurer.

“It is clear that we are not out of the woods yet and COVID continues to be present in our community,” said Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom. “It is so important for us all to get vaccinated to protect ourselves and each other against COVID infection. Chaffee County Public Health and our other local providers have ample vaccine supply on hand for our community and we urge our residents and all County employees to take advantage of this.”

“It is important to sign up for an appointment as soon as they can. We have multiple 1st dose clinics scheduled for this week and next week, including for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Friday, April 9,” Carlstrom added. “It’s easy to sign up for an appointment at https://chaffeecounty.rsvpify.com. I also urge all residents and visitors to continue to follow five precautions: remaining at home if ill or exposed, practicing good hand hygiene, wearing a mask indoors, maintaining physical distancing, and getting tested if symptomatic. We can’t give up on our efforts now!”

The COVID-19 vaccines were given emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration for distribution nationwide. It should be noted that when COVID-19 vaccines became available, a discussion was held over the county’s legal policies, and whether or not to require vaccination against COVID for county staff. At the time the decision was made not to require that the county’s public employees be vaccinated.

No statistics have been made available regarding the number of county employees who have been vaccinated, but comments made in public meetings appear to indicate that a significant percentage of the county’s first responders had yet to receive the vaccine.