The post-Christmas holiday period may bring more COVID-19 cases to Chaffee County as well as the state, health officials warn, meaning perhaps more grim numbers to be dealt with in the first few months of 2021. Even lower rates of infection in the short term, while encouraging, may be offset by surging numbers a short while later, due to the millions of Americans who traveled for the Christmas holiday.
During the holiday break, Chaffee County Public Health saw some decline in virus infection numbers, with 32 cases reported in the past week, 91 in the past two weeks. The local positivity rate among those tested has declined to 5.65 percent.
As of Monday, there had been 225 cases since Dec. 1 in Chaffee County, and a total of 864 cases since the start of the pandemic, not counting 95 reported as ‘out-of-county’ cases, perhaps detected here through testing. There have been a total of 22 deaths among infected people, 15 directly caused by the virus.
While injections of anti-virus vaccines have just started for healthcare workers and first responders, the distribution of future vaccines is still being decided among county stakeholders and will most likely take some months to complete for all residents.
In the state of Colorado, as of Sunday, Dec. 27, there were 323,619 cases, with nearly 4,600 deaths among those infected, 3,605 directly due to COVID-19. A total of 17,860 people have been hospitalized, with an increasing positivity rate of 6.35 percent.
On Sunday afternoon, the U.S. death toll surpassed 331,000 according to data from Johns Hopkins University — meaning 1 in 1,000 Americans have died of Covid-19.
On another somber note, health officials designated December as the deadliest month for COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.
At least 63,575 deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded so far this month, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. April held the previous record of 60,738 deaths. This past Saturday, Johns Hopkins reported 186,164 new cases and 1,494 deaths.
The staff at CCPH, while continuing to plead with residents to stay the course with necessary precautions such as wearing masks, practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing and using sanitizers while the rollout of vaccines get underway, sounded a positive note:
“We hope everyone’s holiday season has been filled with happiness. Since the pandemic continues to be a part of our lives, it’s important to remember that our personal social choices can slow the spread of the virus in our community. Following the five commitments to containment needs to happen simultaneously with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“So, as always, stay home if you are feeling sick, wash your hands, properly wear a mask in public, social distance and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Also, if you recently traveled for the Christmas holiday, please consider getting tested at our Wednesday COVID-19 testing clinic at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds.”
“Getting tested at this time is one step in helping not just our community as a whole, but also acts as a helpmate to our local schools, teachers and students. It’s vital that the school districts are able to transition safely to in-person learning in January. We care about our future generations and their physical, mental AND emotional wellbeing. We care about YOU.”