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Chaffee County at its Highest Infection Rates for COVID since the Pandemic Began

Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom recently released the following tips and facts about current COVID-19 cases in the state:

“One in 48 Coloradans are infectious with COVID-19.  Event planners and participants need to understand that the likelihood of coming into contact with a contagious person, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, is real.  There is an alarming risk of transmission right now across the state.  Holding events where people are not wearing masks, vaccination status is unknown, indoors, and where crowds are in close quarters is extremely risky at this time.”

As of this morning, Nov. 9, the Chaffee County COVID-19 Dashboard shows an alarming rise in COVID cases that is happening real time: 101 cases in the past seven days, 190 cases in the past 14 days (the dashboard ticked up while this news story was being written). This is the highest rate of infection during the entire pandemic in this county. Yet the public continues to act as if the pandemic is over.

The COVID-19 Dashboard as of November 9, 2021.

“We are really relying on personal accountability and responsibility more than ever before and encourage venues holding events to think twice before they hold the event, using the tools and resources we have provided for many months to help us mitigate the spread of the virus.  Likewise, we encourage the public to think twice before they attend an event and opt out or leave events that feel unsafe.”

“There are fewer than 120 ICU beds left in the state. HRRMC is taking increased measures to prepare for a surge while many hospitals across the state are at almost double capacity, largely in part due to unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.  EMS will be doing the same.  Healthcare capacity is concerning.  We need to support our healthcare workers by mitigating the spread of this virus.”

“Go virtual if you have the opportunity to do so.  Or provide a hybrid option.”

“Continue to wear masks in indoor public settings.  And really do it.  We are concerned about the number of events, larger and smaller, that are reported to have dismal mask-wearing, especially when congregating close together.  It seems like every weekend lately, there have been at least one or two events that have the chance of being super spreader opportunities, creating quite the ripple effect in our community.”

“Avoid crowds, regardless of vaccination status. Get vaccinated.  Get boosted.  If you must remain unvaccinated for whatever reason, get tested before an event, but know that there very well could be a cost to it.  The vaccine is completely free and easy to access. Stay home when sick.”

COVID-19 delta variant. Image courtesy of WebMD

“Incidence rates are not really as important at this time as they have been in the past.  They are an indication of how so very busy we are at public health.  More so, we are monitoring hospitalizations, hospital capacity, and severe illness.  The vaccine is definitely working.”

“We have no choice but to streamline our efforts- putting isolation and quarantine instructions in the hands of positive cases to do the right thing, follow them, and share them with their close contacts,” she adds.  “The good news is that vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine but follow some very basic mitigation strategies.  In the upcoming days, we will have instructions given out at the time of the test and will be updating our website to make it very clear what to do and when, including at-home testing.”

Yet strangely just as this highest surge is occurring in Chaffee County, there are stores that have just removed their facemask required signage from their doors. Why?

The Chaffee Dashboard shows that 30 percent of the new COVID cases are children under age 18. We successfully made it through last year with in-person learning and no serious surges in this age group — why now is the county seeing children’s cases rise dramatically?