Chaffee County Public Health reported Friday a 51-year-old man succumbed to COVID-19, to which he was probably exposed during out-of-town activities. He is the 15th victim to die in Chaffee County. 

“This is a reminder that the virus is very much a threat to the lives of the people we love the most. Fifteen Chaffee County lives have been lost due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, while there have been 20 deaths among confirmed and probable cases,” a press release stated.

The news comes on the heels of a two-week case count of 57 as of Friday and an announcement by CCPH that the county will be implementing a mitigation plan designed to slow the current increase in cases throughout the county. 

While Chaffee County remains in the yellow zone on the state’s level of response dial, several elements of the mitigation plan include steps on the orange level restrictions.

CCPH warned that it is quite likely the county will be moving into the more restrictive orange level in the near future and to be prepared.

Effective today the following will go into effect until further notice:

• Indoor places of worship are 25 percent capacity or 50 whichever is less, virtual strongly recommended.

• Only necessary events can take place until further notice following the 25 percent or 25 person cap using the distancing calculator if standing or 6 feet distancing between parties if seated for indoors and 25 percent or 50 person cap using the distancing calculator if standing or 6 feet distancing for seated for outdoors.  

• In-person events are highly discouraged at this time.

• Non-school related group sports and activities are limited to virtual or outdoors in groups less than 10 with no close contact if there is not a specific sector guidance available.  

An exemption would be if a group already has a CCPH supported plan in place.

• Personal gathering size is limited to 10 with no more than two households indoors or outdoors.  

• Group sizes seated together at restaurants or at start/finish areas for sporting events should exceed no more than six.

• Encouraging remote work and staggered shifts for all business sectors to reduce number of people working together in-person.

• Except for critical business or critical operations of the county, voluntary 14-day self-quarantine is strongly recommended when unnecessary out of county travel or participation in a risky activity (lack of distancing and mask wearing) occurs- before and after.

• All residents who have engaged in activities that pose risk should seek out testing, especially if becoming symptomatic with any COVID-19 symptom.

Andrea Carlstrom, Chaffee County Public Health director and incident command for COVID-19 said, “While we were quite successful over the summer and early fall in reducing the spread of COVID-19, it is clear that additional measures must be implemented in order to get ahead of what is looking like a very challenging winter.  

“We are working with CDPHE to implement the strategies that will have the least impact on the local economy and education while discouraging social gatherings and events that bring people physically close together.  

“While other counties are being required to move entirely to a more restrictive level, we are doing everything we can to avoid or at least slow this transition for Chaffee County.  

“My plea to our entire county is to please wear a mask (even if you have been skeptical in the past), distance yourselves from others beyond household members, avoid in-person gatherings whenever possible, rethink travel plans, and take care of one another.  

“The greater restrictions are not meant to create policing between neighbors or enforcement concerns.  All of us are being asked to make some tough decisions regarding holiday plans over the next few months, and they may differ from household to household.  

“It is up to all of us to do what is right so that we can avoid a Stay at Home order in the future,” she said.  

For more information on the statewide COVID-19 dashboard and dial, visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/data/covid-19-dial/covid-19-dial-dashboard

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