Two more people have died from COVID-19 in the last few days, bringing Chaffee County’s total to six deaths as of Friday. Five of the deaths are connected to Columbine Manor Care Center.

The latest COVID-19 case was a 67-year-old female resident of Columbine Manor, according to a press release from Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center. The patient was diagnosed with COVID-19 and had several other serious ailments. She was admitted to HRRMC Monday evening for conditions unrelated to COVID-19.

“We are saddened to report another death likely due to COVID-19 complications, and we continue to treat our patients with diligence and have the utmost commitment to their care, no matter their current medical status,” HRRMC CEO Bob Morasko said in the release.

A fifth death reportedly occurred Thursday night, also involving a resident of Columbine Manor.

The number of residential care centers in Colorado experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 climbed to 107 Saturday, an increase of 23 over two days. Columbine Manor is among those experiencing outbreaks.

Gov. Jared Polis provided an update to Coloradans Friday on the state’s response to COVID-19 and discussed more stringent guidance for long-term care facilities to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable.

“With so many vulnerable individuals and frontline health care staff in close contact, we want to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect our state’s most vulnerable Coloradans and stop the spread of the virus within long-term care facilities,” Polis said in a press release.

The governor and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued an updated public health order that will require long-term care facilities to create a detailed isolation plan and submit it to the health department for review by May 1.

The state will also be more focused on enforcement and compliance of the public health order, as well as providing more education and training to staff to keep vulnerable communities safe. Critical protocols include restricting visitation to the facilities and requiring facilities to screen staff and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 before they go to the facility.

Countywide, there are currently 57 cases of COVID-19 with 42 linked to the outbreak at Columbine Manor. One case is tied to the correctional facility in Buena Vista.

One COVID-19-positive patient is currently being treated at HRRMC.

The latest available tally for COVID-19 cases in Colorado is 9,433, requiring 1,797 hospitalizations. Statewide, 411 people have reportedly died from COVID-19.

Polis also signed an executive order to further protect workers and residents in residential care facilities, as well as many other critical industries. The order, which can be found at drive.google.com/file/d/1fD1xqzAhwzRmiC8FnYEJYDdvnvp6vF4I/view?usp=sharing, requires workers at critical businesses to wear non-medical face coverings while at work and to wear gloves (if gloves are provided by an employer) when in contact with customers or goods. 

While the number of COVID-19 cases statewide has climbed by more than 2,000 in the last week, discussions are also beginning about how to start reopening the economy.

During a virtual town hall meeting Friday, Chaffee County Commissioner Greg Felt said conversations about how we talk about reopening are just starting, but it will likely be “a very gradual, incremental process” where the county would take one step at a time and then monitor the results. He said there was currently no timeline for when things could start to reopen.

From our sister paper The Mountain Mail at www.themountainmail.com

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