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Coronavirus case count remains low in Aspen area

This undated photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus. (CDC via AP)
Virus Outbreak Testing

Aspen Valley Hospital continues to see a small number of patients testing positive for COVID-19.

At AVH’s monthly board of directors meeting held Monday over a video conference call, hospital CEO David Ressler said the low number of positive cases show the community overall is staying true to protocols intended to contain the disease’s spread — practicing social distancing and maintaining good hygiene, wearing face coverings in public places, staying home when sick, and getting tested if there are symptoms.

Still, Ressler cautioned, “This virus remains a serious threat to all of us.”

“And contrary to what some people want to believe or even represent in letters to the editor or in other forums, it is not just a threat to the elderly and vulnerable,” Ressler said, adding that “we are seeing a syndrome presenting in children that our medical community believes is tied directly to the virus.”

Results of a study published in May by JAMA Pediatrics concluded that “COVID-19 can result in a significant disease burden in children but confirms that severe illness is less frequent, and early hospital outcomes in children are better than in adults.

The hospital’s chief clinical officer, Lori Maloy, told board members that no in-patients had tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the past 15 days, while no pre-operation patients had tested positive in 16 days, and three days had gone without anyone with symptoms coming back positive.

The hospital learned Tuesday that an Eagle County resident tested at AVH on Monday came back with positive result.

“We report all of our positives to (counties’ community health departments, and that individual happened to be from Eagle County, so their community health will follow up with them,” Maloy said Tuesday.

Pitkin County has an overall infection rate of 5% among test recipients, Ressler said. That also includes 23 positive results of 418 PCR tests the hospital administered through May 31; that’s a 6% positive rate and doesn’t include 13 tests that were pending.

The most current information on Pitkin County’s COVID-19 web page showed the county has had 61 positive tests and two fatalities associated with the virus. The 60 to 69 age group accounts for the most positive results with 14. The 10 to 19 age group represents the lowest number — two.

The hospital continues to operate under the “comfortable” status in the three areas it uses to determine its operational capacity in the event of a surge of COVID-19 cases. The hospital’s status plays a key role in informing public health decisions.

To meet the comfortable status, AVH operations must have the following daily averages:

• Bed capacity is greater than 50% among the 16 beds in AVH’s progressive care unit and the four in intensive care;

• Fewer than six COVID-19-positive patients are in its emergency department;

• Fewer than 10 patients at the respiratory tent are reporting COVID-19 symptoms;

• Fewer than 16 individuals are taking the free community COVID-19 tests;

• Fewer than six essential health care workers —doctors, nurses, etc. — are out simultaneously with COVID-19 symptoms or sick with the coronavirus.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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