Coronavirus in Eagle County: Woman in her 50s is first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 | AspenTimes.com
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Coronavirus in Eagle County: Woman in her 50s is first presumptive positive case of COVID-19

Pitkin County officials say Friday evening virus not in valley at this time

Vail Daily Staff Report
A coronavirus test kit, which is a part of exported aid supplies, is displayed at a World Health Organization, WHO, facility, part of the International Humanitarian City, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, March 5, 2020.
AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

A woman in her 50s visiting Eagle County is among the six new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 identified Friday in Colorado. The woman was exposed to COVID-19, the new coronavirus, during international travel. As local COVID-19 concerns increased, Friday afternoon Vail Health began screening patients prior to entrance into the Vail hospital

The patient in Eagle County was not hospitalized and is recovering in isolation. The patient is working with public health officials in the ongoing investigation to identify people that may have had close exposure. The case is presumptive positive, which means test results haven’t yet been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Eagle County Department of Public Health and Environment also announced Friday that a potential patient connected to Eagle County Schools returned a negative test.

PITKIN COUNTY UPDATES

Pitkin County Public Health officials have a few ways to get updates on the coronavirus:

— Local information can be found at pitkincounty.com/coronavirus.

— A Pitkin County Public Health Facebook page has been launched to share information.

— Subscribe to Pitkin Alert for text message updates. Text the number 888 777 and write CVIRUS in the message.

— Real-time information about the virus is available on the Colorado Health Emergency Hotline: 1-877-462-2911.

Friday update: Pitkin County officials said as of 5 p.m. Friday they did not have any persons under investigation (PUIs) and have not sent out any tests to the state.

On Wednesday, after Eagle County Schools learned that the CDC had changed its guidelines on travel from Italy, Iran, and South Korea, it alerted students and staff members from Battle Mountain High School who had traveled to Italy in February.

“Consequently, our students and staff who went on the trip to Italy will need to stay home for the remainder of their self-monitoring period, which ends at 6 am on Saturday, as long as they are symptom-free,” read an email sent to Battle Mountain students and parents. “These students have been complying with the prior CDC protocol of self-monitoring for symptoms. One of the symptoms is fever, a condition that requires students and staff to stay home until they have been fever-free for 24-hours without the aid of medication anyway. With that in mind, we believe asking them to remain at home for the next few days is a technical requirement and nothing for concern. Symptoms may still develop and we are prepared with a response plan should it be necessary.”

In a news release, Eagle County Schools Superintendent Phil Qualman wrote “the patient’s parent emailed several other parents and staff members this news, connecting the case to our school system. The results of other tests in the county, none related to our schools, are still pending.

“There are many people in Eagle County who traveled to/from countries that have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks in recent weeks. Some are students and teachers in our system. Those in our system have all followed the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Eagle County Department of Public Health (Public Health) to self-monitor for COVID19 symptoms, fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.”

Latest from Summit County

On Thursday afternoon, a man tested positive for novel coronavirus in Summit County, the first known case of the disease in Colorado. During his time in the state, he skied at both Vail and Keystone.

Colorado and Summit County public health officials have been hard at work in a process called “contact tracing,” essentially trying to backtrack through the patient’s steps during his time in the area to identify individuals who came in close contact with him and determine whether they might have been exposed to the virus.

According to officials, the patient likely didn’t interact closely with many people after he began showing symptoms. He flew into Denver International Airport from California on Feb. 29 and drove a rental car to Summit County. Throughout his travels, he was asymptomatic and extremely unlikely to have spread the disease, officials said.

He first began showing initial symptoms Monday, March 2, a day he was skiing at Vail Mountain, according to Dan Hendershott, Summit County’s environmental health manager. He returned to his rental unit in Keystone and was sick the next day. On Wednesday, March 4, he was informed that a travel companion with whom he recently went to Italy had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and he reached out directly to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to inform them he might have contracted the disease.

He checked into St. Anthony Summit Medical Center later that day. Summit County officials have since lauded the man for taking steps to mitigate the potential spread of the illness. He was driven down to the Front Range by his fiancee, and he is currently recovering in isolation. His fiancee and two Denver friends with whom he was staying in Summit County have all been quarantined, as well.

COVID-19 in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s state lab had six additional presumptive positive tests Friday, which includes the Eagle County patient, following the first two positives on Thursday. At least five of the cases had an international travel history. The state is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on flights that may have had a COVID-19 case.  

The health department is releasing the following information about the other six cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. 

Denver County

  • One case in a man in his 40s. The investigation is ongoing. 
  • One case in a woman in her 70s, exposed during international travel.

Douglas County

  • One case in a school-aged female, exposed during international travel.
  • One case in a woman in her 40s, exposed during international travel. 
  • One case in a woman in her 70s, exposed during international travel. 

El Paso County

  • One case in a man in his 40s. The investigation is ongoing.

This week, the state laboratory expanded testing guidelines to ensure early detection– and slow down and limit transmission. 

“The increase in positive tests is not unexpected, and based on the experience of other states, the public health and health care systems have been preparing for additional cases,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, a former Eagle County Commissioner who is now the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Eagle County Public Health and its partners will focus their response efforts on slowing the spread of the disease, which will require the community’s assistance. 

Although more than 80% of people who have contracted COVID-19 have relatively mild illness, there are greater risks for complications among older adults, especially above the age of 80 years, as well as people with pre-existing health conditions.  

Identification of the first case in Eagle County is an important indicator. Health officials are reminding residents and guests that the individual precautions they can take to limit their exposure are the same precautions that can help slow the spread of COVID-19  within the community.  These precautions will also help protect people in our community who may be at greatest risk for complications if they get infected.

Protect yourself

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating or touching your mouth and nose.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

What to do if you’re sick

  • Stay home if you develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath. 
  • Wear a mask or cover your cough and sneeze.
  • Wash your hands frequently and don’t share personal items (drinking glass or utensils) with others.
  • Call your healthcare provider. Do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or the emergency department unannounced.
  • Your doctor’s office will assess your illness on the phone and provide information or guidance for you, household members, and other close contacts.
  • Testing for COVID-19 is not a routine test. Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and risk for the disease based on guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  
  • Since many of the illnesses are mild, we expect most COVID-19 patients will be isolated in their own home to rest and recover. If possible, sleep in a bedroom and use a bathroom that is not used by other household members.
  • There is no antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids will likely be helpful for recovery. Only the most critically ill will be hospitalized.

Public Health officials also recommend residents prepare for an emergency that might require them to stay at home for several days, including having food supplies, water and medications.

Those with questions about COVID-19 can call the CO HELP Hotline at 1-877-462-2911. Updates or changes in guidance will be posted to http://www.ECEmergency.org.

This is a developing story that will be updated. This story includes reports from the Summit Daily News.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the woman was visiting Eagle County and is not a resident.


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