Department of Public Health and Environment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
First Case of COVID-19 Coronavirus Reported in San Miguel County
CONTACT: Susan Lilly, Public Information Officer, San Miguel County
(March 20, 2020) — San Miguel County, CO — San Miguel County Department of Public Health and Environment (SMCDPHE) learned late Thursday night of the county’s first positive case of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
The 54-year-old resident of San Miguel County was immediately notified by County Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Grundy. He reported recent US domestic travel and no known contact with anyone who was ill.
The married father returned home last week and began to experience symptoms, but he has been recovering well. Some members of his family have experienced minor symptoms and are already recovering. The patient and his family will remain in home isolation for 14 days.
Isolation is used by public health officials to separate sick individuals from the healthy population thereby restricting movement of the patient to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The patient will continue to be monitored by Public Health Officials who are also working with the man to identify those he may have had contact with over the last two weeks. Once identified the contacts will be placed in home quarantine for 14 days per CDC guidelines.
Local health officials have assumed COVID-19 was in our county but, like many other areas, experienced longer than expected delays getting test results back. As of last night, the county has sent 41 COVID-19 tests to labs and received 20 negative results so far. With this first positive case, there are now 20 outstanding.
An additional 100 tests were conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in the county on March 17th. Those results are expected Monday.
“We’ve moved past wondering when our first case would be confirmed and on to a model where we want to slow the rate of increase with shelter in place orders.” Grace Franklin, SMCDPHE Director said.
County Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Grundy said she thinks some of the messaging seems to be working. “This coronavirus may be novel, but strategies to prevent the spread of viruses are not,” Dr. Grundy said.
Meanwhile, the county in partnership with a private company is launching free, county-wide blood testing to evaluate who in the county population has been exposed. THIS is a different type of test than the COVID-19 tests used previously and on this patient.
Voluntary blood testing on the San Miguel County residents (ONLY) is projected to begin early next week.
There is no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, but more than 80% of the people who have become sick with this coronavirus have experienced mild respiratory illness with fever and a cough. Those who are at highest risk for complications are older adults, those with pre-existing conditions such as heart or lung disease, and those with compromised immune systems.
The Board of Health and county officials are carefully monitoring developments and are working closely with the county medical officer and public health director.
For coronavirus information visit: https://www.sanmiguelcountyco.gov/coronavirus
County Coronavirus Hotline: 970-728-3844.