COLORADO SPRINGS — Following a press conference with Gov. Jared Polis saying two people have tested as "presumptive positive" for COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus, the Grand County Office of Emergency Management announced there is a third suspected case of the virus in the state.
According to a Facebook post, a patient was transported from Grand County to a facility on the Front Range for testing Thursday and the results of that test are expected on Friday.
Polis said his office received word of the second positive result before the planned press conference to announce the first positive test. A release from state health officials Thursday said the first case involves a man in his 30s who was visiting Summit county from out-of-state and that he had known exposure to the virus through a person outside of Colorado who contracted the virus.
He arrived at Denver International Airport on Feb. 29 with no symptoms and traveled to Summit County, where he went skiing at Keystone and Vail Mountain Resort. He developed symptoms on March 3 and went to St. Anthony's Summit Medical Center the next day. On March 4, a specimen was taken to the lab for testing, and came back positive on March 5.
The Governor's office has been in touch with DIA and with Vail Resorts, which operates both resorts the man reported visiting. The man was moved to lower altitudes for health reasons and is now recovering in Jefferson County. Those he was in close contact with in Colorado have received quarantine instructions.
The second case is an elderly woman who lives in Douglas County. According to the latest release from the governor's office, she returned to Colorado from international travel and is currently isolated at her home, per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both people tested positive at the state level and the samples are being sent to the CDC to confirm the results.
The state is acting on "presumptive positive" cases such as this one as if they were confirmed in order to ensure a quick response and minimize the spread of the virus. Public health officials are investigating and will work to notify anyone else who may have been exposed because of this case.
Officials said Thursday that the travels of the two people who tested positive were not believed to have put a large number of people at risk of contracting the virus. The health department also said while the risk of contracting the virus is low for most Coloradans, they expect more cases in the state.
El Paso County Public Health also has an up-to-date website with information about the virus. You can also contact them at 1-877-462-2911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado public health officials say the best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to take simple precautions:
- Practice good hygiene. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water; use hand sanitizer if no soap is available; use a tissue or your elbow or sleeve to cover coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if you’re sick; keep your children home if they are sick. Talk to your employer about working from home if necessary.
Officials from El Paso County Public Health, El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs held a news conference together Thursday morning to provide information on the preparations in the region for COVID-19. At the time of the conference, there were no confirmed cases of the virus.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said both the city and county have been preparing for something like this for many years. He reiterated that this was an effort with other agencies, but it is also a community effort.
Part of the multi-agency effort, Commissioner Mark Waller with the Board of El Paso County Commissioners mentioned the community is in good hands for the virus situation. He said this virus has been monitored by El Paso County Public Health since December 2019. Waller said that the best defense is people being responsible for their safety by seeking credible information and practicing good hygiene.
In 2018, Director Jim Reid of the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management said a regional approach was created for situations like this. Reid said "we are all working hard" to protect our communities. While there was no confirmed cases in the state, El Paso County Public Health Deputy Director DeAnn Ryberg added they were not waiting to set up preparations to respond to this virus.
Those who believe they have COVID-19, they should be aware of the symptoms. El Paso County Public Health Regional Epidemiologist Marigny Klaber said to call ahead to an emergency room or urgent care if you believe you are showing symptoms, one of which is a high fever over 100 degrees.
She mentioned that washing your hands is the best defense to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can also clean or disinfect the areas around you and stay home if you are sick. The biggest recommendation shared is that if you are sick, keep away from others and stay home.
As the situation evolves, Ryberg said the resources will be reassessed to figure out what is necessary to work on the situation.
Local stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe's, have taken a hit in the area due to the panic of the virus. People have been stocking up on masks, hand sanitizer and certain cleaning supplies at these stores.
Colorado High School Activities Association commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green released a statement Wednesday regarding the illness and Colorado events:
I am in contact with multiple state and local agencies in regards to any changes that may occur with CHSAA culminating championships. The state and local agencies as well as our facility administrators have me on their "high alert" communications. If there are closures, logistics will be communicated to the membership and posted to CHSAANow immediately.
My suggestion is that these discussions and contingency plans happen at the local level should a school terminate contact and the state event still contested. Our plan is to conduct the championship events unless directed by state agencies and/or facility administration of cancellations.
The safety and well-being of our participants, staffs, volunteers and fans will be in the forefront of all decisions.