2 out-of-state visitors to Routt County in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19
Currently no evidence of community spread, according to officials
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Two people visiting Steamboat Springs from out of state are the first two cases of COVID-19 in Routt County. The cases were confirmed Friday, March 13, by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The visitors, a man in his 50s and a woman in her 20s, are currently being quarantined in a private residence at an undisclosed location, according to Routt County public health authorities. The two people were exposed to COVID-19 outside of the community.
“We are unable to disclose the location of the individuals due to media release guidelines from the CDPHE,” said Kari Ladrow, director of Routt County Public Health. “But we would like to reassure the public, they are not interfacing with others in the community.”
Both individuals have mild symptoms and are doing well, according to Routt County Public Health Officer Dr. Brian Harrington.
The individuals went skiing at Steamboat Resort and grocery shopping in the area before they knew they’d been exposed to the coronavirus, according to a news release from the Routt County Department of Public Health.
“The only locations identified during local contact tracing were shopping at a local grocery store, and they went skiing on Saturday (March 7),” the news release stated. “Once the individuals were notified of potential exposure, they immediately went into self-quarantine and have been cooperative with the quarantine pending test results.”
According to Harrington, local officials were notified about the possible coronavirus cases by the state health department on Monday, March 9, at which time the two people were located and put into quarantine.
“We feel fortunate that we had early opportunity with these two individuals to isolate them from the community,” Harrington said. “The patients did not meet CDC’s guideline for close contact with other individuals while here in Steamboat Springs.”
Harrington emphasized the two individuals did not know they had been in contact with a positive case until well after the arrived in Steamboat.
County officials were not notified of the positive test results until Friday, March 13.
“We have already conducted initial contact investigation to determine if there were any other potential exposures,” Ladlow said. “Local public health officials initiated the local contact tracing investigation as soon as they were notified of this potential exposure, and at this time, there is no evidence of community spread.”
As of Friday, March 13, Steamboat Resort announced it is staying open for the foreseeable future but has canceled public events, including concerts and Cody’s Challenge, because of the coronavirus. To increase social distancing that health experts say is important to deter the spread of the virus, the resort is not loading unrelated parties into gondola cabins. It also is ramping up sanitation measures across the ski area.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, community spread means “people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.”
The state will now take over the investigation, because the cases involve out-of-state visitors.
“Routt County Public Health is working closely with CDPHE to work with each family and to protect the health and safety of Coloradans,” Ladlow said. “CDPHE will be the lead on contact tracing state to state.”
The cases are considered “presumptive positive” until confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.
Routt County commissioners, who serve as the county’s board of health, and Routt County Emergency Management are also actively involved on a daily basis with planning and decision making, Ladrow said.
According to Ladrow, the investigation is ongoing, and the state department of health and local health agencies are continuing to gather more information and contact any individuals who may have had close contact with the infected individuals.
“The Yampa Valley is a strong community,” Harrington said. “I think we have a rich tradition of taking care of each other. As this issue develops, I ask everybody in the community to be supportive of each other, to be considerate of the many factors involved, know there are a lot of people who have already put in a lot of work and effort to prepare for today. We are all in this together.”
Before immediately heading to the hospital, people who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 have several resources, including:
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is providing a phone line to answer questions from the public about COVID-19. Call CO-Help at 303-389-1687 or 877-462-2911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for answers in English and Spanish, Mandarin and more.
- UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center offers Ask-A-Nurse, a 24/7 call line staffed by registered nurses who can assess symptoms and provide advice on seeking care. In Routt County, Ask-A-Nurse can be reached by calling 970-871-7878.
- Virtual Visits can be done from the comfort of your home and only require a computer or tablet with a working webcam, speakers and microphone, or a smartphone.
- If patients are experiencing severe symptoms or having difficulty breathing, they should visit the hospital’s emergency department.
Take precautions in everyday life:
- Frequently and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or use your inner elbow or sleeve.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home if you’re sick and keep your children home if they are sick.
- Clean surfaces in your home and personal items such as cell phones, using regular household products.
- Be calm but be prepared.
- Employees at businesses and customers are required to wear a mask, according to a statewide public health order.
- Limit distance between non-household members to 6 feet when indoors and outdoors.
- The maximum group size for indoor activities is 10.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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Twenty months after the South Routt School District announced it would close because of a burgeoning coronavirus, COVID-19 is more prevalent in South Routt than ever before.