Letter: COVID-19 awareness

This morning reading the headline, “Student tests positive,” should bring about a realization that Steamboat Springs will not be spared. 

Steamboat needs to wake up. I am an emergency medicine doctor, and we have lived in Steamboat for 10 years. (No, I do not work at Yampa Valley Medical Center). I work in Phoenix at large tertiary centers and saw first hand the tragic spike of cases and more death, resuscitations and critically ill patients in two weeks than I have any other week of 15 years of my career. 

COVID-19 is real; pneumonia, renal failure, associated pulmonary embolism and strokes are real. The majority of the hundreds of patients that I cared for are in the 40 to 65 age range. One of my most memorable patients was a 27-year-old female 10 days after having her baby, presented with respiratory distress and quickly ended up intubated on a ventilator. This is a real disease and has the potential to affect all, not just the old or pre-existing conditions.

Phoenix, and Arizona in general, took the attitude that they were immune initially, with opening bars, restaurants, gyms, everything without much thought. The result was a spike in numbers, and at the peak, a positive test rate of greater than 25%. Colorado took the more restrictive approach, and it has made a difference. Steamboat has the benefit of being a small community, and contact tracing measures to keep the positive rate down will make a difference.

Everyone should be concerned with the last two days of news in Steamboat Pilot & Today — five positive from a family get-together, 10 positive in a hunting camp, a student positive at school. Let’s take the opportunity as a community to shut this down. 

Routt County Public Health has the resources for testing for everyone. Please let’s start testing more. Yes, social distancing does make a difference. Avoid the bar, avoid sitting with groups drinking beers. These measures do make a difference. If we can keep the numbers down, we can continue to enjoy our Colorado.


Susan S. Watson, DO, FACOEP
Emergency medicine physician

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