Routt County records 8 new COVID-19 positives, with 2 cases under 10 years old

Students returning to Steamboat Springs High School for the first few days of class earlier this month had their temperatures taken as the COVID-19 pandemic carried into another school year.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County reported eight new cases of COVID-19 between Oct. 5 and Oct. 11, bringing the county’s total to 171 cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the county’s new dashboard.

The new cases come as Colorado is experiencing a surge in both cases and hospitalizations due to the virus. Nearly 300 people in Colorado were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest total since May 31, The Denver Post reported.

While Gov. Jared Polis resisted the idea of new mandatory restrictions on businesses or other activities, according to the Associated Press, he warned: “If this continues, our hospital capacity will be in jeopardy.”

Hospitalizations in Routt County remain low, with just nine total since the start of the pandemic.

“We are doing a great job as a community,” said Roberta Smith, public health director for Routt County. “We aren’t out of the woods. As we see going on around us in the state, some counties are increasing in their case counts, and it just takes someone traveling in those areas and not taking proper precautions to come back with COVID-19.”

UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center has 24 beds for acute and ICU care and could provide additional patient care under surge planning, said Lindsey Reznicek, spokesperson for the hospital. Before needing to utilize additional surge areas for patients, they would work with other UCHealth hospitals in the state to transfer patients if required.

Currently, UCHealth is caring for 20 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases in its Northern Colorado region.

Three students attending Routt County schools are among the new cases of COVID-19 in the county as of Oct. 11. Two of the students were under 10 years old, and one was in their teens.

Smith emphasized that the new cases among students should not cause alarm for parents with children at school.

The students were all family members of someone who had already tested positive for the virus and were quarantined prior to testing positive, according to Routt County epidemiologist Nicole Harty.

“While these family member cases were not a surprise, this shows why it is so important to have that first person that tests positive isolate as much as possible from other people in their household and wear a mask at home,” said Brooke Maxwell, Routt County public health nurse. 

Each of the new positive cases this week showed symptoms at least two days before testing positive. Symptoms include sore throat, cough, congestion and loss of taste and smell.

“We are seeing the loss of taste and smell symptom reported in many of our cases,” Maxwell said. “This symptom is now near the top of the list of COVID-19 specific symptoms.”

Routt County moved to Level 1 of the state’s Safer at Home plan last week, which loosened some restrictions as to how many people can gather together. To stay at this level, the county needs to keep new cases under 19 in a two-week period. Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 11, the county had 13 new cases.

The county’s public health department rolled out a new online dashboard of COVID-19 statistics on Tuesday, presenting case and hospitalization information in the context of the state’s dial framework. This allows residents to better understand how changes in new cases and hospitalizations can affect which level of the framework applies to the county.

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