Testing numbers now include probables; 2 more residents at Casey’s Pond test positive
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County is now including probable COVID-19 cases in their count of positives — meaning individuals who have been identified through contact tracing and are symptomatic but have not been tested.
“While we have 29 confirmed positive cases in Routt County through COVID-19 testing, we also have other cases that are probable and will be reflected in a change to our dashboard indicating confirmed and probable cases combined,” said Kari Ladrow, director of Routt County Public Health in a news release. “This will align with the CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) dashboard and data collection. We plan to continue to use our contact tracing as a source of information to get a full picture of community spread in Routt County.”
On Thursday, there were 32 reported positives, which includes three probables, according to officials. The county has submitted 345 tests, and 24 cases are listed as recovered.
According to the state health department, the reported number of probable or epidemiologically-linked cases represents a very small portion of the reported cases — around 7%.
Out of those 345 tests, 118 were administered at Casey’s Pond. On Thursday, Casey’s Pond reported two more of the tests that were pending came back positive.
“These two residents live in the assisted living and memory support neighborhoods. We now have a total of five residents and four team members who have tested positive for COVID-19,” according to a statement on the Casey’s Pond website. “The five residents with positive results remain isolated in the community and are being served and cared for by team members wearing required personal protective equipment. Team members with positive tests or any symptoms of respiratory illness are recovering at home.”
Over the past week, there were several days where only one new test was submitted per day in the county, with about 24 total tests submitted since April 2.
While federal, state and local officials continue to promise more testing, it doesn’t seem to have materialized on the ground, at least here in Routt County. And, the criteria for getting tested has gotten so strict that unless you are hospitalized, working in health care, a first responser or law enforcement, it has been nearly impossible to get a test.
“We have all seen the ebb and flow of testing supplies being available as well as testing criteria changing and we are working day and night in an effort towards gleaning a better understanding of the community disease burden with the resources we have,” Ladrow said. “It is natural as humans to be fearful of the unknown and to want to protect those we love, and it is understandable why frustrations continue to fester regarding testing capability.”
Ladrow said testing is an imperfect science and can give people a false sense of security.
“There are false positives and false negatives as well as concerns of the accuracy of the newer testing methodologies,” Ladrow said. “That is hard for us to grapple with because we came into these professions to make things better, to help people get better, and not to have control over that is hard. What we do have control over and what we do know is that social distancing is effective and evidence based and adhering to the guidelines of the governor is imperative.”
According to county officials, a new category is now allowing for testing of immunocompromised individuals who are sick.
UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs has received a small supply of reagent to run tests locally for the first time, according to county officials. That means a turnaround time of less than an hour for tests.
An additional 100 test kits will be coming from the state health department this week, after Ladrow reached out directly to the state health department’s executive director due to the limited supply of testing kits locally and the appearance that more testing kits were being sent to the Front Range and other large metro areas.
The public health department secured another 100 tests from a private supplier.
“I believe that we will see improvements in testing capacity and more people being able to get tested on a weekly basis,” Routt County Public Health Medical Officer Dr. Brian Harrington said in a news release.
Public health officials are still asking everyone who has respiratory symptoms to presume they are positive and to remember there are likely asymptomatic carriers in the community.
Harrington expressed concern too many people aren’t following best practices.
“Stay at home except for essential activities and to exercise outside. Avoid travel in and out of the county and do not invite guests to stay with you. Wear a face mask when out in public. Observe physical distancing of 6 feet,” Harrington said. “I believe that in Northwest Colorado we can contain the spread of COVID 19 and flatten the curve within the next couple months, but it requires all of us acting now to follow best practices in order to control this viral pandemic.”
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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Colorado updated its guidance for masks in schools Friday, suggesting school districts in the state should consider masks for the unvaccinated and, in areas of higher transmission like Routt County, masks for everyone.