County records first positive COVID-19 test

FREE COVID-19 COVERAGE:

Montrose County got back its first positive test for coronavirus-19 (COVID-19), officials announced Friday evening.

The patient is a 39-year-old male who is in self-isolation at home as he recuperates. Montrose County Public Health is working to determine with whom he was in contact over the past two weeks and will be reaching out to those people. County officials were not immediately aware of whether the patient had traveled recently.

"This individual is currently in self-isolation," Montrose County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and Communicable Disease Specialist Lisa Gallegos said, in an announcement.

"We hope this individual recovers quickly and that there limited spread in Montrose County. Systems are in place to address the needs of the affected individual."

Word of the positive result was received after the county hosted a multi-agency briefing on the status of the virus here. The county and other agencies were already conducting business as though COVID-19 was present locally.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment publishes virus statistics each day, based on information available before 4 p.m. The Montrose County positive test result was not known before that time, and therefore is not reflected in that data.

Down the road, San Miguel County also announced its first positive COVID-19 test on Friday. San Miguel County is under a “shelter in place” public health order that directs residents to stay home as much as possible, and restricts businesses to essential operations.

Restrictions in Montrose County include those on visitors to Montrose Memorial Hospital, where no one with respiratory symptoms is allowed to visit; children are not permitted in patient care areas, and patients are limited to one visitor at a time, subject to length of visit being limited.

“Montrose County Public Health and community partners have been preparing for this circumstance, and we want to reassure the community that the county is in constant communication with both the CDPHE and CDC regarding this incident and future preparedness measures," said Montrose County Commissioner Keith Caddy, in the Friday announcement.

"I am asking that Montrose County residents help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following guidance from the CDC to include social distancing, hand-washing, and self-isolation when experiencing mild symptoms.”

Testing in Montrose County is being done for individuals with medical providers’ orders at River Valley Family Health Center, although on Monday, the Colorado National Guard and CDPHE will be performing 100 tests at the Montrose County Event Center.

These will be administered to preselected individuals, identified by their doctors as having met criteria as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If this list, still in development, is not 100 people long, the county will contact providers again to see if they recommend others, or could open to surrounding counties, Gallegos said.

At River Valley, the testing process consists of a nurse collecting swabs from those with testing orders. The specimens are taken to the Montrose Memorial Hospital lab and then shipped to the state.

It has been taking up to seven days for results because of backlog, although the Montrose County man who has COVID-19 was tested Monday.

Gallegos said the CDPHE is identifying more urgent cases to move to the front of the testing line and sending those that appear less urgent to another lab for assistance.

She reiterated that people must be deemed by their medical provider to have met CDC criteria before they will be eligible for a test.

Because of limited testing supplies nationwide, the CDC requires those with symptoms to also have an underlying medical condition: diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease or heart disease, and to have already been tested for flu or other respiratory diseases. Elderly people are considered more at risk than younger people.

If a person is a health care provider or first responder and is symptomatic, he or she will be tested, because such professionals are needed on the front lines of fighting the disease.

With or without a COVID-19 test, the recommended care is the same for cases not requiring hospitalization, Gallegos said.

“If you tested and it comes back positive, your provider is not going to change what he told you to do anyway. It is still the self-quarantine,” she said.

General recommendations:

● Manage your symptoms at home the same way you manage other cold symptoms. To the extent possible, people with flu-like symptoms should remain at home.

● If you need medical care, contact your primary care provider via phone. Let them know that you are concerned you might have COVID-19.

● Only contact 911 for emergencies requiring immediate life-saving care and let them know if you are concerned you might have COVID-19.

● Restrict visits to the hospital emergency room or urgent care — only individuals needing immediate care should visit these facilities. If you must visit an ER or urgent care facility, call ahead and let them know that you are concerned you might have COVID-19.

Load comments