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15 students, 2 instructors test positive for COVID-19 at Durango Gymnastics building

School-aged children account for more than 20% of cases in March

A total of 15 gymnasts and two instructors across six classes at the Durango Gymnastics building have tested positive for COVID-19, according to San Juan Basin Public Health.

“I’m disappointed to learn of this latest outbreak and know that the community will give their all to reduce transmission going forward,” SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon said in a statement.

SJBPH, La Plata County’s local health department, confirmed the outbreak in an announcement late Tuesday.

The city of Durango, which owns the Durango Gymnastics building, closed the building, which was deep cleaned.

“The investigation is ongoing and SJBPH will continue to evaluate information regarding this and all cases as received,” the health department wrote in a statement.

Cathy Metz, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the outbreak at Durango Gymnastics involved school-age participants in the gymnastics program. The Durango Gymnastics facility closed March 7 and will remain closed until Monday.

“During the closure period, the city has completed deep cleaning and disinfection of the facility,” she said.

Metz said increased preventive measures will be in effect once the facility reopens to the public, including increased social distancing to 12 feet instead of 6 feet; mask wearing when participants are not performing gymnastics skills; and disinfecting equipment between each group of users.

Metz said additional staff members will be in the facility to keep people outside before the start of class and encourage participants to leave immediately after each class. Exhaust vents will be operated to purge the air between each class, and weather permitting, the doors in the facility will remain open during operations.

The city will also use UV-C air purifiers in congested areas of the facility, she said.

SJBPH said school-aged children have accounted for more than 20% of all COVID-19 cases in Archuleta and La Plata counties during the month of March.

“We know the pandemic has been especially hard on children, teens and their parents, and we are grateful for the sacrifices that have been made to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Jollon said.

SJBPH said schools have done an impressive job to limit spread of the virus within the classroom setting, and very few cases or outbreaks have been tied to classroom transmission.

However, SJBPH said activities outside school and travel for spring break have the potential to put in-person learning at risk. And, all this at a time when cases are rising and variants are being identified in the community.

“Especially during spring break, it’s important we commit to following public health precautions to limit the spread of the virus in the community and when school returns,” Jollon said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment releases an update of COVID-19 outbreaks every Wednesday. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases in a 14-day time period.

Other than the Durango Gymnastics building, no other new outbreaks were reported this week.

Previously reported, but still active outbreaks include: Bayfield High School, Community Connections Host Home, Durango High School, Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team, Lewis True Value Mercantile, Lil’tykes Playschool, Miller Middle School, Miller Shared School, Needham Elementary School, Park Elementary School and Walmart.

Though nonessential travel is discouraged, SJBPH said anyone traveling for spring break should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, such as getting a COVID-19 test no more than three days before travel and three to five days after travel.

“The CDC emphasizes that travel increases your chance of contracting and spreading COVID-19, and if possible, to avoid travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from the virus,” SJBPH said.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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