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Outbreak at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory latest indicator of local COVID surge

31 new COVID-19 cases confirmed as of Nov. 18
San Juan Basin Public Health Public Information Officer Chandler Griffin said he is confident the delta variant of COVID-19 is behind the 31 confirmed cases at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory as well as the vast majority of cases statewide. (Durango Herald file)

Thirty-one staff members at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Nov. 18, said Chandler Griffin, public information officer for San Juan Basin Public Health.

The first case was confirmed Nov. 3. Griffin described the circumstances as a large outbreak and an indicator of the high level of transmission Durango is experiencing in the current COVID-19 surge.

“Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, they’ve been a great partner on this and are cooperating,” Griffin said.

All of the new patients from the chocolate factory have been placed in isolation and those identified as unvaccinated close contacts were reached for quarantine, he said.

Griffin said there is “definitely” a high risk for exposure among the public.

The delta variant of the virus appears to be the culprit behind the cases at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, he said.

“In recent weeks, almost all cases being sent to the state lab for variance sequencing are coming back as the delta variant,” he said.

The delta variant is behind the vast majority, if not all, of cases across Colorado, and SJBPH believes the same is true for local cases.

“I think it demonstrates how important it is for the community to be fully adhering to our public health advisory, especially wearing a mask in all public indoor settings and businesses,” Griffin said. “Whether you’re vaccinated or not. It’s just really important to layer protection.”

He said even people who are vaccinated should wear their masks in indoor public settings and that doing so will help protect their health as well as the health of those around them.

He noted how winter is approaching along with Thanksgiving and Christmas, times when families traditionally gather indoors and crowd businesses for holiday shopping. He said the holiday season makes it all the more important to mask up when out.

“Just keep a mask in your car or in your pocket,” Griffin said. “When you’re going into a business or another public indoor setting, put that on and it will go a long way toward keeping our community healthy during this big COVID surge.”

Calls to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for comment Saturday were unsuccessful.


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