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San Juan Basin Public Health reports six new COVID-19 cases from people visiting Southwest Colorado

‘It is critical that we don’t become complacent’

San Juan Basin Public Health reported six positive COVID-19 cases among people who were tested locally, but who do not live in La Plata or Archuleta counties.

SJBPH reported 96 total cases in the two counties, 88 of which are from La Plata County, as of Friday. The nonresident cases are not among those totals. The cases, which occurred over the last three weeks, were people from New Mexico, Arizona and other counties in Colorado, a news release said.

“As our local economy begins to enter its ‘new normal,’ it is critical that we don’t become complacent in protecting ourselves from the spread of COVID-19,” said Liane Jollon, executive director of SJBPH.

Arizona has one of the most severe COVID-19 outbreaks in the western United States, reporting 58,179 positive cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Tuesday. New Mexico has fewer cases than Colorado, 10,694 and 30,705, respectively.

SJBPH has coordinated with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and other public health agencies on the positive COVID-19 cases of nonresidents to ensure that appropriate isolation and quarantine guidelines are being followed.

“The virus is very much still circulating in our residents, traveling workforce and tourist population,” Jollon said. “As we’ve seen in neighboring states, it doesn’t take much for case counts to rise rapidly and jeopardize local health care systems if we don’t take social distancing, face covering, hand washing and good workplace cleaning practices seriously.”

Archuleta and La Plata counties are in the bottom 20% of Colorado counties in cases per capita, despite high growth rates in neighboring counties, the release said.

Both counties have widespread testing availability, and SJBPH has the capacity to follow up on every lab-confirmed positive test with contact tracing, isolation and quarantine resources, and case monitoring.

Local hospitals have completed a medical surge plan and are able to care for patients without resorting to crisis standards of care, the release said.

SJBPH said the low transmission rates in the two counties are in part because community members, local businesses and organizations have taken steps to slow the spread of the virus by following public health orders and guidance.

Because both Archuleta and La Plata counties are tourist destinations and as these communities see an influx of visitors from other locations, the agency urged locals to adhere to social distancing, hand washing, symptom monitoring and other public health guidelines.

“The best way to sustainably reopen our economy is to practice good public health habits at all times,” Jollon said.


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