Montezuma County has four new COVID-19 outbreaks, bringing its total to 10, and Dolores County has reported its first outbreak, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.
As of Nov. 30 five people have died because of COVID-19. Two others died with COVID-19, but the disease was not listed as the cause of death.
CDPHE defines an “outbreak” of COVID-19 as two or more people who contract the virus in a single location within 14 days.
CDPHE listed the outbreaks on Wednesday. New locations and date illnesses were determined to be an outbreak are:
Nov. 19, Dunton Hot Springs in Dolores County: Three staff have tested positive.Nov. 19, Keesee Motors in Cortez: Three staff have tested positive.Nov. 16, Arriola Bible Church in Montezuma County: Three attendees have tested positive, and one attendee is probably positive, but has not been lab confirmed. Nov. 15, Jiffy Lube in Cortez: Two staff have tested positive and one is probably positive, but has not been lab confirmed.Nov. 12, LiveWell marijuana shop in Cortez: Three staff have tested positive.An outbreak is considered resolved after 28 days have passed since the onset of symptoms of the last case, according to CDPHE.
Montezuma County officials seek assurance that after an outbreak at a business is resolved, it will be removed from the state outbreak map.
“There are concerns for businesses that they will continually be negatively labeled,” said County Administrator Shak Powers.
County commissioners said they thought the “outbreak” label for two positive cases in 14 days was overkill.
“It feels misleading. The word ‘outbreak’ and ‘two’ don’t normally go together,” said Commissioner Larry Don Suckla. He said he has heard from a business outside the county that has felt a negative impact because of the label.
Health officials said the minimum figure of two for an outbreak is based on epidemiology analysis on the potential number that could be infected for each positive case.
Cases increasing in countyAs of Nov. 30, Montezuma County had 709 confirmed positives since the outbreak began in March. As of Nov. 27 total active cases are 410, up from 210 on Nov. 13, a 95% increase.
Total recovered from the virus are 273, as of Nov. 27. Total negative tests are 9,242.
As of Nov. 30 there have been five deaths from COVID-19. Also, two people have died with COVID-19, but the disease was not the cause of death.
Contact tracing is conducted by the health department on positive cases to identify and inform people if they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive. The county public health department has 19 trained contact tracers, officials said, and they were hired locally.
Free testing availableBeginning Dec. 2, Montezuma County Public Health Department will offer free, community wide drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the Southwest Memorial Hospital EMS building on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will not take place on Dec. 23 or Dec. 30, but will resume on Jan. 6.
The free testing is a partnership between Southwest Health System and Montezuma County Public Health. Symptoms are not required to get tested.
Also, Southwest Health System continues to offer drive-thru testing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on the north side of campus.
Community-wide participation in COVID-19 precautions will make a difference, health officials said. A virus needs a host to survive, and the COVID-19 virus dies when it can’t move from person to person.
“If everyone in our county was strict about mask-wearing, distancing, and avoiding social contact outside of their household, most cases of COVID would disappear within four weeks,” said Dr. Kent Aikin, SHS Medical Director and county public health physician.