San Miguel County Department of Public Health and Environment have reported the first case of COVID-19 in the county.
Late Thursday, local officials learned that a 54-year-old resident of the county was the county’s first positive case. According to a news release, the married father returned home from a domestic trip and reported symptoms. He and his family, some of whom have experienced symptoms also, have been placed in isolation for 14 days. Officials said he and his family are recovering well.
The report is not particularly surprising to local health leaders who have long suspected the novel coronavirus had made its way to the county. The county’s rural location, coupled with busy labs on the Front Range meant anticipated delays in getting tests back. As of Thursday night, 41 COVID-19 tests have been sent to labs and received 20 negative results, so far.
With this positive test in hand, officials await the result of 20 tests.
Tuesday, 100 additional tests were conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in the county at a mobile facility set up at the county lot in Lawson Hill. Those patients had received doctor’s orders to be tested. Results are expected tomorrow (Monday).
“We’ve moved past wondering when our first case would be confirmed and on to a model where we want to slow the rate of increase with shelter in place orders,” Grace Franklin, SMCDPHE Director said in a news release.
And, at press time Friday the county announced it had ordered new order halting active residential and commercial construction in the county effective midnight Friday. Exemptions are projects necessary to support essential services.
“It was the next logical step to help slow the spread of the disease. Many in the construction community commute to other counties”, Grace Franklin, Director of Public Health said. “We want to give ourselves the best chance to ensure our plan of sheltering in place is not compromised.”
According to the latest news release, the order clarified that residential and commercial construction are not essential businesses but may continue minimum basic operations such as basic maintenance, inventory, security, and payroll.
And, the county’s recently-announced partnership with a private company that will offer free, voluntary countywide (residents only) blood testing is expected to begin early this week. The blood draws will be analyzed to evaluate who in the county population has been exposed. Officials explained it is a different type of test than the COVID-19 tests used previously, and on the positive patient.
For more information and to sign up for the latest news releases visit sanmiguelcountyco.gov/coronavirus. The coronavirus hotline is 970-728-3844.
THERE IS HELP
There is not one segment of the community that has not been impacted by the novel coronavirus. From lost employment or childcare, or challenges with healthcare, many in the community are struggling.
The Telluride Foundation (TF) has been working to fill gaps with not only individuals, but also area nonprofits that assist in the realms of social services and healthcare.
Monday, TF established the Coronavirus Response Fund and in just a few days time has raised $42,500, according to April Montgomery, vice president programs.
“The generosity of this community and our donors is amazing,” she said.
Among the assistance programs TF administers is the Good Neighbor Fund, which was established 15 years ago. That fund is for families struggling financially with rent, medical and utility bills. Montgomery said that in response to the pandemic, TF is adapting some of its criteria so that it can reach more people in need.
“You used to have to be a four-year resident to qualify, now it’s a one-year resident and we’ve expanded to include Rico,” she said. “So, the good Neighbor Fund covers our entire service area of Rico, San Miguel, Ouray, and west Montrose counties.”
Nonprofits that serve the community may find budgets stretched thin as demand increases. Those organizations may qualify for emergency funds.
“We have always had emergency grants to nonprofits, but are making the nonprofit community aware that these grants are available and can provide additional funds if they are experiencing increased needs and services as a result of coronavirus,” Montgomery explained.
And, she said, “We have been surveying the local food banks to see how we can support them during this time of increased needs and suspect some of them will be applying for emergency grants.”
TF has also been working closely with Tri-County Health Network and Bright Futures, a nonprofit that supports regional childcare providers and the families that use their services.
“Bright Futures is trying to support early childhood centers who have all had to close,” Montgomery said. “Yesterday (Wednesday), we sent an email to all our early childhood grantees, to say they could use their grants for this year for general operating or as they needed the money, rather than restricting the grants to their original purpose of scholarship or a specific request.”
TF, Montgomery said is tracking the anticipated needs of those feeding school children during the schools’ closures and, through the nonprofit’s broadband initiative are working with broadband provider, Clearnetwork, to ensure that any gaps in internet services or hotspots specific to online learning, are filled.
“The Telluride Foundation is set up to respond to crises and this is what we do,” Montgomery said. “For every nonprofit or individual needing help, there are generous people reaching out to volunteer and donate. This is what makes our community so special.”