virus

Residents line up outside of the Telluride Middle/High School for their COVID-19 tests this week. Officials announced six additional positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of San Miguel County)

San Miguel County Department of Public Health and Environment announced five new positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday morning, bringing the total number of positive cases in the county to seven.

At least three of the six new cases were from the group of 100 tested by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the National Guard March 17 in Lawson Hill, according to a news release. County officials called the three individuals Tuesday night after learning that the CDPHE released the positive cases on its state website without notifying the county or the individuals of their results, county public information officer Susan Lilly explained.

“We needed to notify (the people who tested positive) and found out that CDPHE didn’t notify them,” she added. 

The three people who tested positive after CDPHE swab testing are a 73-year-old man who did not travel recently, a 21-year-old female who traveled abroad and a 22-year-old male who recently traveled. All three self isolated and are feeling well as they recover, according to Lilly.

Officials have expressed frustration with the CDPHE process. The county hasn’t received the results of all 100 tests, though approximately 20 to 30 people have been notified by the CDPHE that they tested negative, Lilly explained. County officials expected results within a week of testing.

“We are very frustrated with their process, they’re delay and notification is not what we expected,” she added.

Grace Franklin, county public health director, echoed that sentiment and said she was not pleased with the notification process, according to the news release. County health officials are working to get clarification from CDPHE about the remaining CDPHE swab tests.

The fourth new county case is a 28-year-old woman who returned from a high-risk geographical area earlier this month and experienced symptoms similar to that commonly associated with the virus. She immediately self isolated from other members in her household. A health care provider with the Telluride Medical Regional Medical Center did a swab test with safety protocols in place. Public health officials were notified of the positive test result, which indicates active disease at the time of the testing, Tuesday night. The patient, who is recovering well, was notified public health and will continue to self isolate for a total of 14 days since her symptoms began.

Officials announced a fifth new case, a 67-year-old female who had a travel history and received a county administered swab test, Wednesday morning. She too had self isolated and is recovering well.

"County officials announced the seventh positive case, a 50-year-old female, Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately known before press time Wednesday afternoon if the woman had been tested by the county or state."

The first positive case of COVID-19 in the county was reported March 19, as a 54-year-old man who had travelled domestically received results of a county administered swab test. Officials said the man self isolated and is recovering well.

While the state is under a shelter-in-place order, officials have continually stressed the importance of social distancing and self isolation, if necessary.

Dr. Sharon Grundy, county public health director, said five people who recently tested positive followed proper protocol in self isolating and notifying immediate family and contacts of their condition.

“To the extent we have new positive cases, we are pleased that each of these individuals did an excellent job self-isolating and all are recovered or recovering well,” she said.

“We need to remind people that it is critical that they self-isolate if they are sick, even without a positive test,” Franklin said. “We simply can’t take the risk that they spread this disease.”

The county is continuing to offer free COVID-19 antibody blood tests, thanks to c19, a subsidiary of United Biomedical Inc., which Telluride couple Mei Mei Hu and Lou Reese owns, along with  Hu’s mother Dr. Chang Yi Wang.

Residents in the West End of the county will begin being tested Thursday, starting with residents 60 years of age and older from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the high school all-purpose room. The schedule is broken down in groups. Group A, which will be tested from 9:30-11:30 a.m., includes all residents living between mile-marker 93 on Highway 145 and County Road 44ZS/ZN. Group B consists of residents living between county roads 44ZS/ZN and 42ZS/ZN, and will be tested between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Group C, residents living between County Road 42ZS/ZN and the Basin Store, will be tested between 3-5 p.m.

To sign up for testing, register to receive CodeRED alerts and pre-register at c19SMC.com, where information about the test is available and consent forms can be filled out. Residents will be notified within 24 hours of their appointment. The same message will be broadcasted on KOTO. Volunteers will be on hand at the testing site to help anybody who doesn’t have internet access sign up on their cellphones. 

For the most up-to-date information, visit sanmiguelcountyco.gov/coronavirus.