COVID-19: Seven confirmed cases in county Commissioner urges part-time residents to come prepared

By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer
Archuleta County now has seven confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH), and Archuleta County Commissioner Ron Maez is urging part-time residents returning to the area to come prepared to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
The additional new case was announced Tuesday.
Just shy of 200 tests had been done in Archuleta County as of Wednesday morning.
SJBPH reported having done 40 tests in Archuleta County, though the agency previously announced doing 43 tests.
Dr. Dave Shaeffer of Pagosa Medical Group (PMG) reported 96 tests, with the results of about 30 of those pending.
Dr. Rhonda Webb reported 59 tests at Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC), with eight tests pending.
Webb, however, suggested some of its tests may have been false negatives.
“We continue to be plagued with the problem with testing,” she said.
She explained the tests sent to the state lab are supposed to have better than 95 percent accuracy, but PSMC has seen patients it felt had all the symptoms of COVID-19, yet their tests have come back negative.
“They tout that it’s quite accurate, but yet we feel in our area that there are people who have it that are testing negative, but have all of the symptoms, including the loss of taste, the loss of smell, the cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches,” she said.
PSMC continues to watch what’s happening in other areas.
“There’s just so many unknowns, it’s still a challenge for us to know what to do,” Webb said.
The region has also seen an increase in testing capacity over the last week, with several health care facilities announcing a partnership with Cedar Diagnostics, which PMG has been using for weeks.
Shaeffer reported Wednesday the current turnaround time with Cedar is six to seven days due to a bottleneck with the New Jersey lab Cedar uses.
PSMC continues to work with the state lab, Webb noted, though it is looking at other opportunities related to testing with private labs.
She noted in a follow-up email PSMC is currently seeing about a 24-hour turnaround on test results.
Webb reported to The SUN that PSMC has nine employees who are quarantined for 14 days at their homes due to potential exposure to a COVID-positive patient, though none were showing symptoms as of Wednesday morning.

Statement addressing second home owners
Maez released a video statement Tuesday addressing second home owners returning to the area.
“If you are coming, we are recommending that you bring at least two weeks worth of groceries with you, self-quarantine for at least two weeks before you get out and about in Archuleta County. We have citizens here that live year-round and we have to have respect for them,” Maez said.
Maez also noted the chance of exposure while traveling.
“Also, if there’s resources where you live and you’re healthy, I would advise you to stay where you’re at because here in Archuleta County, with our mountain hospital, it’s very small. We don’t have all the resources to handle everyone if an outbreak arises,” he said.
He then urges people to stay healthy, safe, maintain a safe distance and wear a face covering.

Staying safe
SJBPH has urged citizens to “keep yourself, your family, and your friends and neighbors safe” by:
• Staying at home.
• Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently.
• Staying 6 feet away from others when out in public.
• Covering your nose and mouth when out in public.
For more information on making your own cloth mask, visit https://www.coloradomaskproject.com/.

COVID-19 symptoms and medical contacts
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those who experience these symptoms should self-quarantine and call their health care provider for a treatment plan.
Following are the phone numbers for local medical providers:
• PSMC: 731-3700.
• PMG: 372-0456.
• Archuleta Integrated Healthcare: 264-2104.
• Those without a doctor can call SJBPH at 247-5702, option 1.

Where can I learn more?
Several local, state and national health organizations are offering information on COVID-19:
• See related stories in this issue of The SUN.
• Visit www.PagosaSUN.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pagosa.newspaper for updates on community closures, business information and more.
• PSMC: http://pagosaspringsmedicalcenter.org.
• SJBPH: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.
• CDPHE: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.coronavirus.gov.
• World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19.

This story was posted on April 16, 2020.