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What you need to know about Coronavirus disease 2019

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Gilpin County Public Health

By Bonnie Albrecht

As COVID-19 updates continue, it is normal to feel anxious about a new disease. Currently, the risk to most Coloradans is low, and we are confident the healthcare system here is prepared to respond quickly to identify and evaluate any suspected cases to minimize potential spread. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to stay informed from reliable sources and know the facts.

More than half of all states have reported COVID-19 cases. The positive tests across the US also include 21 people aboard a cruise ship that is being held of California’s coast with more than 3,000 aboard. Community-spread is being detected in a growing number of countries, including parts of the US. As of Friday night, March 7, officials in 28 states confirmed positive tests for the coronavirus illness COVID-19. In total, more than 330 cases have been reported.

Seventeen people in the U.S. have died, including two in Florida on Friday who marked the first fatalities outside the West Coast. Most of the deaths have been in Washington state, and many are linked to a long-term care facility in King County, health officials say.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 15 presumptive cases of Covid-19 across the state of Colorado. A “presumptive” case means that the sick person was tested, and found positive, for Covid-19 on the state level. The state then has to turn that case over to the Center for Disease Control so they can test it. “To be a ‘confirmed’ case, it needs to be validated by the CDC, but we can act on a presumptive case,” said Jeff Kuhr, Executive Director for Mesa County Public Health. It takes two to four days for the CDC to get those results. So far, there hasn’t been any high risk cases within the nine counties affected.

However, we are preparing for the possibility that COVID-19 may eventually spread even more in our state and into our county.

Individual risk depends on exposure. People in communities where ongoing spread of COVID-19 has been reported are at an elevated—but still relatively low—risk of exposure. Regardless, current Public Health efforts are focused on containing the spread of this virus and mitigating its impact.

Exposure to COVID-19 has been defined as being within 6 feet of someone with a confirmed infection for a prolonged period of time, transferred through respiratory droplets produced by a cough or sneeze (like the flu); however even that does not guarantee someone will become sick.

Symptoms of respiratory viruses, including the novel coronavirus, include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Any of these illnesses can be severe and require hospitalization, but most individuals recover by resting, drinking plenty of liquids, and taking pain and fever-reducing medications.

We encourage residents to continue being vigilant in every day actions to prevent infection:

–Wash hands frequently with soap and water.

–Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands

–Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth.

–Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, like doorknobs and cell phones.

–Avoid being around anyone with cold- or flu-like symptoms.

–If you are sick, stay home and away from public places.

It is not too late to get the flu vaccine. Call Jefferson County Public Health in Lakewood for an appointment: 303-239-7078

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves. These masks are meant to keep people who are sick from spreading it to others.

CDC has prepared some tips for preventing community spread online at their website.

Gilpin County Public Health and our partners at Jefferson County Public Health Department are working closely with the CDC and other organizations to actively monitor the situation.

If you have any questions, call the CO Health Emergency Line for the Public (COHELP) at 877.462.2911 or 303.389.1687, or email COHELP@RMPDC.org for answers in English, Spanish, Mandarin and more.

Resources for COVID-19:

State public health web page:www.colorado.gov/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus

CDC web page:  www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

JCPH web page: www.jeffco.us/public-healths

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