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La Plata County has seven active COVID-19 outbreaks at workplaces, restaurants

Health department urges employers to let staff work remotely

Amid a surge of COVID-19 cases, La Plata County is now reporting a total of seven active outbreaks throughout workplaces, restaurants, bars and schools.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updates its list of active outbreaks every Wednesday. An outbreak, according to state guidelines, is two or more cases in a 14-day period.

Active outbreaks include:

The Durango-La Plata Emergency Communications Center, where an outbreak was confirmed Nov. 9 after three staff members tested positive. The city of Durango has said operations will not be affected.The Durango Fire Protection District, where an outbreak was confirmed Oct. 28 after two staff members tested positive. Chief Hal Doughty said previously that although staffing is an issue, service has not been affected.The Durango VFW 4031 at 1550 Main Ave., where an outbreak was confirmed Nov. 10 after five staff members tested positive. The VFW posted to social media Nov. 10 it is temporarily closed.Fort Lewis College football, where an outbreak was confirmed Nov. 6 after four people tested positive. CDPHE said one attendee also tested positive. The college said last week all football activities have been canceled until further notice.Needham Elementary School, where an outbreak was confirmed Nov. 7 after two people tested positive. Durango School District 9-R has since gone to online learning only.San Juan Water Works at 47 Flight Line Road, where an outbreak was confirmed Oct. 29 after two people tested positive at the water management company.Serious Texas BBQ at 650 South Camino del Rio, where an outbreak was confirmed Nov. 9 after three people tested positive. La Plata County is experiencing the largest spike in positive cases since the pandemic broke out in March.

Created with Highcharts 8.2.2Number of presumptive positivecasesLa Plata County COVID casesThe first case was reported March 23, 2020.La Plata County23-Mar-203-Jun-2014-Aug-2025-Oct-201-Apr-2010-Apr-2019-Apr-2028-Apr-207-May-2016-May-2025-May-2012-Jun-2021-Jun-2030-Jun-209-Jul-2018-Jul-2027-Jul-205-Aug-2023-Aug-201-Sep-2010-Sep-2019-Sep-2028-Sep-207-Oct-2016-Oct-203-Nov-20036912151821242730333639San Juan Basin Public Health

The increase in cases has led San Juan Basin Public Health, the local heath department, to enact stricter health guidelines beginning Friday, which call for employers to let staff members work from home to slow the spread of the virus.

“If it hasn’t been at your business before, it probably will be,” said Brian Devine with SJBPH in a previous interview. “We need ... employees to work from home as much as possible.”

Another part of what’s known as “Level Orange” restricts the legal operating capacity for most nonessential businesses, restaurants, workplaces and events from 50% to 25%.

Devine said local health departments are meeting with CDPHE to determine new outbreak reporting protocols.

Given the significant rise in cases across the state, and limited resources for local agencies, it’s likely health departments will focus on high-priority outbreaks where the public is most at risk.

“There will be some changes,” he said. “But we don’t know yet.”

Monitoring every restaurant employee for a two-week period, for instance, may not be the best use of time and resources, Devine said. Instead, the focus could be on places like long-term care and correctional facilities.

La Plata County had reported five outbreaks at workplaces before the recent surge. Now, the number is up to 12. A total of 700 La Plata County residents have tested positive for the virus as of Thursday.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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