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Outbreak at Durango car dealership grows; 12 cases, 3 deaths

Community urged to wear masks, receive vaccination for COVID-19

The number of positive COVID-19 cases associated with an outbreak at Nissan of Durango has increased to 12, and the number of fatalities has grown to three, according to a news release issued Tuesday by San Juan Basin Public Health.

A fourth person died after contracting COVID-19, but that death did not meet the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s case definition to be added to the outbreak fatality list, according to the health department.

Rob Celedonia, co-owner of the dealership, said he is confused about why the health department issued an update about the COVID outbreak, considering it happened a while ago and his employees are healthy. He said maybe a subcontractor from the prior outbreak has COVID, but there are no active cases at his store in Durango.

“I have no idea who they’re talking about,” he said. “There is no one here who is sick.”

SJBPH said new cases linked to an outbreak, whether among contractors or staff, even after the outbreak closes, can extend the length of the outbreak.

“SJBPH would not expect anyone to be ill at the workplace, as mitigation measures are in place in cooperation with Nissan of Durango,” the health department wrote in an email to The Durango Herald.

The first case associated with the Nissan outbreak was identified June 19. The health department was reporting nine cases and one death associated with the outbreak as of July 7.

As of Tuesday, five cases of the delta variant had been confirmed in association with the outbreak based on full-genome sequencing conducted by the CDPHE. Two of the 12 COVID-19 cases associated with the outbreak have been confirmed as “breakthrough” cases involving fully vaccinated people, the release said.

SJBPH and Nissan of Durango have implemented mitigation response plans for the business, including testing and contact tracing. All positive cases associated with Nissan of Durango have been put on isolation and those identified as unvaccinated close contacts were put on quarantine.

Liane Jollon, executive director of SJBPH, urged residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible and follow local public health advisories by wearing masks in public indoor settings like the grocery store and other businesses.

The car dealership in west Durango has been cooperative in response to the outbreak, she said.

“The recent COVID-19 fatalities are a tragic loss for our community and a reminder that the pandemic is not over,” Jollon said. “… We are heartbroken to report the recent COVID-19 related deaths.”

COVID-19 continues to circulate at “high” rates in La Plata and Archuleta counties as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the health department. Four active outbreaks were listed Tuesday across two counties. An outbreak within a business is defined by CDPHE as five or more cases associated with a single facility in a 14-day period.

The outbreak at Nissan of Durango came after another large outbreak at the Walmart in Pagosa Springs, where 16 cases were reported as of Tuesday.

shane@durangoherald.com

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