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Outbreak of COVID-19 cases reported at downtown Durango construction site

Five people test positive; 1 person lives in La Plata County and 4 in Mississippi

An outbreak of COVID-19 cases has been reported at a downtown Durango construction site, according to San Juan Basin Public Health.

Claire Ninde, spokeswoman for the health department, said five people have tested positive at the work site as of Tuesday. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases at a location in a 14-day period.

Ninde identified the work site as that of the new 86-room hotel, which is slated to be a Holiday Inn Express, in the 1100 block of Camino del Rio, next to Natural Grocers.

The health department said only one person who tested positive is a La Plata County resident. Based on case interviews, SJBPH believes the other four people are from Mississippi.

“SJBPH referred these individuals to (the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) for follow up as we do with all out-of-state cases associated with a local facility or local testing site,” Ninde said.

SJBPH previously declined to name the specific construction site and where the four people not from La Plata County reside.

The outbreak at the construction site is La Plata County’s first reported outbreak since the novel coronavirus started spreading across the country in March.

Samie Stephens, regional epidemiologist for SJBPH, said it’s important to announce an outbreak for transparency, as well as providing more of a picture of the spread of the disease in the community.

The outbreak, which is considered active, was discovered after the first case was identified May 23 through a positive diagnostic test and contact tracing was then conducted on the infected person, Stephens said.

“Contacts of the initial case were advised to get tested and four more positive cases were identified,” she said.

SJBPH said it took immediate action when notified of the first positive case, contacting work-site representatives, providing infection control guidance and referring employees to free COVID-19 testing sites in the region.

Through case investigation and contact tracing, SJBPH says it identified people in and out of Southwest Colorado who are believed to have had close contact with the people who tested positive at the work site.

Ninde said SJBPH contacted more than 15 people associated with this outbreak, and some individuals are receiving follow-up from out-of-state public health agencies in multiple states.

SJBPH says it will continue to identify additional close contacts to provide appropriate prevention and self-quarantine guidance to anyone who is believed to have been exposed to the virus. The health department also performs regular check-ins with all people who receive quarantine or isolation letters and live in the jurisdiction.

“By following up on every positive COVID-19 diagnostic test in Archuleta and La Plata counties, SJBPH has successfully kept case counts in the two counties among the lowest in Colorado, per capita,” the health department said in a statement.

As of Tuesday, La Plata County had 82 positive cases reported of COVID-19, with no deaths.


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