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Public health officials urge those with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate

Signs include fever, cough and shortness of breath
San Juan Basin Public Health urges people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 – coughing, fever, shortness of breath – to self-quarantine or self-isolate.

With a shortage of COVID-19 tests available in Southwest Colorado, San Juan Basin Public Health is urging people presenting with virus symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath to self-quarantine or self-isolate.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there had been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in La Plata or Archuleta counties, according to SJBPH. But with a lack of testing capacity, the health department said it was acting under the assumption COVID-19 was circulating in the community. Because of national shortages, only 26 tests in La Plata and Archuleta counties had been completed as of Tuesday.

The health department is now asking people with symptoms or possible exposure to the virus to isolate or quarantine themselves to help prevent the exposure to others in the community.

“We are asking all community members’ help in reducing the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social-distancing strategies and following our self-quarantine and isolation guidance if they believe they have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus,” said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon in a news release. “All of us play a role in fighting this outbreak.”

The difference between isolation and quarantine

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person’s home is the preferred setting for isolation or quarantine.

There are a few key differences between isolation and quarantine measures.

Self-isolation separates sick people with symptoms from people who are not sick, while self-quarantine separates people who think they might have been exposed to see if they become sick. Exposure can include direct contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or a person with the symptoms of COVID-19, according to SJBPH.

If a person has tested positive for the virus or has a fever, cough and shortness of breath, he or she should be in isolation until they have not had a fever for 72 hours, cough or shortness of breath have improved, and at least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Quarantine is for people who are not sick but may have been in close contact with someone who is sick, including family members and co-workers. People in quarantine should stay home for 14 days to see if they get sick and do not further spread the disease.

San Juan Basin Public Health announced Thursday a temporary drive-thru testing facility at the La Plata County Fairgrounds will be in operation Friday and Saturday for people meeting specific testing criteria.

SJBPH urges people to call a medical provider or clinic for additional instructions before showing up to the hospital, urgent care center or doctor’s office.

lweber@durangoherald.com

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