COVID-19 outbreak identified in Ouray County

  • COVID-19, courtesy Centers for Disease Control
    COVID-19, courtesy Centers for Disease Control

Ouray County has announced an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, connected to a social gathering.

At this time, five new cases related to the outbreak have been confirmed through testing, including a positive case announced last week involving a woman in her 20s. There are two more probable cases as well, according to county officials. Another "suspected" case is also involved with the same outbreak. These individuals have the symptoms of the virus and were exposed to the others but have not received confirmed test results at this time. All the cases are Ouray County residents.

The gathering happened around Aug. 14, according to Public Health Director Tanner Kingery. None of the positive cases were confirmed with testing at the health department – the initial case from the woman in her 20s last week was performed in San Miguel County. It's not clear how many people were at this gathering or exactly what it was at this time, but Kingery said contact tracers are collecting information from everyone who tested positive and are beginning to make contact with others who may need testing.

"It's massive," he said of the number of people who need to be contacted. At this time, he estimated there are at least 200 people who will need to be contacted in relation to this outbreak. This number comes from the estimated number of people who came into contact with the infected individuals in the days following the gathering.

Ouray County public health officials are relying on help from contact tracers working for the state to assist them with figuring out who else may have been exposed by having contact with the infected individuals, and who should be notified they need testing at this time.

Kingery urged anyone who receives a call from a contact tracer from out of the area to be responsive. "Please work with these people, because we are very short handed and you won't be getting a phone call from a local number, probably," he said. 

The county's variances to allow increased capacity at the pools and restaurants are based on limiting the number of new virus cases in a two-week period. The limit before a mitigation plan to limit contagion is 7 new cases in a period of two weeks. County officials are working to determine what a mitigation plan would look like and how to submit it to the state, in order to keep the variances in place allowing increased pool and restaurant capacities.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there have been 561 outbreaks reported so far in the state. The department reports there have been 42 counties with outbreaks and 70 percent of the outbreaks have been resolved. Earlier this spring, the majority of the outbreaks were associated with residential healthcare facilities, but recently the outbreaks have been more commonly associated with bars or restaurants, social settings or workplaces. An outbreak is defined as two or more individuals who test positive for the active virus using a swab test, within a 14 day period within a facility, business or non-household group.

This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.