Story updated at 2:30 p.m.:
Ouray Brewery owner Erin Eddy announced this afternoon he tested positive for COVID-19.
Eddy is the first Ouray County resident to test positive for the virus. His positive test was announced by Ouray County Public Health officials just before 9 a.m. today. About three hours later, health officials announced a second county resident, a man in his 80s, also tested positive.
In a post on the brewery's Facebook page, Eddy said he began to feel ill several weeks ago and has been self-quarantined in his home. He said he visited the brewery fewer than five teams while maintaining proper distance from others. Over the past 14 days, he said, he had no contact with any food items or growlers that were sold on a carryout basis from Ouray Brewery.
"Out of caution and respect for our community and my co-workers, I have made the decision to close the Ouray Brewery until at least April 17, 2020. Thank you for your understanding and support," Eddy wrote.
A man in his 50s and a man in his 80s are the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ouray County. According to information provided by the Ouray County Public Health Department, the first case – a 50-year-old man – is isolated in his home at this time and health officials are in the process of collecting information about his whereabouts and notifying those who may have come into contact with him prior to the positive test result. The Plaindealer is still obtaining information about the second confirmed case.
The man had "classic symptoms" of fever, shortness of breath and cough, according to Tanner Kingery, Ouray County's public health director. His test was performed at Mountain Medical Center and was sent to the state lab, as one of the initial 10 tests the clinic obtained, Kingery said. According to Mountain Medical staff, the test was performed on Tuesday and results were available this morning.
Those swab tests were taking as long as two weeks to process by the state lab, and the clinic was receiving results in four or five days, according to Mountain Medical staff. The tests being used by the clinic now are taking as little as 48 hours to receive results.
Local health officials are awaiting results on four other tests performed earlier this week at Mountain Medical Center, and the clinic has performed a total of nine tests and only had one positive so far – the man in his 50s. Kingery's plan is to follow up with the man who tested positive, interview him about who he's come into contact with recently and the places he's visited, and then contact anyone else who may be at risk for contagion and instruct them to quarantine for two weeks. Most patients are reporting they experience symptoms within five days of their suspected source of contagion. Kingery said he didn't anticipate his list of contacts would be long, due to the precautions in place, the closure of public spaces and with most people maintaining their distance and adhering to the stay-at-home order locally.
Without more information from testing, officials have advised the best course of action is to stay away from others, keep their distance and shelter at home while continuing to wash their hands and sanitize surfaces if they come into contact with potential sources of contagion. The health department has advised the sickness seems to primarily spread through droplets in the air, when infected people cough or sneeze. They may not have symptoms for days but could still be contagious.
"Everyone should consider themselves at risk from exposure to COVID-19 and should adhere to the governor’s order to stay-at-home as much as possible," said Kingery. He also advised people to monitor themselves for fever and remain alert for cough, shortness of breath or sore throat. "The virus is here, we know it now, we've kind of suspected it for a while."
"Now that we have the data that it's here, it's almost like it's real now to citizens," he said.
At this time, testing is not available for people who are not experiencing symptoms. Montrose Memorial Hospital has acquired a more rapid testing option where results are available in 48 to 72 hours, versus the tests from the state lab which were taking up to two weeks for results. All tests must be ordered by a physician for those who are experiencing symptoms. Appointments are required. Mountain Medical has also obtained tests from Montrose Memorial Hospital and those tests are available for those who are screened for symptoms and make an appointment, even if they are not patients of Mountain Medical.
At this time, public health officials are trying to conserve masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment for an increase in cases later and to maintain supplies for healthcare workers to limit their exposure. Testing priority is given to hospitalized patients with severe acute lower respiratory illness, such as pneumonia.
Prior to this first confirmed case, Ouray County health officials said they didn't count on an absence of positive tests as an indicator that the virus wasn't here. The second confirmed case of coronavirus in Montrose County was a man in his 30s who said he had been working in the region, including Ouray County.
Other neighboring counties are reporting an increase in cases. Montrose County reported its first confirmed case on March 20. The county reported a spike in cases yesterday – when the numbers jumped from 15 to 27 confirmed cases. Mesa County currently has 18 confirmed cases.
Local medical officials have said they expect a "surge" in COVID-19 cases and increased medical demands from those with compromised immune systems, other health issues and respiratory problems. Doctors told county officials earlier this week they're seeing patients who are testing positive for COVID-19, or are presumed positive for the illness, who have other health issues such as encephalitis. Testing requirements, which originally had a seven-tiered criteria for patients to be considered, have been relaxed and health officials are allowing tests for patients with other symptoms now. Fever remains an indicator for the illness.
This is a breaking story and will be updated with more information.