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Documented community spread underscores importance of social distancing
Contact: Julie Sutor, Director of Communications, 970-668-2990
SUMMIT COUNTY – At 11 a.m., Saturday, March 21, Summit County Public Health reported that a eighth person in Summit County has tested positive for COVID-19, indicating that the spread of the novel coronavirus is continuing within the community.
“We believe this greatly under-represents what is happening in the community," said Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland. "We are certain that more people have contracted the virus and have not been tested. Now that we’ve seen community spread – that is, the virus has moved from person to person within Summit County and is not solely being introduced by infected outsiders bringing it to the population – we have moved our approach from containment to mitigation."
She encouraged Summit County residents to monitor their own health for symptoms of COVID-19 -- fever, cough and shortness of breath -- and stay home from work and other activities when sick. "Staying home saves lives," Wineland said.
That means county and town officials are imploring social distancing among people – discouraging all face-to-face interactions and public gatherings, and asking that residents work from home when possible, minimize discretionary visits to public accommodations such as grocery stores and staying home when sick. And everyone in Summit County should be monitoring themselves for symptoms. Officials remind community members that the governor has ordered Summit County residents not to leave the county. Similarly, visitors are not to come to the mountains.
This comes on the heels of mandates ordering ski areas, bars, restaurants and retail stores to shut down earlier this week, along with the closures of other public spots such as recreation centers, libraries and schools.
“We know that the only way to slow the spread of this virus is to keep people away from each other,” Wineland said. “This requires sacrifice and discipline, and it requires compassion for the most vulnerable among us. We don’t take these public health directives lightly. We know that our businesses and nonprofits are already are strained, and all of us are having to give up many of our normal social interactions. But everyone needs to keep in mind that if we all faithfully abide by these measures, it will have a direct impact on how long this situation lasts and how severe it becomes. And staying home will literally save lives.”
Additionally, health officials recommend washing hands frequently, regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces – including door handles, computer keyboards and countertops – and covering all coughs and sneezes with tissues or within the crook of your arm. Anyone showing symptoms of illness should stay home and isolated to the greatest extent possible, regardless of whether COVID-19 is suspected. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and respiratory discomfort. In most cases among otherwise healthy people, no medical intervention is needed. If symptoms persist or worsen, patients should call their medical providers.
Resources for those who are home-bound or have financial distress, including needs for food, housing, utility assistance or other emergency needs, can consult with a number of organizations providing help. Those are listed at http://www.summitcountyco.gov/Blog.aspx?IID=301#item.
The latest information on COVID-19 in Summit County may be found on the County’s website at SummitCountyCO.gov/COVID. The Summit County Emergency Operations Center no longer will send out a press release about every positive case, but the number of positive cases will be updated daily at noon on that webpage.