Archuleta County sees first COVID-related death


By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

On Wednesday, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reported Archuleta County’s first death related to COVID-19.

The agency noted that, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will ultimately determine whether this individual’s death was caused by COVID-19, the deceased, an older adult, is the first lab-confirmed individual to die after contracting the disease in Archuleta County.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this community member,” said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon. “The virus remains a real threat in our communities. It is vital that we remain focused on prevention efforts to protect those who are particularly vulnerable to developing more serious illness, including older adults and those with underlying health conditions.”

Additional information about the individual was not released.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Archuleta County had 571 cumulative lab-confirmed cases among permanent residents since March (an increase of 18 since Jan. 13) and 127 cumulative cases among nonresidents since June.

 Archuleta County continues to be in Level Orange: High Risk on the state’s COVID dial.

COVID-19 testing

The free COVID-19 testing site at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds, located at 344 U.S. 84, is being operated in partnership with COVIDCheck Colorado, and will be under the all-weather Hughes Pavilion. 

Testing will be available on Friday, Jan. 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

After that, beginning the week of Jan. 25, the test site will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

You can register for your free test by going to and selecting “Get My Test.”

According to a COVIDCheck Colorado flier, “COVIDCheck Colorado uses a highly sensitive and reliable nasal mid-turbinate swab PCR test that is administered by licensed medical professionals. Please arrive wearing a mask.”

Testing also continues to be available at a number of local health care facilities, including:

• Archuleta Integrated Healthcare: 264-2104.

• Pagosa Medical Group (including rapid testing if deemed appropriate by a provider): 372-0456.

• Pagosa Springs Medical Center: 731-3700. The facility offers testing for symptomatic patients through its clinic and offers testing to asymptomatic individuals through drive-through testing to the right rear of the medical center. The drive-thru testing is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day but Sunday. 

COVID-19 symptoms

The state suggests that people with symptoms should always get tested immediately. Symptoms include:

• Fever or chills.

• Cough.

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

• Fatigue.

• Muscle or body aches.

• Headache.

• New loss of taste or smell.

• Sore throat.

• Congestion or runny nose.

• Nausea or vomiting.

• Diarrhea.

Steps to slow the spread

To prevent further spread of disease and to protect vulnerable people, including older adults and those with underlying health conditions (such as those with heart and lung disease, pregnant women, and people with diabetes), SJBPH urges everyone to follow these important public health precautions: 

• Wearing face masks. 

• Social distancing of at least 6 feet.

• Avoiding nonessential indoor spaces and gatherings with others not in your household.

• Getting tested if you are symptomatic, think you’ve been exposed, or if you work in a high-contact position. 

• Avoiding unnecessary travel. 

• Washing hands well. 

• Getting the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available.