By Randi Pierce
Archuleta County’s incidence rate for COVID-19 is stable, with six cases added to San Juan Basin Public Health’s COVID-19 data dashboard between Feb. 10 and 17.
As of Wednesday, SJBPH reported 628 total cases of COVID-19 among residents and 135 cases among nonresidents. Archuleta County has no listed active outbreaks and one death among COVID-19 cases.
The county’s one-week cumulative incidence rate, per the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), is 64.3 cases per 100,000 population.
Archuleta County remains in Level Blue: Caution on the state’s COVID dial, which indicates capacity restrictions for different sectors of the economy.
“I think it’s a little bit human nature to hear good news and think that we can let down our guard a little bit,” said Brian Devine, SJBPH’s deputy incident commander for the agency’s COVID-19 response and environmental health director. “Archuleta County’s incidence rate has been very stable, it hasn’t been declining over the last week or two. It’s been quite stable — and that’s good, we’d rather have it stable than have it increase, but there’s quite a lot of virus circulating the community.”
He noted the number of people who have the disease at any one time is very high.
“We have several months before we’re back to the levels of diseases in Colorado that we experienced last summer,” he said, noting that current trends point toward that happening around late April.
He suggested that people need to continue to avoid large crowds (especially indoors), avoid socializing with other households (especially indoors), practice good habits with face coverings and social distancing, and to continue to be tested when appropriate.
“There’s a lot of testing available in Archuleta County and people absolutely need to take advantage of it,” he said, adding that SJBPH and its partners have worked very hard to ensure people can get tested when they need to.
He suggested testing if you have symptoms, have been notified of an exposure or work in a high-contact job, with it suggested that those in high-contact positions be tested regularly.
“Always get tested if you have any symptoms,” he said, suggesting it is better to identify the disease before it starts spreading to avoid going backward.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Archuleta County’s one-week average positivity was 3.6 percent, according to the CDPHE.
The free COVID-19 testing site at the fairgrounds, located at 344 U.S. 84, continues to be operated in partnership with COVIDCheck Colorado.
The testing takes place under the all-weather Hughes Pavilion, with the site open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
You can register for your free test by going to www.covidcheckcolorado.org 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 drive-up asymptomatic community testing Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the northwest side of the medical center.
San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) encourages residents to get tested if they are symptomatic, think they’ve been exposed, or work in a high-contact position.
The state suggests that people with symptoms should always get tested immediately. Symptoms include:
• Fever or chills.
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
• Muscle or body aches.
• New loss of taste or smell.
• Sore throat.
• Congestion or runny nose.
• Nausea or vomiting.
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 the following 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.