May 15, 2020 COVID-19 Daily Update

There are no new cases today for Alamosa County. Rio Grande County confirmed one positive, bringing our total number of cumulative positive cases in the SLV to 76. Fourteen of the total positive cases have been hospitalized. Twenty-five have completed isolation, and there have been two deaths. Numbers are updated weekdays at slvemergency.org/slv-covid-19.

Rio Grande and Saguache County Public Health Departments are working closely on a current outbreak. So far, there have been at least five positive individuals identified who work at Mountain King Spud Growers in Center (Rio Grande County). Some of the affected warehouse workers reside in Saguache County and are part of this week’s increase in Saguache County cases. Testing and investigation continues. Mountain King voluntarily closed this facility for increased cleaning and sanitizing. Mountain King management, like the Colorado Mushroom Farm, is collaborating with Public Health to ensure that conditions are safe for workers to return. Public Health investigations have identified some links between the two outbreaks.

Not all recent cases were linked to the recent outbreaks which indicates that there is still community spread in the Valley. Because COVID-19 is still present in the greater community, it is still important for everyone to continue to follow public health orders and take common-sense actions to protect themselves and others while we get back to business. Anyone can get the virus, and anyone can spread it. 

Friday FAQs:

How accurate is Diagnostic Testing (PCR test)?

Testing seems to be most accurate during the first few days after symptoms appear.  

Accuracy depends on the specificity as well as the sensitivity of the test. Specificity means how good the test is at correctly identifying the virus that it is looking for, and not confusing it with another type of virus. Specificity is high with the COVID-19 diagnostic test. Sensitivity means the likelihood that the test will detect the presence of the virus in a sample. This is what is more likely to produce a false result, if any. 

Can I get an Antibody test?

Currently, Valley providers do not offer these tests, but they may be doing antibody testing in the future. Antibody tests are reported to be less accurate, however. Also, these tests are not used to diagnose whether someone is or was sick with COVID-19, but rather for research purposes.

How many people have been tested so far?

We are updated on these numbers weekly. As of today, there have been 627 total diagnostic test samples taken in the San Luis Valley, which is less than 1% of our population. 

How long is the turn around between testing and the result?

This depends on the laboratory that the samples are shipped to, and the time the specimen was picked up for shipping per courier schedules. According to local providers, it varies from 24 to 48 hours. Some samples have an average 12 hour turnaround time between receipt by the lab and announcement of the results. Some labs may take longer to return results.

If I’m sick, am I required to go get tested? 

No one is required to get tested, it is voluntary. 

How does increasing testing help with the virus?

Testing is a tool to identify who currently has the virus and needs to isolate. It enables Public Health to identify people who may have had contact with them during the infectious period (contact tracing). Public Health can then advise contacts to either self-quarantine to see if symptoms develop, and/or be tested if testing is available. This is a very important part of the process, given that some infected people never show symptoms but can still pass the virus to others. Testing helps us slow the spread of illness. Without testing, we end up with alternatives like keeping everyone home, which we all agree is not a viable long term solution. 

Is the SLV doing enough testing?

About 22% of local tests have been positive. This indicates that we need more testing. Experts suggest that if positives are 10% or less of the total number of tests, the rate of testing is about right in a community. Higher than that means a lot of active infections are probably being missed. This is why continuing to increase testing is a high priority right now.

Does “isolation completed” mean the same thing as “recovered?” 

We don’t know enough about COVID-19 right now to say when someone has recovered. People may have lingering health effects in some cases, so we don’t use the term “recovered.”  “Isolation completed” means that at least 10 days have passed since a person’s symptoms began, and more than 72 hours have passed since their symptoms ended (without any fever-reducing medication). When this happens, they no longer need to isolate.

ALL symptomatic individuals are now encouraged to pursue testing. Please call one of the nurse-lines below to start the screening process.

• Rio Grande Hospital 719-657-4990

• SLV Health Nurse Line 719-589-2511 ext. 9

• Valley Wide Health Systems 719-589-3658 ext. 9

SLV COVID general questions 719-480-8719. You may also email your questions to slvepr@alamosacounty.org.

May 15, 2020

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