Over the past few days, the Colorado State Health Department, along with the Governor, released a series of updates about COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus.
As of this morning, Governor Polis has declared a State of Emergency in Colorado, and has announced 15 presumptive positive cases. The Governor has directed the State to pursue financial measures to make it easier for employees to stay home if they get sick, rather than exposing others to the virus in fear of losing their job.
This is a summary of the updates, and what people should be doing to avoid falling ill and take the right steps if they do happen to fall ill.
If a person is exhibiting signs of COVID-19, such as a fever, coughing or shortness of breath, and has not yet been tested, the following steps are advised:
- The person should abstain from all public gatherings.
- The person should increase distance from close contacts. Six feet is the recommended distance that reduces risk of transmission of the virus, spread mainly through coughing and sneezing.
- The person should continue to practice basic hygiene like hand-washing with soap and water; in the absence of soap and water, use hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol; cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- The person should call a medical provider or nursing line BEFORE going into a health facility.
- If instructed to seek care, following the precautionary advice of the medical provider needed for influenza, other respiratory illness, and COVID-19.
- If a patient needs to be tested for COVID-19, the medical provider will collect a specimen from the patient’s nose and throat and send the samples to the state lab or commercial lab that is capable of doing COVID-19 testing.
Visit THIS WEBSITE for the most up-to-date information.
The state lab does NOT charge for the actual laboratory testing of specimens, and the Governor has ordered health insurers to ELIMNATE COSTS for people to get examined for COVID-19 – nobody should stop themselves from seeking assistance due to fear of a medical bill!
For people who are uninsured, the State continues to explore options.
Additional clarifying information on tests:
- The State is expecting 700 more test kits from the CDC, and it currently has 900.
- The state lab has the capacity to do 160 COVID-19 tests per day, but must prioritize specimens that meet the current criteria.
- State lab practice is to test 2 specimen samples per patient, which requires 2 tests.
- The State is working on increasing testing capacity.
Coloradans can take basic preventive steps to protect themselves from COVID-19:
- Practice good hygiene. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water; in the absence of soap and water, use hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol; cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Increase your distance from other people. Six feet reduces the risk of giving others COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, but stay in a separate room as much as you can.
- Stay home if you’re sick; keep your children home if they are sick.
- Stay informed with reliable, up-to-date information. People who have general question about coronavirus disease 2019 can call CO HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 or email them at COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and more.
- Be prepared. FEMA guidance for pre-pandemic COVID-19 preparedness is available on ready.gov. Helpful information about getting your household ready for coronavirus is available on CDC’s website HERE.
It is vital to stay updated and continuously check back to the links above for any additional information on the virus. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you need assistance with finding information.