Coronavirus in Larimer County: First COVID-19 case found in woman with pneumonia
Larimer County has its first presumptive positive case of the new coronavirus, Colorado health officials announced Monday.
A Johnstown woman in her 50s tested positive for COVID-19, based on overnight testing, according to a news release from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The woman, who resides in the Larimer County portion of Johnstown, has been diagnosed with pneumonia, one of the more serious complications of the disease.
The investigation into how she contracted COVID-19 is "just beginning," according to the state health department. The department, as well as local health agencies, is gathering more information about the case and will contact individuals who have had close contact with the woman.
"As with any communicable disease, this case investigation will take us some time," Larimer County Department of Health and Environment said in a news release. "... In order to protect the privacy of the individual, identifying information and medical records will not be released to the public."
The Larimer County case is one of 11 presumptive positive cases in Colorado. There are three presumptive positive cases in Denver and Douglas counties, two in Eagle County and one case each El Paso, Larimer and Summit counties, according to data compiled by the health department.
A presumptive positive test result comes after testing at the state level, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said when announcing the state's first presumptive positive case on March 5. The results will be sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the test results.
The state health department also has ruled one case "indeterminate" after the test came back twice with inconclusive results. That case, out of Denver County, is being treated as a positive case out of an abundance of caution until the CDC can confirm results.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has not made recommendations for school closures or travel advisories and is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's discretion.
Larimer County Department of Health and Environment spokesperson Katie O'Donnell told the Coloradoan the agency was proactive in preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 cases locally before its first presumptive positive case was confirmed.
County health officials do not expect a dramatic uptick in cases to follow the first presumptive case, she added.
"This isn't a surprise and it isn't a need for panic," O'Donnell said.
Prior to Wednesday, all Larimer County COVID-19 test requests came through the health department, O'Donnell said. The department ran six tests, which all returned negative. Since Wednesday, all tests are sent directly to the state, instead of to the county department.
O'Donnell said the state has the capacity to run 160 tests per day, and test results can take up to 48 hours.
The county will continue to update information online at http://bit.ly/LarimerCountyCOVID19. You can submit your COVID-19 questions on that page as well.
What are coronavirus symptoms?
Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe; the virus can also be asymptomatic, meaning some people don't have any symptoms at all.
The most common symptoms mirror the flu and include fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some people also develop aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.
About 1 in 6 people becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing, according to the World Health Organization. If you experience fever, cough and shortness of breath, call your doctor.
Tips for staying healthy
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer.
- Cover coughs and sneezes, such as with a tissue or the corner of your elbow.
- Stay home when sick and keep kids home if they are sick.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
- Keeping enough food and other supplies at home to last for several days is always a good idea, Larimer County Department of Health and Environment spokesperson Katie O’Donnell said.
- If sick, don't go to the store, which could potentially spread illness. Avoid travel whenever possible.
- Please notify your school if your child needs to stay home sick and, if possible, share their symptoms. If they have a positive influenza diagnosis, also share that information.
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Sarah Kyle is a content coach at the Coloradoan. Contact her at email@example.com. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.