Johnstown woman who tested positive for coronavirus is a health care employee
The Johnstown woman who tested presumptive positive for coronavirus is a health care employee who works at facilities in both Larimer and Weld counties.
Though the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment would not disclose which facilities the woman worked at, the Colorado Sun reported the woman works at Banner Health in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley.
The health department did not dispute the Sun's reporting when asked about the story by the Coloradoan on Thursday.
The case is the first — and only — case thus far in Larimer County. The woman is in her 50s and is self-isolating in her home, the county health department previously told the Coloradoan. It is believed she contracted the virus through close contact with someone who recently traveled.
People who came into prolonged, close contact with the woman in an emergency room are being asked to home quarantine for 14 days, according to the Colorado Sun's report.
Banner Health spokesperson Sara Quale said she could not comment on if an employee at their facility tested positive for the virus.
"Federal privacy laws protecting patient information are not set aside during an emergency," Quale said, adding that state and county health authorities "have more flexibility" in what they are able to release publicly.
The health care facilities where the woman worked are "owning the investigation," health department spokeswoman Katie O'Donnell said. "There are state and CDC restrictions they have to follow. Once they do all their stuff, they'll loop us in."
O'Donnell said that process is typical. The health department is expecting the results of the investigation Saturday.
"It's not unusual for them to do their own investigation and then have public health brought in."
No cases in Weld County have been reported as of Thursday evening, according to the Colorado State Department of Health and Environment website.
As of Thursday evening, 48 people in Colorado had tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, with one additional undetermined case that is being treated as presumptive positive. In total, approximately 430 people have been tested in the state since Feb. 28, with 390 testing negative.
The Coloradoan has also requested information from medical groups about how hospitals are protecting health care workers and other patients from potential exposure.
Health care providers are asking people experiencing symptoms of the new coronavirus — including fever, coughing and shortness of breath — to call ahead to a health care facility rather than walking in. That allows facilities to make the proper preparations to protect others in the facility.
In order to get tested for COVID-19 in Colorado, Governor Jared Polis has released expanded qualifications for who is allowed to get tested in the state:
- Anyone, including a health care worker, who had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of presenting symptoms AND has a fever or symptoms of a lower-respiratory illness.
- Anyone with a history of travel to an area with ongoing community transmission within 14 days of showing symptoms AND has a fever or symptoms of a lower-respiratory illness with no alternative explanation (like the flu).
- Anyone who is hospitalized AND has a fever or symptoms of a lower-respiratory illness with no alternative explanation (like the flu).
- Anyone who lives in a residential facility (ie. nursing homes, assisted living facilities, etc.) AND has a fever or symptoms of a lower-respiratory illness with no alternative explanation (like the flu).
- Any health care worker, clinical lab worker or first responder who has an onset of symptoms within 14 days of contact with a patient showing symptoms of the virus or their clinical specimens AND has a fever or symptoms of a lower-respiratory illness with no alternative explanation (like the flu).
- Anyone who is at risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, including adults age 65 and older and/or have previous medical conditions AND has a fever or symptoms of a lower-respiratory illness with no alternative explanation (like the flu).
- Anyone in or a part of a group with multiple symptomatic individuals being investigated by public health officials AND has a fever or symptoms of a lower-respiratory illness.
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Brooklyn Dance covers breaking news and K-12 education. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @hibrookIyn. Sady Swanson covers crime, courts, public safety and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at email@example.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support our work and local journalism with a digital subscription at Coloradoan.com/subscribe.