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‘Shelter in Place,’ Officials Tell Colorado Mountain Town

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Healthcare workers plan to test everyone in San Miguel County for COVID-19, where residents of Telluride and other small towns face a shelter-in-place order.

High in a remote corner of the Rocky Mountains, Telluride, Colorado, may already seem isolated. But the coronavirus COVID-19 has now triggered officials to issue a shelter-in-place order as of this morning.

It’s the first shelter-in-place order in Colorado, affecting approximately 7,400 residents in the county, according to the 2010 census. It’s home to Telluride Ski Resort, which Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ordered closed along with all other resorts in the state this month.

Further, the county has partnered with a private company to test all its residents with a blood draw instead of the more common method of oral and nasal swabs. The goal is to test every person in the county in hopes to determine if anyone has contracted the virus and to limit exposure to it.

According to a press release, San Miguel County does not yet have any confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, it has several critically ill residents requiring intensive hospitalization. County officials suspect these people have COVID-19.

There are also multiple cases in children under 4 years old in regional emergency departments with serious symptoms concerning for COVID-19.

“We’ve entered a new and concerning phase that requires swift action. We have an opportunity to arrest the spread of COVID-19 and potential loss of life,” said Dr. Sharon Grundy, San Miguel County medical officer.

According to a press release, people who violate the shelter-in-place order may face criminal and civil charges.

Entire County Tested for COVID-19, First in Nation

According to the release, San Miguel County is partnering with United Biomedical (UBI) and its subsidiary c19. These companies will test the entire county with UBI’s COVID-19 blood test. It claims to be the first entire county in the United States to undergo testing.

UBI and c19 and will offer the test to residents free of charge. The Public Health Department of San Miguel County will administer the tests. It also hopes doing so will provide a more accurate assessment of the disease’s prevalence.

Testing, in combination with strategic shelter-in-place public health orders, will provide the best chance to mitigate losses, including loss of life, the release states.

San Miguel County Public Health Order

This public health order took effect at 12:01 a.m., March 19, 2020. It remains in effect until at least April 3, 2020, at the discretion of the public health director. The details follow:

  • Shelter in place
  • Prohibition of all events with more than 10 people
  • No events at daycare centers, child care centers, home child care centers, private schools and day schools, community recreational centers, ice rinks, and libraries
  • Prohibition of all events at food establishments except for the provision of takeout and delivery of food
  • Cease all activities at business facilities in the county except for minimum basic operations and essential services
  • Cease operations and reservations to short-term lodging
  • All public transportation is considered an event
  • Visitors to San Miguel County are directed to return home immediately; all non-resident homeowners are strongly encouraged to leave the county and return to their primary place of residence.

“Our actions now seem exaggerated to some, but let me assure you all, any actions we want to take later will be severely inadequate,” Dr. Grundy said.

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