More Than One, But All-For-One
**update** March 31, 2020 11 a.m.
Before the sunset yesterday, March 30, the second positive COVID-19 test result was reported by the Lake County Public Health Agency. “The patient is a 63-year-old male from Lake County likely exposed through community transmission. Public Health is investigating,” stated yesterday’s press release distributed by the local Public Information Officer.
By now, most people understand that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules protect a patient’s identity through confidentiality practices widely in use today. It’s healthcare’s “nunya” rule – none of ya business! Unfortunately, those ethical guidelines don’t play out in the same measure on today’s social media platforms, with each screen user deciding what to engage with, believe, and ultimately share. Please continue to be respectful.
Yet, of all the relevant COVID-19 information being exchanged in Leadville Today, it may just be an old-school chat room of professionals with the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) that can bring the steadiest sense of security for mountain active dwellers as they are asked to hold-in-place for likely another 30 days.
The CHA is the leading voice of the state’s hospital community, representing 100 hospitals and health systems throughout Colorado. It serves as a trusted, credible resource on health issues, hospital data, and trends. This virtual portal allows medical professionals to share information about a variety of topics, from the annual influenza patterns, as they make their way west each season, to the real-time data about marijuana-related visits to the emergency room. So what’s the COVID-19 chatter about in the CHA employee lounge these days?
For that intel, Leadville Today (LT) turns to the Chief Medical Officer for St. Vincent Hospital, Dr. Lisa Zwerdlinger.
“It seems like we’re all doing okay,” explained the doctor in an early Tuesday morning phone interview as the physician got in her daily treadmill workout on the other end of the conversation. Every day, statewide hospital workers are sharing how many beds they have? how many people are sick? how many people are in ICUs (Intensive Care Units), what their capacity is? For most hard-working, stuck-at-home Leadvillites, just knowing that these conversations are happening every morning can produce its own sigh of relief.
“The general consensus is,” shared the doctor who has been practicing medicine in Lake County (and beyond) for 22 years, “that most facilities are generally empty, and that we have plenty of room to surge.”
Yes, that’s one of the new words in the Coronavirus dictionary: surge. It’s added to the list along with “social distancing”, “Zoom meeting,” and “self-quarantining.” So will Colorado see a surge, like the one anticipated to peak in New York in two weeks?
“The only real comparison we have is influenza,” explained Dr. Lisa. “We typically know that when you start seeing your first cases of the flu on the east coast, then Colorado usually gets hit a month after that.” Once the flu hits town, the peak of infection usually goes on for two months after that, explained the physician.
As of this last day of March 2020, there have been less than 10 (ten) Coronavirus tests administered in Lake County, according to Zwerdlinger. “Of those, two have come back positive. One has come back negative.” Over the next several days, residents should prepare themselves for the rest of those test results to come in and be released to the public.
But those tests, regardless of their results, are not likely to alter the message that public health officials have been sending for the past month: the virus is in the Leadville and Lake County community; to protect yourself and your family, follow the guidelines. Readers should also understand that there has not been an onslaught of new testing in Leadville. In fact, unless a patient meets the Center for Disease Control guidelines, a COVID-19 test will not even be administered. Still, for some, getting those initial positive confirmations makes Coronavirus a reality, it has officially reached the mountaintop.
“This is not new information that’s out there. It’s just information that confirms what we already knew,” confirmed Dr. Lisa.
And most times, that’s what people really want to know. More than the names or personal details about patients, they want to understand that community leaders are suited up. More than the workplace of infected patients, neighbors want to understand that healthcare workers have the proper equipment to take on the next storm. Families want to be reassured that these internal and cross-county relationships are well established in the mountain medical community.
Be assured, they are. They have been. And if you live in Leadville Today, that’s good to know.
Hold Steady, Proceed With Caution
This morning, Monday, March 30 Lake County reported its first official positive COVID-19 case to health officials and the news media in a press release distributed by Lake County Public Information Officer Betty Benson.
The patient is a 50- year old female from Lake County and likely exposed through community transmission public health officials will be investigating. You can read the full press release HERE. LT will continue to update this post as additional news comes in.
As a reminder, when positive results are received, out of both the respect for the individual and national privacy laws, Public Health does not release information regarding the identity of those who receive positive test results. If you know someone who has received a positive test result, please be respectful of their privacy and do not share that information with others.
Community transmission is occurring in Colorado. In Leadville and Lake County due to limited testing, many individuals are being asked to self-quarantine or isolate without being tested. A positive test is only one, very limited indicator of the virus in the local community. Knowing who has or has not been tested does not change the need to continue to observe social distancing and the Governor’s Stay-At-Home order.
If you believe you have been exposed, quarantine at home for 14 days and be observant of any onset of symptoms. Individuals with symptoms should isolate themselves at home until you have met the following factors: At least 3 days (72 hours) without fever, with no use of fever-reducing medications; AND improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
Leadville Today will continue to bring readers the latest news concerning the virus and its impact on Lake County. Here is a list of stories covered thus far about COVID – 19.
- Ready or Not? Preparedness in Pbville – March 10
- The Closures. The Plan. The Truth. – March 15
- Shelter (Food & Water) from the Storm – March 17
- The 411 on the 911 in the 80461 – March 19
- Mountain Medicine: Wisdom From Above – March 21
- Paper or Plastic: On the Frontlines – March 26
- Melly Masks: Made in Leadville – March 27
- Close Quarters: Cloud City Quarantine – March 29
Message from Fr. Rafael Rico-Torres/Holy Family Parish