As of this morning, we are unaware of any new cases of COVID-19 in Elbert County. The Elbert County Board of County Commissioners has extended the county’s Local Disaster Emergency Declaration for another 7-day period.
At his daily COVID-19 press briefing yesterday, Governor Polis provided an explanation of the likely progression of the virus with the adjustments Coloradans are making and without. I have attached his presentation slide deck to this email. I’d like to draw your attention to slides #4 and #5 which illustrate the virulent nature of COVID-19, and also the amount of time it takes for the virus to run its course. Each Colorado coronavirus patient is spreading the disease to as many as four people. People infected with COVID-19 can have markedly different experiences. Some report having nothing more than symptoms of a common cold, while others are hospitalized and even die as their lungs become inflamed and fill up with fluid. The Governor emphasized that the number of cases listed in daily reports are far from an exact representation of the overall problem. A more sensitive measure of the virus spread includes key indicators such as the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 symptoms, and also the number of medical interventions necessary to save lives.
It may be helpful to think of the larger approach to combatting the virus spread as needing layers of protection. This includes measures at an individual level (i.e., hand washing, covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue, avoiding touching your face, etc.), a relationship level (avoiding close contact with family, peers, people in your social network), a community level (implementing social distancing policy, and closing schools, gyms, restaurants, bars, etc.), and at the societal level (changing social and cultural norms through issuance of Stay at Home Orders). Each layer of protection, and the extent to which people practice and adhere to them, reduces the spread of the virus. These factors will dictate the timeline for easing of restrictions and a return to some level of typical daily activities. This is why acting quickly with the Executive Orders was so important.
Governor Polis and CDPHE also updated the public health order corresponding with the stay-at-home executive order. The changes include:
- Critical businesses must comply with a stay at home and social distancing requirements and should minimize staff to those who are critical to the functioning of the business.
- Necessary travel now includes transporting children between separate households pursuant to a parenting plan or other agreement governing parental responsibilities and non-residents returning to their place of residence.
- Essential government services now include airports, activities related to the conduct of elections, and local governments.
- Minimum basic operations now include filling online product orders and to process customer orders remotely.
You can read the updated public health order at https://bit.ly/2UWaDXl.
Lastly, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has recently become aware of some people mistakenly using as a COVID-19 treatment for humans. Chloroquine phosphate is used to treat disease in aquarium fish, and has been mentioned in some media reports that its use as a treatment for malaria may hold promise for treating COVID-19. One person in the U.S. has already died after he and his wife reportedly took chloroquine used to treat their fish in an attempt to prevent COVID-19; his wife also became very ill. Per guidance from the CO Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management:
Do not use chloroquine phosphate, or anything a health care provider does not prescribe, as a COVID-19 remedy. It could kill you.
- Do not ingest aquarium use products or any other chemicals that contain chloroquine phosphate. These chemicals are not intended for human consumption and can lead to serious health consequences, including death.
- Medications like chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate should be taken only when prescribed by and under the supervision of your healthcare provider and always according to the instructions provided.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any unexpected symptoms after taking chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine by contacting your healthcare provider or your poison center (1-800-222-1222).
My next update will be sent on Monday, March 30. Until then, please continue to promote community safeguards aimed at mitigating the spread of the virus.
Dwayne Smith, MEd, MCHES®, CPST
Administrator, Elbert County Public Health