COVID-19 case count rises to 20; 14 active

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Infographic from as of Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated from the Aug. 6 print and online edition to reflect 8 new cases added after press time. Of the 20, 15 are laboratory-confirmed positive, five are probable (symptomatic with known exposure); 14 are active, and six are recovered.

RBC | The county’s Board of Health convened Wednesday in a telephone meeting for an update on COVID-19 in the county and to discuss the application for moving into the Protect Our Neighbor phase of reopening. Within a few hours of the meeting, Public Health announced an additional confirmed positive case and two probable cases, bringing the county’s total case count to 12 with six recovered positive and six active cases out of 815 completed tests.

Thursday morning, eight additional positive cases were confirmed, bringing the total case count to 20, with 14 active cases.

Public Health Director Alice Harvey told the board they saw the first truly symptomatic cases last Friday. “One individual was high risk but is improving, stable and did not need hospitalization.” 

Two additional cases were reported on Monday, Aug. 3. One of those individuals resides in Garfield County but works in Rio Blanco County. That case does not add to the local case count, but local contact tracing is underway.

“The other case [from Monday] was entirely separate,” Harvey said. “They traveled outside of the county and were at a gathering where many other people had tested positive.”

Public Health follows up with positive cases to determine how they’re doing. At this point, no one from Rio Blanco County who has tested positive has required hospitalization.

Harvey also said 16 tests performed Monday were on members of two households and were related to one of the contacts on Friday. Twelve of the 16 were symptomatic. 

“We’re hoping that will be contained to those households,” she said. “We’ll be keeping a close eye on that situation.” Those tested have been instructed to quarantine. 

Test results are currently taking four or five days to return, but the department is looking at purchasing a rapid testing machine that can provide results in 15 minutes. That would be especially helpful for students returning to school because quick test results reduce time out of school for quarantine.

Harvey responded to questions from the commissioners and county staff regarding case definitions.

Active case: Defined as someone within the 14-day period from diagnosis whether symptomatic or asymptomatic.
Laboratory-confirmed case: Someone who has a positive laboratory test whether symptomatic or asymptomatic. 
Probable case: Someone who has known close contact with a positive case and meets the clinical criteria for symptoms. That counts as a case even without a test or with a negative test result. 

“There are many more false negatives than false positives at this point as far as we can tell,” Harvey told the HT via email earlier this week. “Accuracy rates vary, but currently it is much higher for false negatives. Both the WHO and the CDC state that we must treat positive PCR tests as positives, and also probable cases (symptoms + exposure) with negative tests as positives at this point.”

Harvey also said cases are going to be missed. The CDC estimates 40% of cases are asymptomatic, and probable cases are only found through investigation and reporting of symptoms.

“At the end of the day, there’s not a whole lot of distinction. I’m not defining those parameters, it’s coming directly from CDC,” she said.

Asked whether someone who has more than one positive test adds to the case count, Harvey said cases are defined by individuals, not by the tests. “Every person has an ID, we can’t double report,” she said. 

An “outbreak” is designed as two or more cases in one location within 14 days, and applies to businesses and health care facilities, not households.

At this point, RBC has not had any outbreaks, just single cases; no hospitalizations; and thankfully, no COVID-related deaths. 

For the most up-to-date information about county case counts, public health orders, and testing,  visit