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RBC | “We all have to be vigilant,” Rio Blanco County Public Health Director told the board of commissioners Tuesday regarding an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
“We’re on the verge of community transmission,” she said. “It’s closing in on us.”
The four new cases in Rio Blanco in the last seven days have all been isolated, she explained. “We’re getting lots of exposures through hunting season.”
Meanwhile, neighboring counties have recorded record numbers of new cases. Mesa County has recorded 544 new cases — almost half of the total since the beginning of the pandemic — in the last two weeks. Moffat County has 20 active cases as of Monday, Oct. 26, with three hospitalizations in the last two weeks. Nationwide, more than 40 states, including Colorado, are reporting a surge in case counts, hospitalizations and deaths.
“If [our] case counts go up, regulatory changes will come from the state, not from the county,” Harvey said.
Relaxed restrictions under the Protect Our Neighbor status have also relaxed some attitudes about prevention and protection, at just the wrong time. “We’re continuing to see more pushback from the community and that’s discouraging, but we’re continuing to try to educate people,” Harvey said.
During a livestream with the HT Friday, Harvey explained the difference between quarantine and isolation, and said anyone who has had close contact with a COVID-infected person should quarantine — stay home — for 14 days from the time of exposure. That means no trips to the grocery store or the post office, no running errands, etc.
The purpose behind quarantine is limiting exposure to others in case you are infected and don’t know it yet. “Quarantine is one of our oldest tools for stopping the spread of infectious disease,” Harvey said.
Social distancing, hand washing and wearing face masks are other tools to prevent the spread, not just of COVID-19, but of other contagious illnesses.
The practice of quarantine can be traced to the Middle Ages, when incoming ships were held at the dock in case crew members were infected with any of the deadly, contagious diseases known at the time, from smallpox to measles to the plague.
Originally, the quarantine period was 30 days. That changed to 40 at some point, possibly because of the Biblical connotations to 40 day timespans.
Isolation differs from quarantine, in that it’s an effort to keep known infected persons separated from everyone.
The leper colonies of the Old Testament might be among the earliest examples of isolating diseased individuals in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading.
In better news, Harvey said this year’s public health plan for drive-thru flu shots and going to the schools and to some businesses was a success, with record-breaking numbers of people getting their flu shots and “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from the public. “We think we’ll do this every year from now on,” she said.
By NIKI TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org