Virus status update

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County public health director Alice Harvey updated the board of county commissioners Tuesday on changes to the state and county response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The county is working on its Phase 2 plan, and the commissioners planned a special meeting Wednesday to officially approve a statement that when the state’s recommendations are “less stringent” than the county’s, the state’s recommendations will prevail.

Updated guidelines for various industries and for summer events will be available on the county’s website along with the form for event plans. Private individuals are not required to submit an event plan for approval by the Board of County Commissioners, but Harvey said public health would be happy to review plans and make suggestions.

Testing

Harvey said RBC Public Health has been able to get swabs for the hospitals and public health so they can expand testing. The first drive-through testing at public health in Meeker took place last week.

“We have good, robust testing capability on both sides of the county.”

Commissioner Moyer asked about antibody testing, which is now available at PMC.

Harvey replied, “antibody tests are not really reliable. It doesn’t guarantee that you’re immune,” she said. Additionally, all the antibody tests that have been done at PMC have “so far been negative.”

Contact Tracing

Public Health is taking advantage of free training for contact tracing to prepare for the next phase. “With our small staff, contact tracing would be one of our biggest challenges in the event of an outbreak here,” Harvey said.

In contact tracing, public health officials work with patients to help them recall everyone they’ve had close contact with while they may have been contagious. Contacts are told they may have been exposed, but are not given the identity of the patient. The goal of contact tracing is to stop chains of transmission by urging people who may have been exposed to stay home, maintain social distance, and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

By NIKI TURNER | editor@ht1885.com

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