Australian visitor in Aspen confirmed to have coronavirus after returning home |

Australian visitor in Aspen confirmed to have coronavirus after returning home

A Centers for Disease Control illustration of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

A woman visiting Aspen from Australia has been confirmed to have COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment said Sunday in an update.

“We are aware of a confirmed COVID-19 case in Australia with ties to the Aspen community. One woman in her 20s who was visiting Aspen returned home to Australia earlier this week, where she tested positive for COVID-19,” the CDPHE said Sunday in a news release. “The individual had contact with Aspen residents and visitors at social gatherings; some of the people who had contact with the woman have reported experiencing respiratory symptoms.”

The state agency said it is working with Pitkin County Public Health to reach out to people who were known to have been in contact with the Australian patient during her Aspen visit.

Officials have not yet said where the woman traveled or the dates she was in Aspen.

The agency said it is working on a plan to get symptomatic people tested. CDPHE and the State Emergency Operations Center are monitoring this issue and working closely with local health and safety agencies to support their needs.  

An official with Pitkin County said Sunday evening that the county has deployed its higher-level incident command team.

That team had a call Sunday afternoon and is meeting Sunday night in Aspen, the city’s public information officer Tracy Truelove said. There will be more information released Monday, said Truelove, who is part of the incident team.

“The incident management team is pulling together a testing team, and once CDPHE provides more details on who was in contact with the infected party that activation will begin,” Truelove said late Sunday night. 

Earlier in the evening, Truelove said the team has been preparing this for a few weeks, and “there is no cause for hysteria. We have people on point and planning.”

“As of this post we have no positive cases of COVID-19 in our community,” Pitkin County Public Health posted on its Facebook page at 10:25 p.m. Sunday. “The CDPHE is testing certain individuals who may have been exposed. We will keep you posted when there is new information to share.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the incubation period, which is the time between being exposed to a germ and having symptoms of the illness, can be as short as two days to as long as 14 days. Current estimates suggest that symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear around five days on average.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Symptoms and how to stay healthy

As of 4:45 p.m. Sunday, the CDPHE has performed 255 tests in the state, and eight have been positive. That number does not include the Aspen visitor.

According to the county’s COVID-19 information page, in Colorado there are three circumstances where health care providers may decide that you need to be tested: 

Clinical Features&Epidemiologic Risk
Fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath)AND Any person, including health care workers, who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset
Fever or signs/symptoms of a lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) without alternative explanatory diagnosis (e.g., influenza)
AND A history of travel to areas with ongoing community transmission within 14 days of symptom onset
Severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., pneumonia, ARDS) requiring hospitalization and without alternative explanatory diagnosis (e.g., influenza)
AND No source of exposure has been identified

The CDPHE recommends if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and live in Aspen, call 970-456-2199 for instructions prior to visiting a health care facility. They stress that you should not show up at a hospital without first calling to let them know you are coming.

Last week, the Public Health Incident Management Team was activated with Public Health Director Karen Koenemann as commander, Carlyn Porter, the county’s emergency response and epidemiology administrator, told county commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.

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