First COVID-19 case confirmed in Pueblo County, What We Know

Pueblo County leaders are dealing with the county’s first case of COVID-19. As a result, leaders are advising additional precautions.

Local health officials announced in a Friday news conference the individual is an adult male in his 30s, and was admitted into Parkview Hospital’s emergency room. Not much is known about how the individual contracted the virus. Randy Evetts, Director of the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, said he is “recovering very well.”

Parkview Hospital was confident Friday afternoon their staff handled the individual properly and mitigated exposure to hospital staff and visitors.

“It was taken care of beautifully,” said Leslie Barnes, CEO of Parkview Hospital. Barnes said that the sample was taken with the staff wearing protective gear.

The patient was released and is recovering at home in isolation.

Rachel Morris, a spokeswoman at the hospital, confirmed that hospital staff were immediately aware of the patient’s symptoms and the patient was placed in isolated care.

Morris said “Parkview is not concerned it [COVID-19] is being spread inside the hospital.” 

As of Friday afternoon, Parkview has collected samples from nine individuals. Those samples were sent to state labs. Only one case has returned presumptive positive.

Health care officials have urged people showing possible novel coronavirus symptoms to first call the emergency room or their medical professional.

If individuals call 911, they should alert first responders so that paramedics, firefighters or police officers can mitigate their own risk. 

Local health officials are performing an investigation, but details as to who the individual had contact with and possible exposure to others are not yet known.

Earlier on Friday, in a statement, Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar advised the cancellation of all large gatherings in Pueblo and for the public to avoid large events. This was 24 hours after the mayor said that it was okay for the public to attend public events.

On Friday afternoon, Pueblo County and the City of Pueblo declared a state of emergency both entities could tap into financial resources to mitigate the spread.

Pueblo area schools, both District 60 and District 70, announced they would close school facilities until March 30. They are making accommodations for parents and teachers to come into the schools to get any essential items such as medication or teaching materials. Notices will be sent out to parents and teachers.

The two districts will continually reevaluate the situation, and if necessary, they will extend school closures or move to distance learning as needed. Both school districts will set up free lunch services for students who need meals.

The school districts will work in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Education to determine how best to meet their requirements for the state-required classroom education time.

Colorado Catholic Dioceses (Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo has cancelled all public masses until further notice.

As of Friday afternoon, the total cases of COVID-19 reached 72 presumptive positives and 524 negatives, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment website.

An El Paso County woman, in her 80s, with health complications, was the first Coloradan to die from COVID-19.