County Preparing for Forecasted Surge in COVID-19 Cases

County Preparing for Forecasted Surge in COVID-19 Cases

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If you still have questions or need assistance, visit the County’s COVID-19 Response site or call their hotline for non-medical questions: 970-728-3844.

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San Miguel County Public Health and Environment is working with multiple agencies and regional partners to prepare for a forecasted surge in COVID-19 cases in the county.

“Current forecasting shows an increasing number of cases in our county and in the state over the next two weeks,” Grace Franklin, Public Health Director said. “We know our public health orders are working to flatten the curve but it’s critical that our community continues to diligently follow best practices.”

County health officials use state data as well as tracking from county clinics and EMS. State data is largely based on a model developed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado School of Public Health.

“To the extent we see new cases, we are hoping for a slow rise in cases, but we have to be prepared for a surge,” Franklin said.

County health officials say now more than ever we need to follow public health orders and stay at home and practice physical distancing.

Health officials are also emphasizing the importance of wearing face masks when in public indoor places such as the grocery store or post office.

“We know that people who don’t feel sick can carry this virus and infect others. It wouldn’t take much to have a small outbreak of cases,” County Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Grundy said.

A main element of the county’s emergency preparedness plan is identifying different tiers of patient severity, where to care for them, and how to get them to that definitive care.

“We are preparing to handle all levels of patient needs while maintaining our clinics’ ability to care for other patients as well,” Dr. Grundy said. “It would not take much to max-out our county resources, so we have to be prepared for a surge.”

Healthcare providers will identify patients who can stay at home and recover, those who need to recover at lower elevation, those who need to be transported to regional facilities and hospitals, and those who need medical air transport to a hospital.

“There is no hospital in San Miguel County, and we have very small medical clinics. With much of the area at high altitude, we have a lot of factors to consider for our COVID-19 patient care,” Dr. Grundy said.

The Telluride Regional Medical Center and Uncompahgre Medical Center have been preparing staff, equipment, space and other resources since early March.

Both clinics are reporting their respiratory case statistics weekly to the county to assist in its forecasting efforts.

Emergency planners are meeting weekly with the medical clinics to refine their alternative care facility plans for a potential surge.

Regional partners include Montrose Memorial Hospital which quadrupled its Intensive Care Unit capacity last month.

“What’s amazing is Montrose health officials aren’t looking at this with county lines and boundaries. They are treating our county as part of their medical family, and we can’t thank them enough,” Dr. Grundy said.

County plans have both Telluride Regional Medical Center and Uncompahgre Medical Center staff positioned to help staff Montrose facilities as available and if necessary.

Surge projections from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are changing frequently.

“We have to be flexible when trying to predict the unpredictable,” Franklin said.

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