La Plata and Archuleta counties are seeing a “significant” rise in COVID-19 cases, according to San Juan Basin Public Health.
In three weeks, the counties reported an increase of 88 cases among residents; 78 in La Plata and 10 in Archuleta. That includes a 19-case increase since Monday. The department’s announcement comes after two new coronavirus outbreaks in La Plata County and several temporary restaurant closures because of the coronavirus.
“As social events move indoors this fall and winter, good social habits will be critical to containing spread,” SJBPH said in a news release Tuesday. “We thank all community members for continuing to do their part to protect themselves and others during this pandemic.”
On Thursday, La Plata County cases totaled 362 among residents; Archuleta, 65 cases among residents, according to SJBPH. Each county reported additional cases among nonresidents who tested positive while visiting the area.
The health department attributed the rise in cases to workplace outbreaks, social gatherings and household transmissions.
Since Oct. 7, five La Plata County restaurants temporarily closed after staff members had possible exposure or tested positive for the virus.
Grassburger and Lucky 7 Construction have been listed as active outbreaks, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. An outbreak is defined as two positive COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period. The data is updated weekly on Wednesday afternoon.
Archuleta County has one active outbreak at HG Guide Services, a hunting camp.
“We’ve had demonstrated outbreaks in a number of our favorite restaurants,” said Durango Mayor Dean Brookie during a City Council meeting Tuesday. “I just implore us as a community to ignore the statements in the press about ... using a mask is worthless. It’s what’s keeping our economy alive.”
SJBPH urged community members to practice public health precautions to prevent viral spread, particularly during the holiday season.
The health department instructed people to:
Stay home as much as possible.Practice social distancing (at least 6 feet from another person).Wear face coverings when in public.Practice good hygiene by washing hands properly, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.People should get tested if they have symptoms or believe they have been exposed through a known contact or community interaction.As of Thursday, Colorado has had 90,222 cumulative COVID-19 cases since March. The state’s case numbers ranked 33rd out of 60 U.S. states and territories, and 46th when adjusted for population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.
La Plata and Archuleta counties have often reported lower case numbers than other Colorado counties since the first coronavirus cases began occurring locally in March.
“Local individuals, families, businesses and organizations have done difficult, important work to control the spread of the virus by following good public health precautions,” the news release said. “SJBPH appreciates these efforts and believes that they are responsible for our lower case counts in both counties, compared to other communities statewide and nationally.”
As of Thursday, La Plata ranked 21st out of 64 Colorado counties; Archuleta ranked 44th, according to CDPHE county data. When adjusted for population, La Plata County is 51st in the state and Archuleta County is 54th out of 64 counties.
“Durango, Bayfield – we’re not doing as well as other places, but we are doing better than the state as a whole,” Brookie said. “But the state as a whole ... is in an upward trend.”
[email protected]This story has been updated to include a population-adjusted COVID-19 case ranking for Archuleta and La Plata counties.