La Plata County reported 48 new cases of COVID-19 in the past two weeks, and Archuleta County has reported five new cases, the largest growth in cases in 10 weeks for both counties.
San Juan Basin Public Health found through contact tracing that some of the cases resulted from family or “mixed household gatherings,” such as indoor parties, in the area.
“Other contact-tracing investigations have shown that some cases represent transmission within a single household,” Claire Ninde, spokeswoman for San Juan Basin Public Health, said in an email to The Durango Herald.
Several people with the virus were unable to give contact tracers sufficient information to determine where they may have contracted it, which means they contracted the virus in the community instead of through travel to another location, Ninde said. However, the increase in cases in recent weeks shows people are catching the disease in Southwest Colorado, instead of through travel to highly infected areas, Ninde said.
In the last two weeks, San Juan Basin Public Health has done contact tracing on 30 cases in the community. The number of contacts each person has had ranges from zero to 20, but that number continues to grow with the ongoing investigation, Ninde said.
“With widespread community transmission, it’s more important now than ever to keep your social contacts low, avoid high-risk activities like indoor gatherings and wear a face covering,” she said.
San Juan Basin Public Health continues to investigate an outbreak of COVID-19 at Tile Art of Durango after two people tested positive for the disease last week. Two or more cases within a 14-day period at a single location are considered an outbreak under Colorado state guidelines.
“Good workplace practices likely prevented the outbreak from being much worse,” Ninde said.
Another outbreak occurred at a hotel construction site on Camino del Rio late last month.
Colorado, as a whole, has also seen an increase in cases in the past few weeks because people are starting to meet in larger groups without wearing a mask or social distancing, a spokeswoman for the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center said in an email to the Herald.
“Our mobility data shows that younger populations are moving around more than older populations,” the spokeswoman said.
The total number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths reported early Tuesday was 135,615. The number of confirmed cases around the world exceeded 13 million this week, with the U.S. topping out at 3.3 million cases. About 61,000 new cases were reported Monday.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called for a “step back” in reopenings across the U.S. during a talk with the dean of Stanford’s medical school, according to The Associated Press.
Gov. Jared Polis announced the re-closure of bars in Colorado at the end of June, signaling he is prepared to ask businesses to step back if they are contributing to the rise in cases.
While Southwest Colorado has only a fraction of the cases northern New Mexico is experiencing, Ninde said it remains important to avoid large gatherings, wear a mask and wash hands frequently.
“We know how hard it is to keep going with them (these precautions) for so long, but now is not the time to give up on these practices,” Ninde said. “They will keep us safe.”