Health department updates coronavirus info sharing procedures in Colorado
Expressing a desire to share information via a “single, centralized, credible source,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Saturday updated its announcing procedures regarding new coronavirus cases in Colorado.
Eagle County was among several local health departments to report cases Friday.
In Eagle and Summit counties, public health offices used their websites and social media to issue updates about their respective coronavirus cases. Eagle County informed the public that the patient was not a local, and Summit County published information about the condo its coronavirus patient had stayed in as well as the airport from which he arrived to Colorado.
The state issued suggested guidelines regarding communications for local public health officials Saturday along with assurance that the department will update numbers daily on its website and provide daily media summaries over the course of the coming days.
Process not yet finalized
On Saturday, Eric France, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s chief medical officer, sent a letter to local public health agencies in the state, issuing the following directives on what to do if those jurisdictions encounter a presumptive case:
When the state CDPHE lab confirms a presumptive positive, CDPHE is directed to notify the Governor’s Office, the local public health agency, the provider and the media. Additionally, as commercial testing becomes available, CDPHE will be notified by laboratories and providers of positive test results and will follow the same communication procedures.
If the presumptive positive case is a resident of another state, CDPHE will take the lead. If the presumptive positive case is a Colorado resident and the county health department has the capacity to manage the investigation, then that county health department takes the lead and CDPHE plays a supporting role. If the county health department needs support, CDPHE will provide assistance.
The appropriate agency is tasked with continuing the epidemiological investigation — interviews, contact tracing and issuing isolation and quarantine instructions and orders to prevent community spread.
The CDPHE guidelines also reminded agencies that they are not to share identifiable information about the patient such as name, address or the location of the isolated patient or any individual under quarantine.
France told the Vail Daily on Saturday that the process of alerting the media has not yet been finalized, the department intends to let the community know what the process will look like soon.
“We are finalizing a process to update the press on new cases,” France wrote in an email.
No new cases
Eagle County residents expressed a desire to have the same information Summit County shared about its coronavirus patient, including where the person stayed and how that person arrived in the area, shared in Eagle County.
Kris Widlak, director of communications for Eagle County, said on Saturday that the local investigation was a joint effort between Eagle County Public Health and the CDPHE but had no more information to share about the patient.
No new cases were reported across the state following Friday’s tally of eight, according to the CDPHE, which conducted 44 tests on Saturday.
“We are focused on ensuring the public has access to accurate and up to date information,” said executive director Jill Hunsaker Ryan. “We are acting promptly and appreciate the coordination and efforts of local public health departments and officials. Colorado is in this together and we must continue to act accordingly.”