Australian visitor in Aspen confirmed to have coronavirus after returning home

David Krause
Aspen Times
A Centers for Disease Control illustration of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

A woman visiting Aspen from Australia has been confirmed to have COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment said Sunday in an update.

“We are aware of a confirmed COVID-19 case in Australia with ties to the Aspen community. One woman in her 20s who was visiting Aspen returned home to Australia earlier this week, where she tested positive for COVID-19,” the CDPHE said Sunday in a news release. “The individual had contact with Aspen residents and visitors at social gatherings; some of the people who had contact with the woman have reported experiencing respiratory symptoms.”

The state agency said it is working with Pitkin County Public Health to reach out to people who were known to have been in contact with the Australian patient during her Aspen visit. Officials have not yet said where the woman traveled or the dates she was in Aspen.

The agency said it is working on a plan to get symptomatic people tested. 

CDPHE and the State Emergency Operations Center are monitoring this issue and working closely with local health and safety agencies to support their needs. 

An official with Pitkin County said Sunday evening that the county has deployed its higher-level incident command team.

That team had a call Sunday afternoon and is meeting Sunday night in Aspen, the city’s public information officer Tracy Truelove said. There will be more information released either Sunday night or Monday morning, she said.

As of 4:45 p.m. Sunday, the CDPHE has performed 255 tests in the state, and eight have been positive. That number does not include the Aspen visitor.

According to the county’s COVID-19 information page, in Colorado there are three circumstances where health care providers may decide that you need to be tested: 

Clinical Features&Epidemiologic Risk
Fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath)AND Any person, including healthcare workers, who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmedCOVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset
Fever or signs/symptoms of a lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) without alternative explanatory diagnosis (e.g., influenza)
AND A history of travel to areas with ongoing community transmission within 14 days of symptom onset
Severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., pneumonia, ARDS) requiring hospitalization and without alternative explanatory diagnosis (e.g., influenza)
AND No source of exposure has been identifiedI

The CDPHE recommends if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and live in Aspen, call 970-456-2199 for instructions prior to visiting a health care facility.

Last week, the Public Health Incident Management Team was activated with Public Health Director Karen Koenemann as commander, Carlyn Porter, the county’s emergency response and epidemiology administrator, told county commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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