Veterans home in Rifle with COVID-19 outbreak goes into isolation as Garfield County experiences ‘sharp increase in cases’ |

Veterans home in Rifle with COVID-19 outbreak goes into isolation as Garfield County experiences ‘sharp increase in cases’

A Centers for Disease Control illustration of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

A COVID-19 outbreak at the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Rifle last week has prompted officials to restrict access, according to the Colorado Department of Human Services, which oversees the facility.

The outbreak comes as Garfield County experiences its most dramatic rise in coronavirus cases since the pandemic was declared last spring.

“There has been a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in Garfield County,” a Friday news release from Garfield County Public Health states.

The release also announced that the county’s COVID-19 Data website has been updated to provide a more interactive format using seven primary metrics for tracking the risk of disease spread locally.

As of Sunday, that data showed an average of 17.4 daily cases for the two-week period up to Friday, Nov. 6. It was highest two-week average so far for Garfield County, compared to 17.2 daily cases on average for the two-week period leading up to July 22. 

Silt has the highest number of cases per 10,000 people in the county, followed by Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Carbondale, Rifle and Parachute-Battlement Mesa.

Of the county’s 1,487 total cases, 62.5% are Hispanic or Latino and 35.1% are not Hispanic or Latino. A majority of cases have been in the 20-39 age range.

Veterans home

At the veterans home in Rifle, the CDHS reported that six positive test results among residents were confirmed Tuesday. One staff member was also confirmed to have contracted the virus.

“The positive staff member was not in the facility during his infectious period,” CDHS spokesperson Mark Techmeyer wrote Friday in an email sent to the Post Independent. “These are the first positive cases of the 50 residents that have occurred during the pandemic and were discovered through prevalence testing being conducted routinely at all Veterans Community Living Centers.”

The facility has implemented new rules in response to the outbreak.

“The residents are from three different neighborhoods at the facility; therefore, the entire facility has been placed on isolation with transmission-based precautions,” Techmeyer wrote.

Since June, five of the 112 total staff members at the Rifle location have tested positive for COVID-19, including the most recent case. 

Family members of the 50 residents, meanwhile, are continually being provided updates, Techmeyer wrote. Techmeyer, however, did not provide further specifics about the confirmed cases.

“Due to government privacy requirements, we cannot divulge specific information about the individuals who have confirmed or are suspected of contracting COVID-19,” Techmeyer wrote. “As with all of our Veterans Community Living Centers, we are continuing to work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to monitor the situation and take precautions where patients or staff may have been exposed.”

The CDHS will continue to report weekly updates to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network as required, Techmeyer wrote.

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