The COVID-19 outbreak has been a quickly evolving incident and SJBPH continues to implement responsive steps to address the virus. SJBPH activated its Department Operations Center in February and implemented its Public Health Emergency Operations Plan at that time. As the lead agency in the public health emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak, SJBPH is providing multi-agency coordination among hospitals, providers, emergency managers, emergency medical transport, first responders, long term care facilities, schools, and other community partners.
Early on in the response, SJBPH identified trigger points (types of cases) with next steps ready for partner notifications, general communications, and our disease investigation and control operations, including quarantine and isolation monitoring, and contact tracing for positive COVID-19 cases.
As the need for community COVID-19 testing became apparent, SJBPH activated two drive-through testing sites in March 2020, in La Plata and Archuleta counties, one of the first local public health agencies to do so in the state. SJBPH has also coordinated with local partners both public and private to expand ongoing community testing to offer a number of testing options in both Archuleta and La Plata counties. Information on testing options can be found here.
The COVID-19 outbreak has heightened the need for timely, transparent, and accurate information on the risks to public health and safety as well as updates on the public health response to the disease. SJBPH is distributing the most updated information and guidance to the sectors mentioned above as well as to the general public through a variety of channels including print media, radio, tv, the SJBPH website, social media, and bulletin boards. SJBPH strives to provide this on a daily basis, and also collaborates with many local agencies and organizations on shared messaging for a wide range of sectors in the community. SJBPH provides a data dashboard on its coronavirus page to share statewide and local data.
In response to the positive COVID-19 cases identified locally, SJBPH is already performing public health best practice steps for disease investigation, including contact tracing. Contact tracing includes:
- Identifying contacts of the individual by asking about the person’s activities and the activities of the people around them since the onset of the infectious period.
- All known contacts are identified and informed of their contact status, and the importance of receiving early care if they develop symptoms.
- Contacts will also be provided information about prevention of the disease. In some cases, quarantine or isolation is required for high risk contacts, either at home or in hospital.
Contact tracing by this method protects the privacy rights of patients in accordance with federal law, and details of the individuals’ whereabouts or contacts during the presumed infectious period will not be publicly shared by SJBPH. Individuals who are believed to have had contact with an infected person will be directly contacted by SJBPH staff.