Tri-County Health Department Closely Watching Novel Coronavirus

Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to monitor residents with recent travel to China for 2019 Novel Coronavirus, (2019-nCoV) infection as they return to Colorado. While the risk to the general public is low, and Colorado has no confirmed cases, TCHD is monitoring some travelers who recently returned from mainland China as a precautionary measure to be sure they are not experiencing symptoms of 2019-nCoV. TCHD also set up plans for seeking medical care in case illness develops and put into place steps to prevent spread of the virus.

“We know there is heightened concern about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus as it continues to spread in China,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of TCHD. “However, it is important to remember the risk of getting infected with this virus is low in the United States because we have so few cases. The highest risk for being exposed are to people who recently traveled from China or are in close contact with someone diagnosed with 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”

Using direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CDPHE, Tri-County Health Department’s approach is to assess travelers in Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties that are returning from China to determine their exposure risk, how to monitor for symptoms, and whether individuals should restrict their movement or activities for up to two weeks after departing China. The CDC has put into place at the federal level separate protocols to manage travelers from China who are already experiencing symptoms of 2019-nCoV; these ill individuals are clinically evaluated and kept in isolation at 11 airports around the U.S. that are accepting flights from China, which does not include Denver International Airport.

There are many kinds of coronaviruses circulating in Colorado that cause respiratory illness like the common cold – these viruses are different than 2019-nCoV and different than the flu. You can protect yourself and your family from any of the respiratory infections that occur so commonly this time of year by practicing everyday actions:

  • Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cough or sneeze into your arm or a tissue, then clean your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Get a flu shot if you haven’t gotten one this year.

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Symptoms usually appear within 14 days after exposure. People who have recently traveled to China and have symptoms should contact a healthcare provider before going to a clinic or emergency room in-person so proper precautions can be taken. If you have questions or concerns, please visit tchd.org/coronavirus for more information.