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Colorado Identifies First Two Coronavirus Cases

Gov. Jared Polis discusses Colorado's first confirmed COVID-19 case
Gov. Jared Polis discusses Colorado's first confirmed COVID-19 case

Colorado has its first two "presumptive positive" cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the latest coronavirus. State health officials on Thursday confirmed an out-of-state visitor to Summit County has tested positive.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the first case identified is a male in his 30s who contracted the virus somewhere outside the state. He’s being treated in isolation in the Denver metro area. Public health investigators are attempting to track down anyone who might have had contact with the infected man while he was visiting Summit County.

"We have been preparing for this moment, and now we are in the execution phase of this plan," Gov. Jared Polis said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. "I have full confidence in our state health officials to respond to this threat."

The man who tested positive had been traveling recently in Italy, where there has been a major outbreak of the novel coronavirus. He flew to Colorado for outdoor recreation in Summit County. Polis said he went skiing at Keystone and Vail Mountain Resort. 

Polis said the man arrived at DIA on Feb. 29 when he was asymptomatic. He added the state has no reason to believe other travelers were at risk.

He said the man's fiance and two traveling companions are in quarantine as a precaution. 

Polis said late Thursday the second patient with a presumed case of COVID-19 is an older woman from Douglas County who had recently returned to Colorado after traveling abroad. The woman is isolated at home per CDC guidelines. 

While a state laboratory returned a positive result, the cases still need to be tested by the Centers for Disease Control. 

State health officials said the risk to the general public remains low.

"Coloradans get sick every day, and I don't want anyone to panic over this," he said. 

He urged residents to continue using best hygeine practices, such as washing hands regularly and staying home when someone feels ill.

"Our hope is that by acting quickly and by acting boldly, we hope that we don’t need additional resources," Polis said. "We hope we don’t need to invoke a (state of emergency)."

We are diligently managing this situation and will be holding a press conference to update Coloradans with the latest at 4:45. You can watch it live on my Facebook page. pic.twitter.com/D75zji8RBx— Jared Polis (@GovofCO) March 5, 2020

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Copyright 2020 KUNC

As KUNC’s reporter covering the Colorado River Basin, I dig into stories that show how water issues can both unite and divide communities throughout the Western U.S. I produce feature stories for KUNC and a network of public media stations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada.
I started my career in Cincinnati, Ohio where I was a traffic reporter by day and a volunteer public radio music host by night. Although I spent almost nine years in commercial radio, I have always had a passion for the creativity and intelligence of public broadcasting.
Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.