COVID19 outbreak impacts young and old in Kremmling

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by Marissa Lorenz
On Wednesday, September 30, Grand County Public Health (GCPH) and Middle Park Health (MPH) put out a joint press release announcing multiple confirmed cases of COVID19 among residents and staff of the Cliffview Assisted Living Facility in Kremmling.

They reported nine confirmed cases with a number of tests still being processed.

Cliffview is owned by the Grand County Housing Authority and managed by Middle Park Health. Deb Plemmons, MPH Chief Nursing Officer, reports that there are currently 24 residents and 18 staff. The number of vendors on-site varies from week to week, and both visitors and vendors are “restricted per COVID regulation and are allowed only by appointment.”

According to the mandated COVID19 prevention and response plan submitted by Plemmons to the State on April 27, visitors have not been permitted at the facility since the start of Colorado’s Stay-at-Home orders in March. Exceptions could be granted on a case-by case basis in end-of-life situations or in case of surgical procedures.

Other now-standard precautions are also outlined in the submitted suppression plan, including required personal protection equipment -such as masks, gloves, and gowns–social distancing rules, reduced group activities, and screening procedures, including screening residents three times a day and staff before and after each shift.

Isolation procedures are detailed, in the case of disease outbreak, and require symptomatic residents to be isolated within their private rooms for a minimum of 10 days in case of a positive COVID19 diagnosis and until the patient is fever-free for 72 hours without the help of fever-reducing medications. Sick staff are not permitted to return to work for at least seven days and until they are also 72 hours fever-free.

All COVID19 testing for those impacted by the current Cliffview outbreak was done by Middle Park Health, but the batch was processed by the Colorado state lab. While MPH purchased full lab equipment and reagent to facilitate rapid-response COVID-19 and other respiratory testing in-county, they are time-limited on the number of tests that can be processed at one time. Tiffany Freitag, MPH Director of Community Relations, notes that, as state turnaround times have been drastically reduced, the hospital is occasionally sending tests out for processing.

Grand County Public Health called the outbreak a “potentially devastating circumstance,” explaining that an “outbreak” is two or more confirmed COVID19 cases within a 14-day period and at a single facility or non-household location. Outbreaks are reported to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Grand County Public Health indicated that they have “begun the case investigation process and will be in contact with anyone identified as a close contact with positive.” GCPH, MPH and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will continue to monitor the outbreak, identify needs, and provide support as rapidly and sensitively as possible.

“Public Health has prepared for the possibility of an outbreak happening in congregate care settings, and we have provided clear guidance for facilities in responding and controlling the spread of illness,” said Grand County Public Health Director Brene Belew-LaDue. “We are working closely with the facilities now to care for residents and staff.”

And Middle Park Health assured, “We are taking action to ensure the safety of our team members, community and residents and prevent the spread of the virus.”

Cliffview outbreak sends high school students and staff home
Just hours later, the West Grand School District and Superintendent Dr. Darrin Peppard announced that school leadership had been “notified of positive COVID-19 cases in the Kremmling community which are impacting both of our schools,” and that “due to a probable case at West Grand High School, WGHS will be moving to online learning beginning on Thursday, October 1 until we are notified of the test results.”

A prepared statement said that the District’s leadership team “worked closely with Grand County Public Health and followed the CDPHE algorithms on cohort quarantine guidance.”

It explained that, if the test result is negative, students and teachers will return to in-person learning on the following school day. If the result is positive, the entire high school cohort will remain out of school, returning to in-person learning on Thursday, October 15. Students with close contact to the individual, as identified by West Grand Schools and Grand County Public Health, will be required to quarantine during that time.

Peppard assured that West Grand K8, Kremmling Preschool, and the WG Early Childhood Center will continue with in-person learning, as there are no potential cases affecting students or staff in those facilities at this time.