Bent County Confirms Coronavirus Case In Nursing Care Facility

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UPDATE--Friday, May 22:

In an update on Friday, May 22, Bent County Public Health Executive Director Omer Tamir said the agency has concluded its investigation.

The individual at the care center tested positive on May 15, and upon a second test on May 18, tested negative.

All employees and residents were tested, including residents at the attached assisted living center, and all 141 tests came back negative.

While it is possible that original test was a false negative, Tamir writes that the patient could have been exposed while outside the facility in mid-April and could have been asymptomatic all along with "low shedding" of the virus.

Original Post--Mon., May 18: 

Bent County health officials are reporting their second known confirmed case of COVID-19. Until recently, Bent County was one of a few counties in the state with no known cases. 

The second case was identified as a 60 year-old resident of Bent County Healthcare Center, a nursing and long term care facility, who was asymptomatic but tested positive for the virus. The resident is being isolated for the time being to help prevent further spread. The first known case, announced about a week ago, is not connected to the center.

Executive Director of Bent County Public Health Omer Tamir said he feels confident in the department's ability to respond to cases in the county. 

"We're prepared locally to identify cases immediately, contact trace, isolate, quarantine, whatever is needed," said Tamir. "You know how it's been with COVID for everyone, it's day by day, hour by hour, you look at the data and what's going on and you respond accordingly."

Testing at the facility began Monday, and Tamir said by Wednesday all residents and employees will have been tested. In addition, he said he hopes by Wednesday the department "will have results for every single person and work on results from there."

He said the department had some testing kits on hand, but received 50 testing kits from partners in Otero County, along with support from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The county health department is still investigating the source of the exposure, said Tamir, and test results from the facility will help reveal more information.

"Really the goal here by us locally--it wasn't to make sure nobody ever gets this, you know that's fighting a losing battle. The goal was to give local public health agencies, the hospitals, everyone, a chance to prepare so as to slow it down."

Tamir said he expects cases to increase in the county in the coming months as restrictions ease around the state.