Coronavirus: Current risk is low for Colo. and N.M.

Photo Credit: SU Health Services

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and local public health are working together, following federal guidance, to assess travelers returning from China to determine the need for monitoring, quarantine, or other restriction of movement and activities.

Basic things you can do to protect yourself from this and other viruses include washing hands with soap and water and covering your mouth when you cough/sneeze.

While we understand that new viruses like this can be worrisome, Colorado and New Mexico have no cases and the risk of COVID-19 for both states are currently low. Risk is based on exposure. People at higher risk are:

  • People who have traveled to China within the last two weeks and have symptoms.
  • People who had direct close contact with someone who was confirmed to have the COVID-19.
  • Like any other virus, no identity, community, ethnic, or racial group is more at risk for getting or spreading COVID-19.

Not all coronaviruses are COVID-19. There are many kinds of common coronaviruses currently circulating in Colorado, New Mexico and the U.S. that cause respiratory illness. These coronaviruses are not COVID-19. There also are many other kinds of respiratory illnesses (such as colds and flu) circulating right now.

It is normal in situations like this to have cases under investigation, even when the risk is low and there have been no cases. That’s because health care providers are on the lookout for symptoms and members of the public have a heightened awareness.

  • Colorado’s Public Health Department has investigated several Colorado cases so far, all with travel history to China or close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. CDC testing has confirmed all those tests as negative for the coronavirus disease 2019.


While we understand that new viruses can be worrisome, the risk of coronavirus disease 2019 for Colorado and New Mexico is currently low. In order to contract the COVID-19 people must be exposed to another person who has it. Right now, Colorado and New Mexico have no cases and the number of cases in the U.S. is still small. However, it is cold and flu season right now and people are much more likely to encounter those viruses.

CDC estimates that to date, the current flu season in the U.S. (Oct. 1, 2019 – Feb. 1, 2020) has resulted in between 22 million – 31 million illnesses, between 210,000 – 370,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 30,000 deaths. CDC 2019-2020 Flu Season: Preliminary Burden Estimates

  • A typical flu season in Colorado and New Mexico will see thousands of hospitalized cases and sometimes several pediatric deaths.


Though Colorado and New Mexico have no cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and though the risk to most people is low, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe knows we need to be prepared.

We are working closely with the local Public Health Department to ensure our response is proactive, strong, and collaborative.


People who are worried about this, or any respiratory virus, like the flu, can protect themselves by practicing everyday actions:

  • Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Getting a flu shot if you haven’t gotten one this year.


Currently, CDC does not recommend the use of facemasks or respirators among the general public. While limited person-to-person spread of COVID-19 among close contacts has been detected, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States.

If you are not sick: Members of the general public in the United States DO NOT need to use facemasks. CDC does NOT recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

  • Masks should be reserved for people who are sick, so they can protect others from getting infected.

If you are sick: (i.e., people with confirmed or possible COVID-19 infection, including patients under investigation who do not need to be hospitalized; and people with confirmed COVID-19 infection who were hospitalized and determined to be medically stable to go home):

  • You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. This will help protect the people around you from getting infected.
  • Facemasks should be used once and then thrown away in the trash.
  • If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who are in the same room with you should wear a facemask, but they should also limit the amount of time they spend in the same room with you.

If worn properly, a facemask helps block the spread of respiratory viruses by the wearer from spreading to other people and surfaces.


The federal government has implemented quarantine procedures for travelers returning from China.

  • U.S. citizens returning from Hubei Province in the past 14 days will have a mandatory 14-day quarantine period at one of four designated military bases: Travis Air Force Base, Miramar, Lackland, and Omaha.
  • U.S. citizens returning from the rest of mainland China in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the country through one of 11 airports. At those airports, travelers will have a proactive entry health screening, followed by 14 days of monitored self-quarantine.
  • Foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled to China within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the U.S. at this time.
  • The CDC is working with state health departments to notify anyone who was sitting on a plane with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. If you are at risk, your local or state public health agency will contact you.

ALL travelers from China will be given CDC’s Travel Health Alert Notice, educating those travelers about what to do if they get sick with certain symptoms within 14 days after arriving in the United States.


The best way to stay up to date on what is happening in the U.S and to stay current on travel information is to visit CDC’s website:


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals including camels, cats, and bats.

Some coronaviruses are common and regularly cause Illness in the U.S. in the fall and winter. These viruses spread through coughing or sneezing, much like the flu. Symptoms may include fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath.

Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people, such as has been seen with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). These viruses have caused outbreaks internationally and have been known to cause severe illness.

COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person. It has been known to cause disease ranging from mild to severe, including disease resulting in death. Most cases of severe illness are still limited to mainland China.

If you have questions or are concerned with your current health status and/or symptoms, please contact your primary health care provider or the Southern Ute Health Center at 970-563-4581 to speak with a Health Care Professional.

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