Coronavirus: Questions and answers regarding COVID-19

Photo Credit: SU Health Services

What is the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19)?

The COVID-19 is a novel or new coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The COVID-19 causes mild to severe respiratory illness, such as the common cold or pneumonia, that can spread from person-to-person contact.

This virus affects older adults and those with pre-existing health conditions and immune-compromised populations (conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease). According to the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases, “there is evidence that the novel coronavirus can be spread before an individual develops symptoms.”

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 will exhibit mild to severe respiratory illnesses, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.  It is important that you seek medical advice if you develop symptoms.

What are the complications from COVID-19?

Complications of the virus include pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure, and in some cases death.

How does the virus spread?

The virus is spreading from person-to-person, those who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or their eyes.  The virus is also spread through exposure from travel to an affected area or close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

More information can be obtained about the COVID-19 virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases website at

What is community spread?

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

How can you protect yourself and your family?

Remain calm and prepared. A proactive approach to protecting your family includes social distancing. Social distancing is the guidance provided by the Colorado State Health Department to reduce the likelihood and or sustaining low numbers of community members passing the virus to one another. Guidance includes: increasing distance between people (6 feet) to help isolate the virus, consider whether you want to take a trip to attend a public gathering, discouraging children and teens from gathering in other public places in the event schools become closed, and refraining from shaking hands with others.

Everyone’s daily preventive behavior is essential to lowering the outbreak within the community especially for those who will experience severe illness. According to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment current travel recommendations are as follows: a) if you are sick, avoid traveling b) if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 avoid non-essential travel on airplanes and cruise ships (older adults and people with chronic medical conditions) and c) Follow CDC recommendations on travel to areas where there is widespread transmission of COVID-19 at:

What are we doing for Tribal Elders?

Tribal Elders are the heart of our community, and we want to ensure that we are addressing their needs.  The Incident Management Team plans to make contact with all Southern Ute tribal elders to guarantee that basic needs are being addressed.  The 55 and over population are considered to be high-risk, and we need to limit exposure.  We understand this older population have important and life-threatening needs, as the Tribe adapts to this outbreak, the team has been delegated at reducing the risks and concerns of the older population.

Tribal Council would like to encourage the tribal membership and community to check on the tribal elders. Tribal Elders should call the Southern Ute COVID-19 Call Center at 970.563.0214. Calls regarding medical concerns should use extensions 2651 and 2654; calls with general questions or concerns should use extensions 2652 and 2667. The Call Center will go live Thursday, March 19, 2020, hours will be from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., 7 days a week. In addition to fielding calls, the Call Center will be making proactive calls to Tribal Elders, the disabled, and high-risk tribal membership.

Washing your hands is important.

There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home when you are sick, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces daily. High-touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions.

Patients confirmed with COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.

What Happens if I believe I may have COVID-19?

  • If you begin to exhibit the symptoms of COVID-19, it is important that you seek medical advice and if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19. Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (such as a difficulty breathing). BEFORE seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility. This is important to keep other patients in your doctor’s office or healthcare facility from also becoming infected.
  • All suspected COVID-19 patients will be evaluated in the parking lot behind the Southern Ute Health Center as currently required.
  • There is a white tent located behind the Southern Ute Health Center. All patients who exhibit the COVID-19 symptoms will be seen in the tent behind the health center to prevent other patients from possibly contracting the virus.
  • The Southern Ute Health Center is taking the utmost caution when seeing patients to prevent a community spread. This tent was erected to observe, diagnose, and treat the patients who have potentially contracted the virus.
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