During an afternoon press conference today, March 6, Bob McDonald, the executive director of the Denver Department of Public and Environment, was asked whether people should change their weekend plans or rethink going to the Nuggets game on Monday. And what about Oprah Winfrey at the Pepsi Center?
"No. No, they shouldn't," McDonald responded. "People don't need to start staying at home."
McDonald and other health officials encouraged people to remain calm following the news that two Denver residents had tested positive for the coronavirus, or COVID-19, as it's formally known. Those test results are awaiting confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which should have final answers at the beginning of next week.
Both of the people are currently in isolation at home. They'll need two negative tests spread out over the course of 24 hours before being allowed back out into the public.
One of the individuals had been on a cruise ship, while the other had been visiting Vancouver.
So far, eight people in Colorado have tested positive for the coronavirus. There have been over 100,000 confirmed cases of the illness, which often leads to flu-like symptoms, and 3,500 deaths worldwide.
McDonald added that older individuals who fall into a heightened risk category for contracting serious cases of the coronavirus shouldn't feel scared to leave home. "There's no reason for people to cancel their trips or to refrain from being out in the community this weekend," he reiterated.
Denver health officials were reluctant to give out detailed demographic information on the two people who've tested positive, but state health officials have confirmed that one is a woman in her seventies, while the other is a man in his forties. The man is the parent of a child at St. Anne's Episcopal School, which closed early on March 6 because of concerns about coronavirus.
The school made the closure decision on its own.
"It was not something that we would have done," McDonald said. "And looking back on that situation, it's still not something that we would have done."
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In addition to the two people who tested positive, as well as the man's immediate family, seven other people are under quarantine in Denver because of possible exposure or travel history. And we can expect more cases in Denver, according to McDonald.
"I think we will see more cases eventually. We're prepared to manage it," McDonald said. "We always prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
But people are advised to do more than hope: They should wash their hands often, especially before eating or touching their mouth or eyes, health officials say.
As for those who don't have immediate access to sinks, McDonald says: "We're pushing out a great deal of information to our homeless population, making sure that they know where available public hand sinks are."