County reports one death related to COVID-19

“We will get through this…”

by Mark Reaman

While numbers of coronavirus cases continue to rise in Gunnison County, the county is reporting that there is at least one early indication that public health orders are having a positive impact.

On the Tuesday morning update, the county reported, “We are beginning to see symptom start-date taper off. This coincides with the strict Public Health Orders. We applaud you as a community for self-isolating and slowing the spread of this virus.”

Initial numbers indicate most people self-reporting symptoms say their symptoms were first noticed in mid-March. As March has gone on, fewer people noticed new symptoms after about March 20. “While we are on the right trajectory, we must continue to adhere to the Public Health Orders,” the report stated.

Gunnison County Public Health Director Joni Reynolds emphasized that the numbers only are positive if the community continues to be serious about stopping the spread of the virus. “We have to remain vigilant.  Our community remains at risk as we are continuing to see critically ill patients at our hospital and across our State and Nation,” she said. “The virus is silent and easily transmitted. Collectively our valley can keep this virus from spreading across our communities.” 

The Gunnison County Department of Health and Human Services on Monday confirmed that a Crested Butte man died in connection to the coronavirus two weeks ago. Members of his family confirmed over social media that the male in his 50s was longtime local Mike Larson.

Gunnison County coroner Michael Barnes said the official cause of death was “complications of COVID-19.”

Larson was tested for COVID-19 postmortem. The test result came back positive nine days later on Monday, March 23.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and entire community,” said Reynolds. “Gunnison County has recruited a talented and tireless team to help inform and treat the public during this global pandemic, and we’re working nonstop to prevent another death in our community related to COVID-19.

“We recognize these are trying times,” Reynolds continued in a press release. “However, in a region known somewhat for its collective grit, I am confident—with the full cooperation of the Gunnison Valley community—that we will one day get through this crisis.”

As of Wednesday, Gunnison County was reporting 52 official positive cases, 57 negative cases with 68 tests still pending. Nearly 500 people in the county have self-reported being symptomatic of COVID-19. Eight people were hospitalized in Gunnison Wednesday morning and seven had respiratory symptoms. Three patients were moved Wednesday afternoon to hospitals with ICU capability.

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