2 people test positive for coronavirus in Colorado

DENVER (AP) — Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday that two people have tested positive for coronovirus in Colorado, marking the state’s first cases in the global outbreak.

The governor announced both cases during a news conference. The first is a man in his 30s who was visiting from out of state when he checked into a hospital in Frisco, where many of Colorado’s ski resorts are located, because of a possible respiratory illness.

Polis said he did not have any details about the second case but that the two aren’t connected.

“Coloradans get sick every day, and I don’t want anyone to panic over this,” Polis said. “We have been preparing for this moment.”

The man in the first case had traveled to Italy the month before but did not show any symptoms when he flew to Colorado on Feb. 29, Polis said. The man’s traveling companion in Italy also tested positive for the virus in another state.

The outbreak that began in China also has hit hard in Italy, where there have been 148 deaths caused by the COVID-19 virus as of Thursday.

In Colorado, the man stayed in a condominium with his fiancee and two friends, Polis said. All three have been quarantined.

Four workers who cared for the man at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco were being monitored, said Peter Banko, president and CEO of Centura Health.

Health officials don’t believe that he exposed any other travelers, Polis said. Summit County and state health officials were investigating to see if anyone else was in close contact with the man.

He’s recovering in isolation in Jefferson County outside of Denver and is feeling well, the governor said. He will likely be in isolation for two to three weeks.

The number of U.S. cases has grown rapidly as more labs started testing and guidelines for eligibility were expanded. There are now more than 200 cases across 17 states, with 12 U.S. deaths.

Colorado was relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct tests, but the state health department says it can now test up to 160 samples a day at its laboratory with results expected within 24 hours.

The state also is testing specimens from patients who have symptoms and have either been in contact with someone else confirmed to have the virus or have traveled to parts of the world where infection rates are high.

“The more we can test, the quicker we can identify, the higher the likelihood of successful containment is. It’s really that simple,” Polis said.