As I write to you, a look at where we stand: 

Local COVID-19 infections continue to rise. In fact, San Miguel Public Health received more positive test results in November, than the previous 8 preceding months of the pandemic combined. 

Contact tracing efforts reveal that locally, on average, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 report twenty Close Contacts.

A Close Contact, as defined by CDC, is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person, for at least 15 minutes, starting two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic clients, two days prior to positive specimen collection).


The number of people you see without a mask, within 6ft, should be ten or less.

Yes, ten!

My advice: Live like you’re going to have to have to Contact Trace.

Why keep your ‘Close Contacts’ to ten or less?

Our present local caseload reveals that much of our community spread could have been avoided by following the Five Commitments: Stay home; wear a mask; social distance; avoid groups; wash hands often!

Living in a community comes with a responsibility to that community.

Here’s where things get serious: When we have patients who require a higher level of care, we transfer them to regional partner hospitals, who are now at, or near, capacity, and ICU beds are scarce. This means access to care for both COVID and other medical conditions will be increasingly difficult to obtain. 

Many hospitals around the state are ‘on divert,’ meaning that they are not accepting additional patients. When this happens we may need to transfer patients out of state or across the state. These transfers often involve an aircraft, which is expensive and limited in availability, (to say the very least).

Another reason to keep your contacts to ten or less: Testing at the Medical Center is maxed out — which means we have more people requesting tests per day than we can handle.

Public Health is offering free testing. Get more Info on times and locations here.

And while we are starting to see the ripple effects from the Thanksgiving holiday, with cases still rising, the hazard on the highway is this: A Level Purple stay-at-home order will be put in place if hospital capacity is compromised. [Read San Miguel County Public Health statement here].

We can—must!— call upon ourselves to decrease the local spread prior to the major tourism influx.

Here’s how we can do that: 

  • Continue to limit unnecessary contact with others, and practice physical distancing.

  • Limit travel to when it’s only absolutely necessary and self-isolation after travel should be observed.

  • Stay home when you’re sick and get tested! If you’re sick or a Close Contact of someone who has COVID-19, act like you have the virus, and call your provider to be evaluated. You will need to quarantine, more on how to quarantine here. Start preparing your list of Close Contacts based on the definition above.

  • It’s a dead horse, but please, wear a mask! 

    There is recent evidence that regions that had compliant mask wearing not only had less cases, but had less severe cases than comparable areas that did not wear masks. The viral inoculum, or amount of virus you’re infected with, can also contribute to the severity of your illness.  

  • Talk with your teens!

    Dr. Paul Koelliker shares, “I have a teenage son, I know firsthand how difficult it is to police and control his decisions and actions. I have found success, however, in taking the time to talk to our son to let him know what is at stake (going to school in person, skiing, the health of the community, especially those who are high-risk for COVID complications). As parents, we can help them make responsible and informed decisions.”

  • Live like you’re going to have to participate in contact tracing efforts, which is to say, if you find yourself with a positive test result and asked by Public Health to disclose all the people you’ve been within 6’ of without a mask, you’ll want that list to be no greater than 10 people.

The story of how you helped others when the pandemic hit its zenith is still being written. Make it a good story. Stay safe and follow the Five Commitments! Stay home; wear a mask; social distance; avoid groups; wash hands often!


Sharon Grundy | MD
Telluride Medical Center