For immediate release:

On Friday, a clinical staff member at the Telluride Regional Medical Center tested positive for Covid-19.

The staff member, who is vaccinated, has no symptoms and is isolated at home. Officials from the San Miguel County Department of Public Health are notifying close contacts including patients potentially exposed between Wednesday, September 1 and Friday, September 3.

Close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as anyone who was within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more within two days prior to illness onset, regardless of whether the contact was wearing a mask.

Given the strict mask policy for staff and patients, and vaccination policy for medical center staff, risk of transmission to both patients and employees is considered very low, according to health officials.

It is believed the staff member was infected through community transmission.

Five staff members are among the close contacts, each of whom are vaccinated. Per CDC guidelines, those contacts will be tested 3-5 days after their exposure.

“We have no reason to believe patients or staff at large at the medical center are at any additional significant risk of infection, and therefore, at this time no action is necessary or recommended outside of compliance to best practices,” said San Miguel County Public Health Director, Grace Franklin.

“Throughout the pandemic our clinic has maintained a strict level of Covid-19 protocols to protect staff and patients. The fact it has taken 18 months before we’ve had a staff case requiring contact tracing involving patients is a testament to our safety and diligence,” said Dr. Mahoney, director of primary care.

“We have great confidence in our Covid-19 safety protocols and will continue to evaluate if any further measures are necessary.”

Standard protocol for Covid-19 positive staff includes a 10 day isolation before returning to work. The medical center will release the results of their staff testing as necessary, in the interest of public health.

“Let this stand as a reminder, this virus is sneaky; vaccinated individuals are more likely to have minor or no symptoms of a breakthrough infection; and COVID-19 is very much present in our community,” said Dr. Mahoney.

“We must all be vigilant. Wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Period,” said Dr. Diana Koelliker, director of the emergency and trauma services.

Any community members experiencing COVID-19 symptoms — fever, cough, congestion, shortness of breath, malaise, headache or diarrhea — should be tested. For the latest local testing locations and resources, visit the San Miguel County Department of Public Health site here.