Nine members of Chaffee County Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) are currently quarantined after exposure to a Front Range-based EMS employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
Chaffee County EMS Director and paramedic Josh Hadley stated that on May 13, a full-time CCEMS employee was unable to work, and his shift was filled by a part-time paramedic from the Front Range area. CCEMS employs part-time staff that reside outside of the county, as there are not enough Chaffee County-based paramedics and critical care paramedics available to meet county-wide needs.
The Front Range-based paramedic reported for a 24-hour shift of work at 7 a.m. on May 13. The employee passed a pre-shift medical screening and remained asymptomatic for the duration of the shift through 7 a.m. on May 14.
On the night of May 14, Hadley stated, this paramedic began showing minor respiratory symptoms and notified CCEMS of this development and intent to be tested for COVID-19 on the Front Range. The paramedic received a positive COVID-19 result on May 16, after being tested by his primary Front Range employer.
Upon news of the results, CCEMS immediately placed all nine employees who were in direct contact with this paramedic on a strict 14-day quarantine from their first day of exposure.
During their time in Chaffee County, Hadley revealed the Front Range-based paramedic also came in direct contact with an HRRMC employee in a social setting outside of the hospital, without proper PPE. This HRRMC employee has been medically assessed by HRRMC’s employee health nurse, is being tested for COVID-19, and is quarantined. The affected employee has not come into any HRRMC facility or provided patient care since being exposed to the virus.
It is unknown if the paramedic was contagious at the time of working in Chaffee County. At this time, CCEMS and HRRMC are exercising an abundance of caution, following CDC guidelines, which state that a person should be considered potentially infectious in the 48-hours preceding symptom onset.