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FARMINGTON – San Juan Regional Medical Center announced it has turned up one positive COVID-19 test among the samples taken in its external assessment area.

City spokesperson Georgette Allen announced the evening of March 21 that the infected individual is a city employee who was not at work when the virus' "contagious period" was active. The employee was not identified.

"The Farmington Fire Department today announces an employee has tested positive for COVID-19," Allen said in the release. "The individual is self-quarantining per New Mexico Department of Health guidelines. The public’s safety is the department’s top priority."

An investigation ensued after the positive test was processed.

"The department is happy to report, epidemiology found the employee was not at work during the contagious period," the release stated. "Per epidemiology’s investigation, no other employees were exposed, and no members of the public were exposed during this individual’s course of work. FFD will heighten surveillance of employees, keeping a close watch for symptoms."

Earlier that day hospital officials announced the test results, but with scant details.

“This positive test was collected on Wednesday, March 18 at our external assessment area, the test was from a local member of our community and is travel related,” the Farmington hospital announced March 21 in a release from Marketing Manager Roberta Rogers. 

“Here at San Juan Regional Medical Center, we are prepared – not panicked,” the release said.  “It is extra important that everyone be safe by continuing to follow the recommended CDC recommended guidelines for prevention.”

Rogers told the Daily Times that about 100 tests have been done so far, "but it's such a moving target. We focus on screening."

San Juan County Manager Mike Stark said officials knew this day would eventually come, and have been planning for it since January.

“We stand ready to handle more cases as they come,” he said, praising the collaborative efforts of first responders, governments and the health care community, among others, who worked to prepare for the virus’ appearance here.

That being said, Stark noted that every county citizen has a vital role to play in preventing the spread of the disease by “practicing all of the preventative measures.

The guidelines Stark noted were repeated by San Juan Regional Hospital Saturday. The hospital noted these guidelines will help curtail the spread of the virus if they are practiced:

• Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. 

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

• Stay home when you are sick. 

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

“The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to COVID-19,” the release stated. “Do not come to the Emergency Department if you are not sick.”

The hospital recommends people call their primary doctor “if you feel that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are unsure of what to do next. … If you don’t have a primary care provider, contact the State of New Mexico’s 24/7 hotline at 855.600.3453.”

As of 3 p.m. on March 21 no San Juan County case was not yet recorded on the State Department of Health’s website, https://cv.nmhealth.org/ That site listed 57 cases in New Mexico out of 4,779 tests conducted. By Sunday that number rose to 65.

San Juan Regional Medical Center’ website has a coronavirus page, www.sanjuanregional.com/coronavirus

For additional information go to the Centers for Disease Control’s website at www.cdc.gov

The New Mexico Department of Health’s website homepage is https://nmhealth.org/

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at jmoses@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e

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