State health officials on Friday announced a person has died in Colorado from the new coronavirus, making it the first death amid the outbreak of the highly infectious disease.
The person who died, a woman in her 80s, lived in El Paso County. The woman had underlying health conditions, according to a news release.
“While we were expecting this day, it doesn’t make it any less difficult to hear and share this news. As a state we are in mourning and our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the Coloradan we lost,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.
There were 77 cases of COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, in Colorado as of Friday evening. Among those were eight people who were in the hospital, at least three of whom were in critical condition, state health officials said.
On Friday morning, the governor warned Coloradans of the grave toll the new coronavirus outbreak could have on the state, especially for those most at risk of complications.
While most cases of the new coronavirus are mild, health officials are concerned about those most at risk, including individuals over 60 and people with underlying health issues, such as heart, lung or kidney diseases or diabetes.
“We care deeply about our older Coloradans and people who have chronic diseases,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment, in a statement. “This is an all-hands-on-deck effort to slow the spread and support people during these trying times.”
In an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, major school districts are closing classrooms and the governor has ordered all public gatherings in Colorado with more than 250 people be canceled.
Local officials have also issued orders limiting gatherings of people to 50 in Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties.
The new coronavirus mainly spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and those who are within 6 feet of an infected person are most at risk. Symptoms include fever, coughing and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To protect against the new coronavirus, it’s recommended that people wash their hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds. Individuals should also avoid touching their face and use a tissue or elbow to cover their coughs and sneezes, according to the state health department.
So far, state health officials have confirmed community transmission of COVID-19 in the Denver metro area and Eagle County.
Community transmission occurs when a person tests positive for the coronavirus but health officials can’t find a source for their exposure, such as travel or contact with an infected person.
This content was originally published here.