La Plata County has its third reported outbreak of COVID-19 cases at a workplace, this time at a prominent oil and gas company.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed the outbreak this week at Crossfire LLC, a provider of oil and gas construction and infrastructure services throughout the San Juan Basin natural gas field.
CDPHE lists the outbreak as an active case.
A local representative with Crossfire said he was not authorized to comment about the situation and directed all inquiries to the company’s media line based in Texas. A call to the media line was not returned Friday morning.
Liane Jollon, executive director of San Juan Basin Public Health, said a Crossfire employee who started showing symptoms of the virus sought medical care and was tested for the novel coronavirus July 13.
The test results came back positive July 15.
Then, management at Crossfire directed all locally based employees who may have come in contact with the infected person, about 30 people, to be tested.
During this time, Jollon said one other employee started showing symptoms of the virus. That person’s test came back positive. Of the 30 or so people tested, two other employees who were asymptomatic tested positive.
In all, the outbreak was listed Tuesday as four lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. According to state guidelines, an “outbreak” is defined as two or more cases at a location in a 14-day period.
Jollon said those who tested positive are a mix of office staff members and field workers. She said it is possible the virus could spread further within the workplace, but the risk to the public is minimal.
SJBPH has since worked with Crossfire to go over its procedures to fine-tune where it can improve and implement measures to reduce the spread of the virus both for office workers and those out in the natural gas field.
“Workplaces could have sustained transmission if we’re not careful to break the chain of transmission,” Jollon said. “That’s why we watch workplaces carefully.”
Jollon said the health department suggested Crossfire increase deep cleaning and sanitation in the office as well as in vehicles used by field staff members. SJBPH also recommended increased vigilance for social distancing, and for employees to wear face coverings when that’s not possible.
Crossfire has also been directed to more closely watch if employees are showing symptoms of the virus, and if so, that they be told to stay home from work.
SJBPH remains in contact with Crossfire on a weekly basis to monitor whether more people get sick.
Jollon said it is unclear whether the outbreak at Crossfire was a result of employees spreading the virus within the workplace or if it was contracted by people separately outside work.
She added SJBPH staff members have made appropriate calls on contact tracing. She said members of the same household who may test positive in connection to the workplace outbreak are not included in the outbreak data.
Jollon said Crossfire directed people who potentially came in contact with the infected employees to self-quarantine.
Jollon did not immediately know the current condition of those who tested positive.
Outbreaks are considered active for about 28 days until health departments can ensure a resolution of cases.
La Plata County’s first outbreak was reported in early June at the construction site of the new hotel at 1111 Camino del Rio, where five workers contracted the virus. That outbreak has been considered resolved as of June 29.
The second outbreak was reported earlier this month at Tile Art of Durango after two employees tested positive for COVID-19. The state lists the case as active.