Coronavirus FAQ

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions & Updates

San Luis Valley Health – Providing trusted resources and answers to your questions! San Luis Valley Health (SLVH) remains committed to taking care of our community’s healthcare needs. The leaders at SLVH are preparing, planning and responding to a dynamic, changing, worldwide healthcare pandemic.

Status Update for the San Luis Valley

For updates on San Luis Valley Positive Patient Results by County, go to

Revised COVID-19 Testing Guidelines from CDPHE:

Sharing a press release from the Colorado State Health Department

State health department provides update on statewide COVID-19 testing strategy

DENVER, March 30, 2020: Testing for COVID-19 continues to be a top priority for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The Colorado Unified Coordination Group (UCG) is currently supporting strategic, targeted community testing for health care workers and first responders, and are working to increase the state’s testing capabilities.

There are two primary routes to testing in Colorado today:

  1. Hospital staff, hospitalized patients, and vulnerable, symptomatic patients receiving care at health care facilities can get tested at those facilities.
  2. Critical health care workers and first responders who have symptoms can get tested at community testing sites being run by local public health agencies in various communities.

“Right now, due to limited supplies of testing kits and personal protective equipment, testing needs to be focused on the people who are the most at-risk from this disease and the people in charge of caring for and keeping the rest of us safe. It’s important to protect the most critical element of the health care system. We are working hard to get the supplies and capacity to move to broader public testing, but until then our message remains the same: if you have only mild symptoms, self-isolate and don’t wait for a test,” said Scott Bookman, CDPHE COVID-19 Incident Commander.

The state has distributed 4200 testing kits and PPE to local public health agencies in El Paso, Larimer and Mesa Counties. The counties will use these supplies to test healthcare workers and first responders across their regions. The CDPHE lab also sent 300 testing kits to the Ute Mountain Ute tribe. More testing kits will be provided to local public health agencies once those supplies are received from FEMA.

Meanwhile, the UCG is working to develop plans that local public health agencies can use to conduct their own community testing sites when testing kits are more readily available.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is meant for single-use and is recommended by the CDC to be used for COVID-19 testing. In order to preserve these important resources for critical health care needs, CDPHE has recommended that health care providers prioritize testing according to these tiers:


  • Hospitalized patients
  • Health care workers with symptoms


  • Patients in long-term care facilities or other residential settings such as homeless shelters or correctional facilities with symptoms
  • Patients over age 65 with symptoms
  • Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms*
  • First responders with symptoms
  • Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms**
  • People with symptoms who work with vulnerable populations or in group residential settings


  • Other individuals with symptoms

CDPHE is urging the public to not wait for a test to self-isolate. People who are not at high risk of severe illness may not need to be evaluated in person or tested for COVID-19. Not everyone with symptoms will be tested right away. Call your healthcare provider if your illness becomes more severe, especially if you are experiencing shortness of breath. You can use telehealth or a nurseline to get medical guidance; find out more and access a list of telehealth and nurseline resources here:

If you have any symptoms -- even mild ones -- public health urges you to stay home and isolate yourself until:

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (without the use of medicine) AND
  • Other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) have improved AND
  • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
  • Anyone in your household you have had close contact with (within six feet for approximately 10 minutes) should self-quarantine for 14 days, even if you haven’t been tested for COVID-19.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call 911. If you have severe respiratory symptoms, especially shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tell the 911 dispatcher about your symptoms. Do not wait for a COVID-19 test to call 911.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting

*A list of people who are at higher risk of severe disease can be found at:; however, this list may not be complete.

**Critical infrastructure workers are those working in these sectors ( who have a unique role in their work that cannot easily be transferred to other workers.

Nurse call line

If you feel you have an emergency, please call 911. If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, please call our nurse line at (719) 589-2511 and press 9. Do not enter a healthcare facility without calling ahead. . A nurse will call you back between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day. If you reach the voicemail, please leave a clear name and good callback number. Do not leave more than one message. Please use isolation and social distancing to help prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease.

People who have general questions about COVID-19 can call CO HELP at 1-877-462-2911, which is available in both English and Spanish.

Testing or Swabbing

At this time, due to a limited amount of COVID-19 testing kits available and a slow turnaround time for results, tests will be prioritized as follows:

  • Hospitalized patients who receive an order from the attending provider; and
  • Medical staff, healthcare workers & first responders who have symptoms and have been screened by a nurse or provider.

Additional Note: While a positive test result would provide information and an explanation for symptoms, it does not change the course of treatment; regardless of a positive or negative result, patients will be encouraged to self-isolate if they are safely able to do so.

Elective, Routine and Well Visits Postponed

At this time, due to a limited amount of supplies, SLVH is prioritizing the way we deliver care. Our goal is to continue taking care of people who are ill. Starting March 18, all elective, routine, and well visits will be postponed through April 3, 2020. This is a fluid situation and the clinics and hospitals are not shutting their doors. Clinic staff are contacting patients and consulting with providers. Please understand that this is a temporary situation due to a supply chain issue and not due to a surge in COVID-19 patients.

Hospital Visitor Restrictions In Place

As of April 2, 2020, new visitor restrictions are in place in the hospitals per CDC guidelines. All visitors must check in at the front desk. Visiting hours will be limited to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. No visitors are allowed physically to visit a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19. Please ask for assistance.

No visitors are allowed except for the following conditions:

Emergency Room - 1 visitor for patients under the age of 21

Labor and Delivery - 1 visitor or birthing partner

Patients with Special Needs - 1 parent or adult caretaker

End of Life - 1 visitor

Family and friends will not be permitted to enter the facility or wait in the lobby or common areas.

Cafeteria at RMC and CCH Closed to the Public

The cafeterias at both the Regional Medical Center and Conejos County Hospital will be temporarily closed to the public. We appreciate the public’s cooperation with these new guidelines as we all work together toward keeping our community safe.

Does a fever up to 103 degrees help one fight the coronavirus disease?

A fever is the body's way of attempting to fight off infection. However, a very high fever can also be harmful and should be addressed. If fever reducing medications are not working a person should consult with a medical provider, and may call our triage line for additional guidance, (719) 589-2511, press 9, every day, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Please leave a message if after hours.

In the meantime, some additional things that can help reduce fever are increasing fluid intake (preferably clear liquids), remove warming clothes such as jackets, sweats, and blankets, use cool packs on the forehead, under the arms, and in the groin.

If you don’t have access to a thermometer, some indications of a fever would include: feeling/looking flushed, experiencing chills, shivering, being hot to the touch (when someone else touches a neutral area like the cheeks or forehead). Sometimes elderly people may also get confused, agitated, and disoriented.

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911.

The average normal body temperature is generally accepted as 98.6°F (37°C). Some studies have shown that the "normal" body temperature can have a wide range, from 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C). A temperature over 100.4°F (38°C) most often means you have a fever caused by an infection or illness.

Who should be wearing a protective facemask?

  • If you are coughing frequently, you should wear a mask to limit possible exposure to others;
  • Medical staff are following CDC guidelines when they need to wear masks so resources and supplies will be used appropriately; and
  • Healthcare workers who are testing, triaging, and treating patients who are ill will wear appropriate Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) according to CDC guidelines.

How can I protect myself? Is there a vaccine?

Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:

  • Avoid contact with sick people and stay home when you are ill.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol.
  • It is especially important to clean your hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to practice the prevention strategies described above and avoid being exposed. If you have not received the flu vaccine,it is not too late! Visit and scroll down for the answer about vaccines.

What should I do if I think I have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

  • If you feel you have symptoms, please call our nurse line at (719) 589-2511 and press 9.
  • The most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • The nurses and providers will probably make special arrangements if they suspect you have the coronavirus and want you to come in for testing or for a visit.
  • Click here for people who have or might have Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and their families or caregivers.

  • Going to the clinic or hospital without calling ahead could expose more people to the virus.

Who is at risk?

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has released these guidelines:

  • Any hospitalized person,

  • Any person who lives in a residential facility such as a nursing home,

  • Any healthcare worker, clinical laboratory worker, or first responder who has new onset of symptoms within 14 days of having direct contact with patients with signs/symptoms of respiratory illness or their clinical specimens,

  • Older adults (age ≥ 65 years),

  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive; medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease),

  • Any person who is a member of a group with multiple symptomatic individuals (clusters of respiratory illness outbreaks) that is being investigated by public health officials.

What constitutes having a fever?

Having a fever usually means that an adult body temperature has reached 100.4° F (38°C) or higher, but this can vary between people. An infection, such as the flu, is the most common cause of fever.

I am getting ready to go on a trip. What should I know about any sort of travel restrictions?

It's important to stay informed about travel restrictions. Call your airline ahead of your travel date. The CDC has a helpful web page.

How is coronavirus treated?

The best treatment is prevention! The more that patients and caregivers can do to prevent spreading the virus, the better. Treatment will vary, depending upon the patient's level of acuity. Washing hands for a minimum of 20 seconds and using alcohol-based rubs will help prevent the virus from spreading.

Can I get tested in the San Luis Valley anywhere? If so, what is the process and how long will it take for me to get the results?

The people being tested are those who are hospitalized or have severe manifestations of the disease. Currently, SLV Health is able to send specimens to the Colorado state lab for testing suspected cases.

Will wearing a mask help prevent me from getting the virus?

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected infection.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Jessica Garcia, RN, BSN, Infection Prevention Practitioner at SLV Health, contributed to an article for more information and addressed the question about using face masks.

Will SLV Health still be holding their health fairs this spring?

No. In an aim to keep our community members and employees health top of mind during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, SLV Health is sorry to announce that the health fairs normally hosted in Conejos and Rio Grande Counties have been canceled for this spring. For those who wish to access a blood draw, the Direct to Consumer labs at Conejos County Hospital and the Regional Medical Center allow for walk-in draws at similar pricing as the health fair pricing. No insurance will be charged and the consumer will receive the results directly. For hours, directions, forms and FAQS, please visit the website and click on Services, then Laboratory. For questions please call (719) 587-1226 or (719) 274-6021.

How Can I Find The Video To Sow A Mask?

Click Here to find a video with instructions how to sow a mask.

Further Resources – These links address current Coronavirus (COVID-19) facts.

American Hospital Association

Center for Disease Control

World Health Organization

Center for Disease Research and Policy

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