SIMLA, Colorado — An isolated ranch community on the highlands is where residents expect to bear the brunt of everything, especially a new, more infectious variant of the coronavirus. But on Wednesday, state health officials announced that the first known variant in the United States had been confirmed in a nursing home in Simla, Colorado.
The variant infected a National Guard soldier who was sent to help the Covid-19 outbreak in the Good Samaritan Association nursing home in the town. Emily Travanty, interim director of the National Public Health Laboratory, tested positive for the second soldier in the nursing home, and there may also be variants.
Simla is unlikely to appear in a variant of the virus that was only recently discovered in the UK. Most things that happen will not happen here. Trends come and go without notice. News is usually viewed from a distance. For generations, this grassy short grass prairie inhabited 6,000 feet about 80 miles (about 6,000 feet) southeast of Denver, and its formation was mainly caused by the eternal rhythm of raising cattle.
On Wednesday morning, after news of the virus outbreak in Simla, a resident was asked what happened to the town’s only paved street in the 29 years she lived. She looked west towards the tangled snow and dust of the lawn mower outside MT Small Engine Repair, and then to the east, a group of wild turkeys casually crossed the street in front of the empty Coach-Lite Motel, and then said: ” It’s okay.”
When the virus arrived in the United States at the beginning of this year, it was almost correct. Many of the approximately 600 residents of Simla continue to live, assuming that, like most things sweeping the country, the pandemic will bypass them.
“When the virus first broke out in the spring, it was in the calving season. We were too busy to attract enough attention,” said Don Bailey, a retired biology teacher who now raises Heian on a ranch outside the town. Gus cattle. “We check the herd five to six times a day. When you go out with cows, you don’t have to wear a mask.”
Summer has passed, there are almost no cases in the county, and community life has not changed much. The 4-H members showed off their sheep and cows at the county fair, and the school followed suit. The old friends still met for coffee every morning at Country Corner Cafe, Simla’s only breakfast spot.
The 71-year-old Bailey said: “We continued and cancelled the dinner with friends every Wednesday, but other than that, the situation remained basically the same.” Even if there was a pandemic, he still opened himself A one-person antique saddle museum built in an outbuilding in the expansion-although a trickle of tourists hardly violates most social distancing regulations.
Later this fall, when the second wave of infections swept through Colorado, and hit particularly severely around Simla and Elbert Counties, the town’s sense of isolation from global problems changed, bringing it into the state’s The “serious risk” threat level has been maintained to this day. Soon everyone in this close-knit community knew a sick person.
“I have a friend in the ICU now,” Cené Kurtchi, 71, runs a café with her husband Michael. “There are many people in town who are sick. They will say it’s just flu or bronchitis, but it’s 26 miles from the nearest place where the test can be done.”
The response to the virus is not only influenced by geography but also by politics. President Trump won 74% of the vote here in November. Signs of support for him appeared on almost every block. One on the fence of a quiet alley read: “Save freedom, vote trump card.”
In the pandemic where prevention has become political, many residents refuse to wear masks. On Wednesday, about a quarter of shoppers entering the Simla food store showed their faces, even though it is only half a block from the nursing home, where all patients have recently tested positive and the mutant virus surfaced.
Ms. Kurchi shook her head when she talked about the lack of masks. Some of her long-term neighbors have called for a boycott of the cafe because she and her husband requested to wear masks.
On Wednesday, TV news personnel gathered in front of an inconspicuous one-story nursing home. Cleaning staff in dangerous goods suits cautiously entered and exited through the back door, where strong cleaning supplies were scattered in the alleys.
The state sent a team to a nursing home on Tuesday to collect new specimens from residents and staff. Dr. Herlihy said that based on the samples tested so far, the variant does not appear to be circulating in the facility, but more samples will be tested on Wednesday.
Dr. Helich said that National Guard soldiers confirmed to have this variant are quarantining at their homes in Arapahoe County, a suburb of Denver, while people with suspected cases are quarantining in a hotel in the eastern town of Limon.
In a lonely handicraft shop in Simla, on a dirt road, the only visitors were six local cats lying down in the winter sun outside the front door, owner Carla Tracy Just talked to a friend who told her about the new variant and came to their town.
She said: “My goodness, this barren town, most people can’t even find it on the map.” “And we don’t think we will cause too much trouble with the virus. Then it hit us. It’s just Show you it’s everywhere.”