by Mark Craddock
WALSENBURG — The Las Animas-Huerfano Counties District Health Department has contacted and quarantined dozens of participants of two softball games last week at Walsenburg’s Fiesta Park, after one of the participants was found to have tested positive for COVID-19.
The person who tested positive has been put into isolation.
According to an August 1 press release, the local health department learned that the person played in softball games on Tuesday, July 28, and Thursday, July 30, during women’s league action at the park.
“All persons who have been exposed to the person who tested positive for COVID-19 during the two softball games have been notified and are on a 14-day quarantine,” the release says. “Individuals should monitor for symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If they do not develop symptoms within 14 days of these dates, there is nothing to be done. Those that develop symptoms within 14 days of these dates should contact their doctor and consider COVID-19 testing.”
The news prompted a quick closure of Walsenburg Wild Waters Park over the weekend, because one of the staff members had participated in the softball game. According to a July 31 post on the Wild Waters Park Facebook page:
“I was just informed late this evening that one of my employees was exposed to an individual who had recently tested positive for COVID-19. They have been ordered to quarantine for 14 days. As a precaution, we will not be open this Saturday, August 1st or Sunday, August 2nd, due to the fact we, as in myself and other staff, were then exposed to this employee today; Friday July 31st. We are taking this precaution because I would like to seek more guidance from the health department when they open on Monday regarding information about staying open moving forward. Please understand the serious nature of this matter.
Update: This employee expressed to me they were exposed at the most recent softball games in Huerfano county at Fiesta Park on July 30th. Please continue to take care of yourselves in these challenging times as we work towards getting back to normal.”
The following day, the park got the all-clear, but remained closed due to unrelated problems:
“Good news regarding last nights post: After hearing from the director of health, only the employee who was exposed is to be quarantined. I wanted to be extra cautious regarding this matter. With that being said, we got the ok to remain open. Now, unfortunately, we will not be able to open up until a later date due to a mechanical malfunction discovered today. I will inform you of a re-opening date when I have a better idea. Thank you.”
On Tuesday night, the Walsenburg City Council voted 4-2 to close the pool for the rest of the season.
According to Jerad Lessar, volunteer coordinator of Huerfano rec. sports, the woman who tested positive competes on a local team, but lives in Pueblo.
He said she believes she contracted the virus from a coworker.
In all, Lessar said, about 30-35 people were quarantined, with participants living “anywhere from from Trinidad to La Veta to Walsenburg to Pueblo.”
Lessar said he has put league play on hold for the next two weeks, at which time he will decide how to proceed.
“The health department put everybody on a 14-day quarantine, so I shut the league down for the next two weeks,” he said.
“I wanted to see if anything comes out of this before I decided to finish the league up or cancel the season altogether.”
He said the league has taken steps to keep things COVID-19 safe, and the participants have largely complied.
“For anybody in close quarters, such as dugouts, we ask them to wear masks and we provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray in each dugout,” Lessar said. “Actually, the players have responded well in terms of keeping their distance and not fighting.”
The same has largely been true with spectators, he said.
“Pretty much everybody has been pretty good at staying by their vehicles,” he said. “In the stands, they have stayed spread out. I think people are pretty self-conscious at this point.”
County Administrator John Galusha said Monday that Fiesta Park belongs to Huerfano County, but the activities there are led by volunteers.
“The county allows volunteers to run the adult softball program,” he wrote in an e-mail.”There is no paperwork, no contract, nor agreement for the activity. And the county doesn’t charge for the use of the field.”
Lessar said he suggested this week to county officials that they might consider suspending all activity at the softball fields for now.
“We ought to get this locked up and not even let people practice,” he said.