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This scanning electron microscope image shows particles of the virus SARS-CoV-2 emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name of the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the United States. (Provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases's Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana)

There are now at least eight people in Colorado who have tested positive for COVID-19, known colloquially as the coronavirus, after a batch of new diagnoses were announced on Friday.

Of the six total cases revealed by public health officials on Friday, two of them are in Denver, two more are in Douglas County and a fifth is in El Paso County. The sixth is a woman in her 50s in Eagle County who was likely exposed during international travel.

“The increase in positive tests is not unexpected, and based on the experience of other states, the public health and health care systems have been preparing for additional cases,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, who leads the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Denver patients are people who recently traveled outside of the country and are symptomatic. The two are isolated, but do not currently require hospitalization. Their cases are not related to each other.

“These individuals are considered ‘presumptive positive’ until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm the cases,” the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment said in a news release. “Additionally, several individuals have been quarantined or will be quarantined soon. These individuals are not symptomatic.”

MORE: Here are 5 answers about Colorado’s response to coronavirus. We want to hear what other questions you have.

The Douglas County cases, which also are unrelated to each other or to any other Colorado case, include a woman in her 40s who recently returned from a trip to Italy and a middle school student who traveled to the Philippines.

The El Paso County case is a man in his 40s who recently traveled to California. He is isolated at home and is in stable condition. His case is not related to any other Colorado case, either.

“We hope he is able to make a full and quick recovery,” said Susan Wheelan, who leads El Paso County Public Health. “Protecting the health of our community is our top priority, and we are doing everything possible to make sure the public is safe.”  

The Denver cases

Denver health officials said the city’s two cases were confirmed after their tests came back positive on Friday. Both had recently traveled internationally, one of them on a cruise and the other to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment played down the risk to others.

“There was some close contacts that were monitoring,” said Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment. “But we are not concerned at this time about being infectious and in contact with large amounts of people.”

A total of seven other people are in quarantine, several of them related to the positive Denver cases.

While McDonald urged the public not to change their plans or panic, he admitted that he thinks “we will see more cases eventually.” He also said the city is preparing if space for a mass of patients is needed.

Also on Friday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said that St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Denver had closed because of potential coronavirus exposure. Denver public health officials said one of the city’s two confirmed coronavirus patients is a parent of a student at the school, but that they didn’t have anything to do with the school’s decision to shut down.

The student is in quarantine as a precaution.

“We respect an individual school or district’s need to make decisions about school closures and postponement of activities in collaboration with their local public health agencies,” CDPHE said in a written statement. “The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide assistance to local public health agencies in making these decisions, and local agencies help the schools.” 

MORE: Colorado’s other pandemic: The 1918 flu and the lessons learned — or maybe not — for coronavirus

The Douglas, El Paso and Eagle county cases

The newly diagnosed people in Douglas County are in isolation. One is in Highlands Ranch and the other is in Castle Rock.

“Both of these new cases are from known international exposure, have mild illnesses and are isolated at home, not in a hospital,” said John M. Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health Department. “There is no indication of additional community exposure at this time. Tri-County Health Department staff is monitoring the people who may have been exposed.”

Further information on the cases were not relased.

In the El Paso County case, officials say the man self isolated when he became ill and notified his health care providers before visiting them to seek care.

He is in isolation with close family members in quarantine as a precaution.

“We will contact anyone of concern,” said Wheelan, who leads El Paso County Public Health.

The Eagle County patient is visiting the area and officials says he was “likely exposed during international travel.”

“The patient was not hospitalized and is recovering in isolation. The patient is working with public health officials in the ongoing investigation to identify people that may have had close exposure,” Eagle County Public Health and Environment said in a news release.

New cases come after first wave Thursday

The news of the six new patients on Friday comes after the state announced on Thursday that it had identified Colorado’s first two presumptive cases of the coronavirus. They are considered presumptive because they haven’t been confirmed by the CDC, which takes about two days.

This is a transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient. SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The image was captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

The first patient is a California man who was visiting Summit County after traveling to Italy with a companion who was later diagnosed with the disease. He is in isolation in Jefferson County.

The second was an elderly Douglas County woman who recently traveled internationally. She, too, is in isolation.

The first and second cases are not thought to be related to each other or to any other identified Colorado case. However, several people are in quarantine related to those initial patients.

Gov. Jared Polis has not declared a state of emergency, but he has said he won’t hesitate to use his emergency powers should he deem them necessary. That could include ordering quarantines, banning public gatherings and suspending state rules.

More than 100,000 people have been infected with coronavirus globally. Nearly 3,500 have died.

There are 260 cases in the U.S. and at least 15 people have died.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....