Health officials reported two "presumptive positive" cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Colorado on Thursday.

Because testing was conducted at the state level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would review the cases for official confirmation, Gov. Jared Polis said at a news conference. The process can take about 48 hours, he said.

The first case announced involves a man in his 30s who was an out-of-state visitor to Summit County, Polis said.

The man traveled to Italy in mid-February with a companion, who tested positive for COVID-19 in another state. On Feb. 29, the man traveled from Denver International Airport to Summit County in a rental car to meet friends at a condo, then went skiing to Keystone and Vail Mountain resort.

"When he arrived here he was healthy," Polis said.

The man's fiancée and two Colorado residents were part of the visit. The patient is under isolation; the fiancée is under voluntary quarantine; and the two Colorado residents under quarantine.

The man went to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco on March 3 presenting symptoms. Four workers at the hospital "took appropriate precaution and will be tested," Polis said.

The man is now recovering with his fiancée, where they face a period of isolation of 14-21 days.

"The patient was advised for his health to be transported to lower altitude," Polis said. "He was feeling well enough to travel in a private vehicle with his fiancée to Jefferson County wearing a mask."

Those who were in contact with the man on the flight shouldn't be concerned, Polis said, because he wasn't contagious at the time.

"You're generally noncontagious when you're asymptomatic," Polis said, flanked by a team of health experts. “That’s according to the latest information from the CDC.”

The second case involves an "elderly" woman in Douglas County, 80 miles north of Pueblo, the Department of Public Health and Environment announced late Thursday. Like the first case, the woman had also returned to Colorado from international travel, though the two cases don't seem to be linked, Polis said. The woman is isolated at her home. 

"The state is acting on all presumptive positive cases as if they were confirmed, because a quick response is essential to minimize the spread of the virus," said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the state and Department of Public Health and Environment.

Polis said this week's $8.3 billion emergency package from Congress has helped the state engage its emergency response plan. The bill awaits President Donald Trump's signature.

"Because we're testing more frequently, we're going to see cases more frequently," said Hunsaker Ryan.

Polis said the patient recovering in Jefferson County "requires no additional treatment at this moment."

"It's important to put this into context," Polis said. "At least 80% of coronavirus patients recover after self-treatment and have mild treatments with over-the-counter medications — but 20% or more of cases are more severe and might require additional treatment for dehydration or respiratory stress."

Those who were aboard the Denver flight with the male patient are at low risk, said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, a communicable disease epidemiologist for the state.

Two individuals would need "10 minutes in confined spaces in most cases," she said.

The department is working with local public health agencies to identify any contacts who may have been exposed to COVID-19, Hunsaker Ryan said. Public health practitioners would attempt to notify those people.

“Like other states, we expected to begin seeing cases in Colorado — and that is why we have been preparing for the past couple of months, in conjunction with local public health agencies and health care partners,” Hunsaker Ryan told reporters Thursday. "Our goals are to protect the public from the disease, get people the care they need, and minimize disruption to daily lives."

As of Thursday, Colorado reported 93 results negative tests for coronavirus, while 38 are pending, according data from the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

Polis said the state is also working to expand testing capacity in Colorado, which currently can handle 200-300 cases a day.

"Because we're testing more frequently, we're going to see cases more frequently," said Hunsaker Ryan.

Colorado isn’t ready to declare a state of emergency, Polis said, as at least three other states have.

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 12 on Thursday, with all but one of the victims in Washington state, and the number of infections swelled to over 200, scattered across 18 states, according to The Associated Press. Colorado and Nevada reported their first cases. Nine of the dead were from the same suburban Seattle nursing home, now under federal investigation.

Health officials advise Coloradans to take simple disease prevention measures, such as:

• Practice good hygiene. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. In the absence of soap and water, use hand-sanitizer.

• Use your elbow or sleeve to cover coughs and sneezes.

• Stay home if you’re sick; keep your children home if they are sick. The illness can last for many days, so make preparations now to work from home if possible.

• Be prepared for an emergency — like a large snowstorm — and have a plan for your family. Make sure to have 72 hours of key supplies on hand, such as medications, infant formula, diapers and pet food.

Coloradans who have general questions about coronavirus can call 1-877-462-2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org.

rlopez@chieftain.com

Twitter: @lopezricardojr