One person from Crowley County has died and tested presumptively positive as of Thursday morning, Crowley / Otero Health Departments Director Rick Ritter said in a written statement emailed to the Tribune-Democrat.

The patient was an elderly resident of Crowley County and had multiple chronic medical conditions, Ritter said. Ritter has said in public service announcements released over the last couple of weeks that a person matching the above description is considered at higher risk to the coronavirus that as of Wednesday reached 216 cases and two deaths, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"First and foremost, our sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of this individual.  We are sorry for their loss," said Ritter.

Local health department staff are investigating the case, including tracking down others who might have been exposed to the patient and quarantine procedures.

"I am committed to being transparent to the communities in Crowley and Otero Counties, so that is why I am releasing this before confirmatory testing, which could be many days away due to severe laboratory overload," Ritter said in the statement.

At the Otero Board of County Commissioners on Monday, Ritter explained that in trying to track the wide spread of a viral disease there is always a lag between confirmed numbers, because the stats are changing so rapidly and information can only be communicated so quickly.

"If you need to talk to someone from OCHD regarding this, we have a special line reserved," Ritter said. "Please call 719-383-3050 between the hours of 8am and 5pm, Monday-Friday.  If they are the phone, leave a message and they will return your call when they are able."