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2 top health officials were exposed to COVID-19 – it's unknown if they are the only ones

The head of Colorado's public health department and a COVID-19 incident manager were both exposed, but the department won't say if others were, citing privacy laws.
Credit: KUSA
Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Two top officials directing the state’s COVID-19 response were exposed to the disease and had to go into self-isolation – but no one will disclose who else at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) either came in contact with an infected person or became ill.

It appears neither got sick.

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of CDPHE, and Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident manager, both acknowledged being exposed to the disease in interviews with 9NEWS.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Bookman refused to disclose who else had been.

“We’re not releasing individual information on who was exposed,” Bookman said in response to a question from 9Wants to Know. “A number of us were – I myself was and have been in quarantine for some time now.

“But we’re not releasing specific information on how many and who.”

In an answer to a follow-up question, the department issued a statement about the secrecy it has maintained about others who were either exposed or got sick: “COVID-19 testing and quarantine status is personal, protected health information so we will not share this publicly. An individual may choose whether or not they would like to disclose their self-quarantine or COVID-19 status with the public.”

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In an interview on another subject, Bookman said on Monday he had five days to go in quarantine at home but looked forward to returning to the state’s emergency operations center next week.

Ryan, who lives in Eagle County, said earlier this month that she decided that her family should self-isolate on March 20 after an outbreak of the disease in the central mountains.

“I was just determined not to get it and that’s why I went to the grocery store and told the family we’re staying in for 14 days,” Ryan said.

The following week, her husband became ill – and she and her son also began experiencing symptoms.

Her husband tested positive for COVID-19; she and her son tested negative.

“I think it’s a good lesson that really anyone can get this,” she said.

Contact 9Wants to Know investigator Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: kevin.vaughan@9news.com or 303-871-1862.

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