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Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

COVID-19 Rates Still High In Roaring Fork Valley, And Don’t Yet Include New Cases From Thanksgiving

Coronavirus rates appear to have slightly slowed their breakneck rise in all three Roaring Fork Valley counties, but local health experts say it may only be a momentary blip amid virus levels that are still worse than any other phase of the pandemic. Pitkin County epidemiologist Josh Vance said some of that slowing can be attributed to decreased testing on Thanksgiving day. “I think it gave some communities a false sense that we were actually seeing a plateauing when really it was a facade,”...

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Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET

U.S. employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month, as the coronavirus pandemic put new pressure on restaurants, retailers and other businesses.

The Labor Department said Friday employers added just 245,000 jobs in November, down from a revised 610,000 in October.

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Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Karen Koenemann, Pitkin County public health director, will spend her last day in the position on Friday, Dec. 4. She has held the position since the department's inception in early 2017. Koenemann spoke with Aspen Public Radio about the ups and downs of guiding the department through the pandemic. 

What has been the greatest challenge of your time here? What has been the hardest obstacle to overcome?

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Coronavirus rates appear to have slightly slowed their breakneck rise in all three Roaring Fork Valley counties, but local health experts say it may only be a momentary blip amid virus levels that are still worse than any other phase of the pandemic.

Pitkin County epidemiologist Josh Vance said some of that slowing can be attributed to decreased testing on Thanksgiving day.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado’s election results will be official within a week at the most without the controversies surrounding lawsuits and certification seen in other states.

All but one of the state’s 63 counties certified their election results last week. Gunnison County experienced a delay after elections officials contracted COVID-19 and expects to certify results this week.

Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center

When the pandemic shut down ski resorts across the state in mid-March, an influx of skiers and snowboarders descended on Colorado’s backcountry. The makeup of those users is now coming to light, thanks to a new study released by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

Who better to promote a product than a former president? How about three?

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are willing to lend their star power for a good cause, saying this week that they would publicly take a coronavirus vaccine, once it's available in the U.S., to encourage skeptical Americans to do the same.

Obama said that if Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, thought the vaccine was safe and effective, then he would get his shot.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidelines for people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Now, instead of the standard 14-day quarantine it has been recommending, the CDC says that potential exposure warrants a quarantine of 10 or seven days, depending on one's test results and symptoms.

If individuals do not develop symptoms, they need only quarantine for 10 days; if they test negative, that period can be reduced to just one week.

Despite a drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases across the Mountain West last week, public health officials are warning folks not to breathe a sigh of relief.

"Here [in Utah] a lot of the facilities that were doing testing were closed completely on Thanksgiving," said Utah Department of Health spokesperson Charla Haley. "I think that had a big impact on the smaller numbers of people testing positive as well as people just being tested in general."

The pandemic rages on. More than 180,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. States and cities are closing businesses. Nearly 800,000 people are applying for unemployment every week.

Despite all this, Congress has not passed an economic relief package since late April — and a set of vital relief measures helping millions of Americans avoid financial ruin and eviction are all set to expire this month.

Kurt Papenfus, a doctor in the small town of Cheyenne Wells, Colo., started to feel sick around Halloween. He developed a scary cough, intestinal symptoms and a headache. In the midst of a pandemic, the news that he had COVID-19 wasn't surprising, but Papenfus' illness would have repercussions far beyond his own health.

Papenfus is the lone full-time emergency room doctor in the town of 900, not far from the Kansas line.

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