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Aspen Public Radio will keep you informed on the latest information about the coronavirus here in Colorado and the Valley.

UPDATES: Roaring Fork Valley Coronavirus: April 12 - 18, 2020

Alex Hager
Aspen Public Radio

Eagle County Asking State For Partial Relief From Stay-At-Home Orders

Saturday, April 18 - Eagle County is seeking exemptions from certain portions of Colorado's stay-at-home orders. If approved, it would allow Eagle County Public Health and Environment limited flexibility to start implementing plans to slowly reopen the community.

Those possible changes include increase the size of gatherings from zero to ten, opening non-critical, non-essential and non-governmental businesses that can follow social distancing requirements and opening outdoor recreation facilities. 

County officials sent a letter on April 16 asking to approve the exemptions and expect an answer next week. 

Pitkin County Sheriff's Office Urges Caution After Skier-Triggered Avalanche in Highland Bowl

Friday, April 17 - A skier was uninjured after triggering a slide in the G8 zone of Highland Bowl on Friday morning. Several other skiers were in the area when the avalanche occured, and members of Mountain Rescue Aspen were able to communicate with the group and confirm that no one else was buried or injured in the slide. 

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) forecast rated Friday's avalanche conditions as "Considerable," and CAIC, the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office and Mountain Rescue Aspen have advocated for extreme caution in the backcountry in light of spring conditions and ongoing healthcare and emergency response concerns due to COVID-19. 

Colorado Is Launching a New Symptom Tracker Survey as Part of Its COVID-19 Response

Friday, April 17 - The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is rolling out a new online symptom tracker to help evaluate local COVID-19 cases around the state. While the survey doesn't replace testing in terms of defining positive cases, it could be useful for local health officials keeping tabs on early warning signs of imminent outbreaks in different parts of the state. CDPHE officials also think it will be helpful in following up with potential COVID-19 patients. Coloradans can find the tracker on CDPHE's "Do you have symptoms?" web page.

That symptom tracker rollout comes on the heels of CDPHE announcing earlier this week that it will be releasing weekly reports regarding confirmed outbreaks at facilities around the state. Citing transparency, CDPHE officials will compile weekly lists of COVID-19 cases at long-term care and assisted living facilities, senior communities, inpatient rehab facilities and long-term acute care hospitals. 

Data from the state's correctional facilties, and other settings like factories, schools, childcare centers, and camps will be included in the weekly report. Colorado residents can access the data by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

Pitkin County Begins Small Scale Testing Friday

Friday, April 17 - Pitkin County is running a small-scale pilot program of its COVID-19 antibody testing today at Aspen Village fire station. Testing is not yet open to the public, but the county says Friday’s trial run will be used to gauge the accuracy of its blood tests and the efficiency of its mobile testing operation.

The sixteen people invited for testing on Friday have been previously tested, which will help officials determine the accuracy of its new blood tests.

Piktin County Announces A Mobile COVID-19 Testing Lab

Tuesday, April 14 - Pitkin County Incident Management Team announced Tuesday a mobile lab is being established. The mobile lab will be set up in Pitkin County's incident command trailer.

Gabe Muething from the county's incident management team said in a press release that there is still logistics to be sorted out before testing begins but plans should be finalized by the end of the week. 

The tests Pitkin County purchased last week from Aytu Bioscience are being prepared to use for the public testing site. 

Garfield County Announces Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

Tuesday, April 14 - Garfield County announced Tuesday it will implement Stage 1 fire restrictions beginning Wednesday, April 15 until further notice. County officials said first responders are not available for both COVID-19 and non-essential fire burning responses. 

The restrictions postpones and cancels all burn permits, does not allow explosive materials, such as bullets, and bans any fires on undeveloped areas. Though, campfires are allowed only within designated fire grates in developed areas. 

Garfield County defines a developed area that is groomed, manicured or watered, like residential and business areas. Undeveloped areas is land that is unkept and allowed to grow in a natural environment, such as open space lands and non-manicured park lands. 

This is the third county in the Roaring Fork Valley to issue a Stage 1 fire restriction. Both Pitkin County and Eagle County issued restrictions last week.

Senator Kerry Donovan To Host Two Online Events This Week

Monday, April 13 - Senator Kerry Donovan is hosting two online events to discuss COVID-19 in Colorado on Thursday, April 16 and Friday, April 17.

Officials from the Governor's Task Force on Tourism and Economic Recovery, the Small Business Development Center, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and healthcare professionals from Delta Memorial Hospital will be on hand for Thursday's virtual town hall. 

Residents of Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake and Pitkin Counties are encouraged to attend, and can submit questions before the event here. Thurday's meeting starts at 3:30 p.m., and prospective attendees can log in from their computers at this link, or join by dialing 720-707-2699 and using the access code 811329283#.

For Friday's virtual event, Senator Donovan will be joined by author Adam Lowenstein to discuss his book Reframe the Day, and how to deal with COVID-19 related fear and uncertainty. The event runs from noon to 12:30 p.m., and can be joined using this link.

Pitkin County Board Of Health Approves Face Mask Advisory

Monday, April 13 - The Pitkin County Board of Health approved a county-wide face mask advisory during a special session on Monday. 

The advisory falls short of legally requiring residents to wear a mask, but strongly recommends wearing non-medical masks in public when entering or inside essential businesses and in outdoor settings where residents aren’t able to practice appropriate social distancing.

Officials define a proper “non-medical” mask say multiple layers of fabric snugly fit over the nose and mouth. Once it’s on, they say to avoid touching the mask and to wash your hands immediately after taking it off. Masks should also be laundered after each use. 

The health advisory is in effect until April 30 and applies to all residents except for children under the age of two.

Pitkin County Board Of Health Holds Special Meeting Monday

Sunday, April 12 - The Pitkin County Board of Health meets Monday, April 13th at 3 p.m. to discuss a new face mask advisory. There will not be an opportunity for public comment, but the meeting can be watched on Zoom at this link.

Antibody Testing Strategy Under Development In Pitkin County

Sunday, April 12- Last week, the Pitkin County Incident Management team yesterday received 1000 rapid finger-prick serology tests from the Englewood, Colo.-based company AYTU

The ATYU test is a serology test. The test requires a drop of blood from a finger prick and gives results in 15-20 minutes. However, it does not detect the active presence of the virus. It is an antibody test that detects whether a person’s body has actively fought the virus via antibody development, which is believed to take seven to 14 days after contracting the virus. 

For that reason, the Pitkin County Incident Management Team (PCIMT) says it is most useful in providing population-level data about how the virus has spread in the community, and they are working with local primary care doctors to determine how the tests will be used. That could include drive-up test centers, providing the test to the doctors to administer or a combination of both. 

“Our hope is this testing process, including strategic sampling methods that will be applied over time, will allow us to better understand potential spread in our community, whether or not people who have tested positive for COVID-19 through a PCR test are developing immunity, and the potential impacts of our suppression strategies to slow that spread,”​ said Deputy Pitkin County Public Health Director Suzuho Shimasaki.

The Incident Management Team will announce the testing plan and how tests can be accessed later this week. 


Contributor Christin Kay is passionate about the rich variety of arts, cultural experiences and stories in the Roaring Fork Valley. She has been a devotee of public radio her whole life. Christin is a veteran of Aspen Public Radio, serving as producer, reporter and interim news director.
Alex is KUNC's reporter covering the Colorado River Basin. He spent two years at Aspen Public Radio, mainly reporting on the resort economy, the environment and the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, he covered the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery for KDLG in Dillingham, Alaska.
Kirsten was born and raised in Massachusetts, and has called Colorado home since 2008. She moved to Vail the day after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. Before relocating to Basalt in 2020, she also spent a year living in one of Aspen’s sister cities, Queenstown, New Zealand.
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