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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: June 28 - July 4, 2020

Alex Hager
Aspen Public Radio

Garfield County Reports Third COVID-19 Death

Friday, July 3 - A male Garfield County resident in his early 70s died from COVID-19. His wife also tested positive, and is in quarantine, according to a release from the county. This comes as cases of the virus continue to rise towards 300 in the county, marking a steady increase over the past several weeks.

“This loss of life underscores the reality that this virus is still spreading in our community, and that we need to remain vigilant," said Yvonne Long, Garfield County public health director. "Until we have a vaccine, the only defense we have is to continue to wear face coverings, to socially distance, to wash our hands, and to stay isolated when we are sick. We take these actions to protect ourselves, but also to protect others.”

Eagle County To Implement New COVID-19 Public Health Order

Thursday, July 2 - Eagle County Public Health and Environment has updated the county’s public health order regarding COVID-19. The move to the “Black Diamond” phase will take place on July 3. 

In that new phase, the county will do the following:

  • Allow gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 175 people outdoors
  • Require people to wear face coverings in indoor public places and businesses
  • Require people to wear face coverings in public outdoor spaces when they'll be less than six feet away from others for more than 15 minutes
  • Remove capacity limits for short-term lodging, such as hotels

Current disease surveillance data has pushed Eagle County into a cautious state with recent increases in spread noted in the county and region. In addition, state and national transmission data continues to increase with several states slowing down their reopening plan in advance of the holiday weekend.

Garfield County Commissioners Ask For Personal Responsibility Ahead Of Holiday Weekend

Thursday, July 2 - The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is asking residents and visitors to take simple actions and personal responsibility to help limit the spread of COVID-19, which tests have confirmed in greater numbers around the county in recent weeks.

The county is not able to enter the less restrictive “Protect Our Neighbors” phase of reopening, due to increasing cases of COVID locally.

“With the governor’s latest health orders, all businesses could open with social distancing plans,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky in a press release. “We are advocating for local control to open our businesses 100 percent, but we won’t be able to meet the criteria if we cannot lower our case count. We all can help us achieve this if we practice safety measures.”

Pitkin County Suspends Its COVID-19 Relief Program

Wednesday, July 1 - Pitkin County today announced that it's suspending its financial relief program for residents. County officials cited unemployment benefits, stimulus checks and assistance from local nonprofits as reasons for decreased demand for aid from the program. 

Pitkin County's COVID-19 relief program has issued $2.3 million to 3,400 residents since the pandemic begin in March. The program is suspended immediately, but applicants who submitted prior to July 1 will still be considered for eligibility. More information can be found on the county's website.

Citing Ongoing COVID-19 Concerns, Garfield County Stays In Current Reopening Phase

Tuesday, June 30 - Garfield County officials today announced they were not ready to enter the next phase of reopening ahead of the 4th of July holiday. This comes the same day as Governor Polis's office announed its  guidance for the "Protect Our Neighbors" phase of reopening, which would allow for less restrictions. Garfield County has seen 35 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 14 days, and is currently rated as red, or high, on the state's system for monitoring transmission.

“Looking ahead to the July 4 holiday weekend we are concerned. We know people will be socializing, and it is up to them to do it responsibly, so as not to further spread the disease. Looking at the data, we can see that our last increase in cases in part stem from the Memorial Day weekend, based on symptom onset dates. We need to take precautions this weekend, so we don’t see another surge in cases,” said the county's public health director Yvonne Long.

Officials are reminding residents and visitors to maintain social distance from one another, wear masks in public and wash their hands frequently to help slow the spread of the virus. They also say that anyone feeling ill should stay home, and get tested for the coronavirus if their symptoms persist.

More information can be found on Garfield County's website.

Pitkin And Eagle Counties Announce Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

Tuesday, June 30 - Pitkin and Eagle counties are implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions starting Thursday, July 2 until further notice. Officials cited upcoming forecasts and an expected deluge of visitors to both areas for the holiday weekend. Stage 1 restrictions ban the use of campfires outside a designated recreational fire ring, as well as prohibit the use of pyrotechnics, such as fireworks, among other restrictions. County officials are urging locals and visitors to adhere to the fire bans and current public health orders while they recreate over the holiday weekend.

More information about fire bans and restrictions throughout Colorado can be found on the state's website.

Governor Polis Closes Bars For In-Person Service Citing Coronavirus

Tuesday, June 30 - Governor Polis today ordered a stop to in-person service at bars and nightclubs due to a recent uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state. Bars will be allowed to continue carry-out alcohol service, and bars that serve food can continue in-person operations as long as patrons remain 6 feet apart and only mingle with those within their own group. Businesses will have 48 hours to comply with the order.

Glenwood Springs Hosts Community Conversation On Tuesday

Monday, June 29 – The City of Glenwood Springs will host a virtual Town Hall Community Conversation at 5:30pm on Tuesday, June 30.  

In a statement, the city said the meeting is part of its effort to answer community questions and to balance public health with the local economy.  

Speakers will include Sara Brainard from Garfield Public Health, Dr. David M. Brooks, Chief Medical Officer for Valley View Hospital and Jonathan Godes, Glenwood Springs Mayor.

The lineup also includes several local business owners.

The city is asking residents for their input on what topics should be covered. 

Residents can text “Glenwood” to 833-TXT-LIVE to be added to the registration list in advance of the event and to receive a call for the event.

Residents can also register in advance and watch the event on the city's website, or call in at 866-416-5235 or 833-380-0618 (Spanish).

RFTA Increases Service Beginning June 28

Sunday, June 28 - Since May, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s ridership has increased by 120%, making social distancing measures hard to follow. On June 28, RFTA will increase services on its BRT, Local, Hogback, Snowmass Village and City of Aspen routes.

RFTA Phase 5 Service Plan will include:

BRT service will increase hours of operation and have more frequent headways. Up valley service will operate from 4:34 a.m. to 6:43 p.m. Down valley service will operate from 5:55 a.m. to 8:18 p.m.

Local Valley buses will continue to run with the last bus at 10:00 p.m. up valley and 12:15 a.m. down valley. Buses will have half hour frequency between 4:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. up valley and 6:15 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. down valley.

Hogback service will have two additional trips from Rifle and one additional trip to Rifle in the morning. Two additional trips have been added to Rifle along with one additional trip from Rifle in the evening.

Ride Glenwood schedules will remain the same.

Half hour service to and from Snowmass Village will run later into the evening to connect with expanded Local Valley service.

City of Aspen routes will increase hours. Riders can expect service from approximately 6:30am-12:00am. The Cross Town Shuttle will also return on June 28.

Maroon Bells shuttles will start on June 28 by reservation only. The shuttle reservation window is currently open for June 28 through the end of July. Reservations can be made at www.aspenchamber.org/maroon-bells.

During the pandemic, RFTA has been urging riders to load and unload through the back door of the bus to avoid coming in contact with the driver. Now that the increased services require more buses to be on the road, riders may be forced to load through the front door. To keep both the driver and riders safe, sneeze guards will be built around the driver and no fare will be collected. 

Face coverings are required for all passengers unless under the age of two. For more information on Phase 5 Service Plan, go to RFTA’s website

Garfield County Receives Over  $5 Million In CARES Act Funding

Sunday, June 28 - Garfield County is being allocated over $5 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act, funding from the federal government. The money will go toward reimbursing local governments within Garfield County for the economic relief they have provided for its community.

The CARES Act funding covers any expenditures not allocated for in the town and county budgets to help with COVID-19 relief, like government employee payrolls, stimulus checks like the Basalt Bucks and Glenwood Gold programs, as well as distance learning models in local school districts.

The $5.1 million will be disbursed to the county and its local municipalities based on population.

Garfield County: $2 million

Silt: $273,000

Rifle: $818,000

Parachute: $96,000

New Castle: $433,000

Glenwood Springs: $864,000

Carbondale: $593,000

Any money that the towns do not use will go back to Garfield County. County officials expect the $5 million can be accessed as early as July 7. 

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.