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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: July 12 - July 18, 2020

Alex Hager
Aspen Public Radio

Eagle County Updates Public Health Order

Friday, July 17 - Eagle County updated its public health order effective immediately Friday due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. Under the new order, only ten people are allowed at private gastherings, indoor public gatherings are reduced to 100 people and indoor public gatherings will allow 175 people or less. 

In all gatherings, six feet of distance is required between non-household members. Other updates to the public health order include increasing testing capacity to ensure results within 48 hours and offering more support for those who must isolate and quarantine, such as paid leave.

Eagle County officials said the county is seeing an increase in the percentage of positive tests, but has not yet seen an increase in hospitalizations. County public health officials said by taking actions now to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the county will be able to maintain the current economy and make long-term plans for ski season and opening schools. 

Eagle County currently has 822 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 69 of them announced in the last five days. 

Pitkin And Eagle Counties Show High Unemployment Numbers In June

Friday, July 17 - Pitkin and Eagle Counties saw some of the highest unemployment rates for June in the state, though its rates decreased from May. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Pitkin County's unemployment rate fell from 20.1% in May to 16% in June. Eagle County's fell from 17.7% to 15.7% and Garfield County saw a slight decrease from 10.1% to 9.7%.

Though local counties are seeing improvements in unemployment rates, Pitkin and Eagle Counties' remain some of the highest in the state behind Gilpin, San Miguel and Summit counties. 

Statewide, the unemployment rate slightly increase by three-tenths of a percent to 10.5% in June. Though, the state's labor force grew by over 100,000 workers and employers in Colorado added 55,000 nonfarm payroll jobs from May to June. 

Since June 2019, nonfarm payroll jobs have decreased by 183,000, with 166,800 total losses in private sector roles and 16,200 in goverment jobs. The largest losses were in the leisure and hospitality industry with 86,600 lost jobs. 

Modeling Data Shows Decline In Social Distancing

Friday, July 17 - Modeling data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state over the last few weeks. A team of public health experts from the Colorado School of Public Health project those increases are because of a decline in social distancing in May and June.

According to the report, if Colorado continues to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations, its intensive care unit capacity will be exceeded in early September. If social distancing continues to decline, the state could exceed hospital capacity by late August.

If Coloradans follow protocols and increase social distancing efforts, the projected growth in COVID-19 cases and hospital demand is slower. The report claims depending the ability of the state to decrease cases, intensive care unit capacity could be reached in the fall or not at all. 

Roaring Fork Valley Governments Send Letter To Governor Polis Asking For Uniform Testing Strategy

Thursday, July 16 - Roaring Fork Valley governments sent a letter to Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment asking for a more uniform testing strategy across Colorado. The letter asks the state to focus testing based on need, avoid misuse of limited testing equipment and communicate better with towns and hospitals.

“There’s a lot of confusion with lack of consistency with who can get a test, where you can get a test," Butler said. "So that’s really a problem for our little local hospital.”

The letter also says turnaround times on test results should be shortened to 48 hours or less. Recently, tests have taken 8-10 days to yield results.

Polis Announces Statewide Mask Order

Thursday, July 16 - Governor Jared Polis announced a statewide order requiring all people to wear masks in public. State health officials said Colorado is on track to exceed ICU bed capacity in September or October without changes, and Polis said requiring masks is one way to avoid virus rates “exponentially taking off.”

“We have a choice in Colorado," Polis said. "Either more mask wearing and attention to social distancing, or more damage to our economy and loss of life.”

The mask order goes into effect at midnight Thursday. Polis also put a two-week pause on new county variances to state health policy.

Pitkin County Holds Community Meeting Today At 2 p.m.

Thursday, July 16 - Pitkin County will hold a virtual community meeting today at 2 p.m. to provide an update on both local and regional cases of COVID-19 in the community and testing capacity at Aspen Valley Hospital. Epidemiologists will discuss the "Box-It-In Strategy" and challenges the county is facing with contract tracing. The meeting can be watched here

Gov. Jared Polis Encourages Coloradans To Continue Following Public Health Protocols

Wednesday, July 15 - Gov. Jared Polis reminded residents to follow social distancing measures and wear masks out in public as Colorado sees an increase in cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19.

At a press conference Tuesday, Polis warned that for Colorado to stay on track for reopening, cases need to go down. He said it is ultimately up to individuals to help slow the spread by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

"Frankly, I'm worried that Coloradans are taking our fragile success...as somehow a signal that we're out of the woods when that's far from the truth," he said. 

Polis did not address if he will issue a statewide mask ordinance at the press conference, but did say public health orders could be rolled back if there is no improvement in the number of cases and hospitalizations. 

As of Wednesday morning, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports 37,686 cases of COVID-19 and 5,963 hospitalizations.

Garfield County Reports Fourth COVID-19 Related Death

Tuesday, July 14 - Garfield County public health officials today announced the county's fourth death from COVID-19 since the outbreak began in March. The patient was in his late 60s, and passed away at his home.

The county's cases have been rising in recent weeks, with an average of 49 new cases per week reported over the last three weeks. A total of 423 coronavirus cases have been reported in Garfield County since the pandemic began.

Glenwood Springs Community Center To Reopen Monday, July 20

Monday, July 13 - The Glenwood Springs Community Center will reopen to fitness, pool and basketball gym reservations July 20 after being closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19 on July 5.  

The closure was necessary due to lack of adequate staffing while some employees completed self-isolation as recommended by Garfield County Public Health, according to a release from the City of Glenwood Springs.

Social distancing protocols will remain in place for all community center users - including limited access, separate entrances to the fitness area and the lap pool as well as entry and exit to each area, and guests can only enter the area for which they have a reservation. Guests are also required to maintain social distance while using the facilities and strict cleaning occurs after each use of fitness areas.

Eagle County Adds Demographic Data To COVID-19 Statistics

Update: Monday, July 13 - Pitkin County's COVID-19 statistics webpage now includes race and ethnicity data.

Sunday, July 12 - Eagle County has added demographic data to its publicly viewable COVID-19 monitoring dashboard. New data includes the age, gender and ethnicity of confirmed cases. The county said it is including this information to "better inform the public of the impact of the disease in particular on the local workforce, Latino community, older adults, and youth and young adults."

Garfield County's COVID-19 dashboard includes sex and ethnicity data, while Pitkin County's does not. The number of COVID-19 cases in all three counties is considered to be "increasing."

Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin Counties Outline Regional COVID-19 Testing Strategy

Sunday, July 12 - Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties announced today a regional testing strategy citing a surge of cases nationwide. Health officials say the goal of partnering is to create a more efficient system for testing, and return test results within 48 hours.

Officials continue to stress that residents should adhere to public health protocols, and get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 that persist. More information on COVID-19 testing can be found on Eagle County's websitePitkin County's page, and from Garfield County.


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.
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.
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