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Alex Hager

Reporter

Alex comes to Aspen from KDLG, the public radio station in Dillingham, Alaska. There, he served as a “fish reporter,” producing nightly broadcasts for a fleet of boats in the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. Living in a town of 2,500 people that was only reachable by plane and boat taught him about the profound value that public radio can bring to a community. His Alaskan reporting escapades included a bush plane trip to a tiny fishing village on the South Peninsula, in-depth breakdowns of salmon biology, and conversations with mining executives about the Pebble Mine project. 

Before his time in Alaska, Alex spent four years at Elon University in North Carolina. There, he was a reporter for Elon News Network, where he covered just about every beat for just about every medium. Highlights include stories of Venezuelan students watching their country’s crisis from afar, a week of breaking news reporting on Hurricane Florence, and coverage of UNC Chapel Hill’s Confederate statue controversy. 

While at Elon, Alex also worked as a sports correspondent for the Burlington Times-News, covering ACC football and basketball as well as Carolina Panthers NFL football. 

When he’s not in the office, Alex enjoys hiking, practicing Spanish, playing basketball, and reading poetry. He was born and raised in Connecticut. 

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Aspen Valley Hospital is only seeing a “slight volume” of patients with symptoms of COVID-19, according to an update from CEO Dave Ressler in Thursday’s Pitkin County virtual community meeting. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the hospital has admitted 18 patients. One is still in the hospital, and “all but two” of the other patients were discharged to recover at home.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Last week, a backcountry skier was critically injured in an avalanche near Ophir, Colorado, about 20 minutes south of Telluride. More than 50 people were involved in the rescue. Local health and ski industry officials have urged backcountry adventurers to take extra caution so as to avoid putting an extra burden on already-strained first responders and healthcare facilities.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Travel restrictions and social distancing requirements have left many local businesses closed, with some staying shut through the spring offseason. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association expects that the impact will last into summer and the cancellation of Aspen Ideas Festival and the Food & Wine Classic will deal a blow to the summer economy.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Few retailers in the Roaring Fork Valley remain open after a statewide order shut down those that were not deemed essential. Liquor stores and dispensaries are on the short list of essential businesses, but are reporting a slowdown in sales.

Lauri Jackson / Aspen Public Radio

Aspen Public Radio has compiled the following list of local, state and national resources that are providing current, trustworthy coronavirus information. 

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County Holds Virtual Community Meeting Thursday

Wednesday, April 1- Pitkin County will hold a virtual community meeting Thursday at 2:00 pm. This meeting will be led by the Pitkin Sheriff's Office, Aspen Valley Hospital, Pitkin County Public Health  and the Hope Center. 

Aspen Public Radio will broadcast the meeting on our FM frequencies at 91.5 in Aspen and 88.9 in Carbondale.  

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin, Eagle Counties Report Second Deaths of Residents, Garfield County Says One Has Died

 

Garfield County Public Health says that one resident, a woman in her 70’s who tested positive for COVID-19, has died. The woman had other significant health conditions.

 Garfield County released a statement saying it "extends deep condolences to the family members of the woman for their loss."

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Aspen Valley Hospital has admitted 10 patients with symptoms of COVID-19 since the outbreak began. Two are currently at the hospital; one is in critical condition. In Pitkin County’s online community meeting Thursday, Dave Ressler, the hospital’s CEO, said patient volumes are light but they are seeing sicker patients than before.

Courtesy Shea Sweeney

Shea Sweeney is a single mom of two in Aspen. Her 13-year-old son came down with a fever and a cough last Tuesday. A video call with a doctor ended with a diagnosis, and they’ve been isolated ever since.

Alex Hager

While shops and restaurants around the Roaring Fork Valley have shut their doors to slow the spread of coronavirus, healthcare workers are gearing up for an overload. Dr. Ben Peery, a physician in the emergency department at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said medical school doesn’t prepare doctors for situations like this one. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado’s ski resorts are closed by order of the Governor, but some adventurous residents are still “uphilling” by hiking or skinning up the slopes. On Friday, Vail Resorts shut down uphill access at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte. Sunlight Mountain in Glenwood Springs did the same Sunday.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

UPDATE: We've moved to doing weekly updates since information is changing rapidly. Find them here.
 

Updated: Saturday, March 21, 3:30 p.m. 

Eagle County Public Health and Environment has confirmed the first death of an Eagle County resident from COVID-19. The patient was a male in his 60s with underlying health conditions. He died at a Denver-area hospital. 

 “It is with a heavy heart that we are confirming the loss of one of our community members from COVID-19. We are extremely saddened by the news and extend our deepest condolences to the family,” said Heath Harmon, Director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment.  “The news of this loss in our community serves as a solemn reminder that COVID-19 can pose greater risks to some members of our community, in particular older adults and people with pre-existing health conditions. We must all take steps to protect our families, ourselves, our friends, and our community.”

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Updated: March 20, 2020

The Aspen Skiing Company has announced that they will close all mountains for the remainder of the 2019-2020 ski season. 

The company says this is in response to Governor Jared Polis extending an order that closed all Colorado ski resorts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Polis announced Wednesday that resorts were to remain closed through April 6. 

via United States Census Bureau

The census is underway across the nation, taking a headcount to determine how resources, funding, and congressional seats are allocated. Due to coronavirus, some in-person counting efforts will be put on hold, but online, mail and phone responses are still going on as planned.

Tammy Terwelp / Aspen Public Radio

Governor Jared Polis has issued a public health order with new, aggressive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 Gatherings and events are now limited to no more than 10 people.  Retail stores are allowed to remain open with fewer than 10 people in the store at once. Restaurants can still have take-out service, but only five or fewer people can wait for food at a time.   The new order will run through April 17. 

via Pitkin County

Health officials and community leaders livestreamed answers to questions from residents about COVID-19 during a Pitkin County community meeting Monday. Local leaders emphasized the importance of social distancing to stem the spread of the virus, and they provided updates on topics ranging from testing for coronavirus to getting food to people who need it.

reid.neureiter / via Creative Commons

Vail Resorts is suspending operations at all of its North American mountain resorts and retail stores from March 15 to March 22. That includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Crested Butte and Keystone. A statement from the resort company said it will be using the time to “reassess [its] approach for the rest of the season.”

 

C.S. Goldsmith and A. Tamin / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Coronavirus control strategy at state and county levels is moving toward social distancing, a practice focused on limiting contact between people in efforts to stem transmission. 

That marks a shift away from the previous approach of contact tracing, which aims to identify people who have been in contact with known positive cases of the disease.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority says it does not expect to completely suspend bus service amid concern over COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. RFTA is sanitizing buses, expanding sick leave for drivers and drafting contingency plans should a reduction in service prove necessary.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Across the country, events have been cancelled and people are pulling back on travel in response to the spread of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus. For more on how the disease is affecting the tourism industry here in Pitkin County, Jeff Hanle, communications director for Aspen Skiing Company, weighed in.

Hannah A Bullock; Azaibi Tamin / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

 


As of Wednesday afternoon, Pitkin County had the most presumptive positive coronavirus cases in Colorado. The total currently stands at nine, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. All of the cases are connected to a woman from Australia who visited Aspen and tested positive upon return to her home country. 

 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado currently has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but Pitkin County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann said officials are taking precautions should the illness arrive in the area. 

“We really do believe it's not if, it's when, we will have cases in Colorado,” Koenemann said. “We may have cases in Pitkin County. And so I think just being aware and being prepared for that is where we're at right now.”

 

 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

On Tuesday, voters in fourteen states will pick their preferred democratic candidate to face off against likely GOP nominee President Donald Trump in November’s general election. Colorado is among the states holding a primary on Super Tuesday.

Aspen Public Radio analyzed a year of individual contribution data from the Federal Election Commission, a government agency that keeps track of campaign finance information.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Housing can be tough to find in the Roaring Fork Valley, and the list of properties gets shorter when it comes to finding places that accept pets. 

Charissa Carvell, a dog trainer at Colorado Animal Rescue in Glenwood Springs, knows this situation all too well. People will come to the rescue to surrender their cats and dogs because they can’t find housing that will take their pets.  

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

As of Wednesday, this winter’s snowpack is nearly exactly the same as it was last year. 2019’s skyrocket in snowfall totals did not begin until the first week of March. Russ Schumacher, a climatologist at Colorado State University, says that jump isn’t likely to repeat.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado Parks and Wildlife says it received 5,369 total bear calls from April 1 through Dec. 31 of 2019. On Wednesday, the agency released the latest statistics from its modernized tracking system. CPW said there are likely an equal number of human-bear interactions that go unreported.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Firefighters say a falling ice dam was likely to blame for a structure fire in Aspen last weekend. Ice dams tend to form in the late winter when snow on rooftops melts and refreezes near the edge of the roof, creating large, heavy chunks of ice.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Tuesday night, Snowmass Town Council discussed the latest plans for a redevelopment of Snowmass Center. This week’s meeting focused largely on parking. Some council members, including mayor Markey Butler, said current plans don’t include sufficient parking. 

Courtesy of Pitkin County

Work begins Monday to hold back erosion along a stretch of the Crystal River, where Pitkin County Open Space and Trails says the river is undercutting the Crystal Trail.

The construction site is at highway 133 and Thomas Road, south of Carbondale, where the Crystal River bends toward the highway. The project will see heavy machinery in the river to modify the river channel, stabilize the bank and plant native vegetation.

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