Pitkin County health officials said they are on track to move to phase two of a reopening plan as early as May 27. The county needs to see certain patterns in health data to enter that phase. In Thursday’s board of health meeting, county officials and Aspen Valley Hospital staff said they have not seen a new COVID-19 case since early April, neighboring counties are posting low case numbers and the staff at the hospital is almost entirely healthy.
Health officials cautioned that current health data likely does not reflect any increased transmission that could have occured since restrictions were loosened on May 9.
The second phase of restriction rollbacks could allow the partial reopening of hotels and dine-in service at restaurants. Colorado is expected to issue an update on statewide rules for restaurants on May 25. Pitkin County may request a variance from state rules afterwards, which would allow it to set public health guidelines that are more or less strict than the state’s.
After businesses begin the next stage of reopening, county epidemiologists plan to monitor occupancy and visitor data from hotels, restaurants and the airport.
By monitoring those data points, the county can be “surgical as opposed to blunt in [its] response,” said Charles Spickert, an epidemiologist contracted by the county.
County health officials even floated the idea of testing wastewater for traces of the virus, a practice which is already being carried out in nearby Gunnison County.
Editor's note: This story originally included a graphic depicting Eagle County's reopening plan. It has been updated to include Pitkin County's instead.