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Roaring Fork Valley Coronavirus Updates: March 22 - 28, 2020

Mar 27, 2020

A closed sign stands outside Aspen's Wheeler Opera House.
Credit 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."

"With cases confirmed and lab tests pending countywide," the statement said, "the community is urged to continue practicing social distancing and stay at home public health orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community."

 

Friday, the Pitkin County Public Health Department confirmed the second death of a Pitkin County resident who tested positive for COVID-19.

 

The victim, 55-year-old Paul Laukkanen, was discovered already deceased by Aspen Police Department officers performing a welfare check on Tuesday, March 25. 

 

Laukkanen had reported minimal symptoms of night sweats and fever several days before his death.  The decedent was from Sweden but has lived in Aspen for many years. 

Eagle County Public Health and Environment is reporting the second death of an Eagle County resident from COVID-19. The patient was a man in his 40s. No other information is currently available. “We are a small community. The loss of another community member has an impact on all of us,” said Heath Harmon, Director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment. 

Garfield County Asks Community To Track COVID-19 Symptoms And Feelings

Garfield County Public Health has launched two new online tools to collect data from the community on COVID-19. The first will collect information on COVID symptoms people are experiencing, and the second is to gain a greater sense of the overall mental health status of members of the community.

Because widespread community testing is not available in Garfield County at this time, the new online self-report symptoms form may help to provide the department with data to track the spread of COVID-19 in the county.  If you are experiencing manageable COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath, the public health department would like to capture this information.  Also located on the Garfield County Covid-19 testing page is the social distancing feelings check-in form. This form is for everyone, with or without symptoms, to track how community members are feeling during this time of isolation and social distancing practices. 

Pitkin County Orders All Short-Term Rentals To Cease Operation

Pitkin County says that lodges, hotels and other short-term rentals in Aspen must cease operation until Pitkin County and state public health orders are lifted and guests should vacate those units immediately.  Short-term rentals are those available for occupancy for less than 30 consecutive days. The order also applies to privately owned residential property within city limits being used as a short-term rental, as well as individual rooms being rented out within a private property. 

The State and County orders also include any individual room within a residential property being used as a short-term rental.  All short-term rentals shall cease operation immediately and vacate guests residing in those units.  Exemptions to this order:

  • Local residents using short-term rentals as a permanent residence 
  • Anyone in quarantine or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 using a short-term rental to self-isolate
  • Anyone able to demonstrate good cause for maintaining residence in a short-term rental to comply with state and county public health orders. 

 Those with questions should contact Pitkin County Public Health, the City of Aspen Community Development Department (970-920-5090) or Phillip.supino@cityofaspen.com. 

All Colorado Parks and Wildlife Campgrounds Closed Until Further Notice

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, or CPW, will close all playgrounds, campgrounds, camping and camping facilities, including yurts and cabins, at Colorado’s state parks as well as camping at State Wildlife Areas. The department says its in accordance with the Governor’s stay-at-home order and advice from state and national health agencies.

 The closure is effective immediately and in place until further notice. Non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails, boat ramps, marinas and shorelines remain open. In a statment, CPW said park visitors should “practice social distancing and maintain at least six feet between other visitors.”

Carbondale Establishes New Emergency Task Force

The Town of Carbondale has established the Carbondale Emergency Task Force (CETF) to provide support and guidance to the town on the potential impact from the COVID-19 global pandemic public health crisis. The CETF will be overseen by mayor Dan Richardson, along with town manager Jay Harrington.

 

Organizations participating in the task force include Carbondale Chamber and Carbondale Tourism (TCC), Carbondale Arts, Carbondale Police Department and the newly formed Carbondale Mutual Aid Group. 

 

The community is encouraged to visit the CETF webpage for all public announcements and updates from the task force, including news alerts and direction on public health from the state and county. 

 

Pitkin County Virtual Community Meeting On Thursday

Pitkin County Public Health will hold a community meeting Thursday at 2:00 p.m. Local public and elected officials will provide an update on the current status of the state of Pitkin County, the City of Aspen, Town of Snowmass Village and Town of Basalt as it pertains to COVID-19. 

The meeting will be broadcast on Grassroots Community Network TV Channels 11,12 & 880. It can also be streamed on the county's website and on Facebook.  

Pitkin County Launches Surveys For Symptom Tracking

Pitkin County announced two new surveys Wednesday to help gather information about the spread of COVID-19. The surveys include a symptom tracking survey and a community well-being survey.

Pitkin County also launched a new website for local and statewide updates and community relief resources.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include headache, sore throat, fever, cough and muscle and body aches. 

Local County Governments Allocate Funding For COVID-19 Response

Eagle County Commissioners allocated $1.15 million for COVID-19 response and recovery on Tuesday. 

$250,000 will help community partners with their own responses, such as LIFT-UP and the Eagle Valley Community Foundation. $500,000 will fund the Emergency Operations Center, which ensures medical system capacity and continuity, protecting the most vulnerable from COVID-19 and promoting economic and social recovery. 

The $1.15 million fund also includes $400,000 for economic services and expand existing programs. Eagle County Human Services will oversee the distribution of monetary resources to residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. To apply for that assistance, submit an application.

Pitkin County approved an emergency resolution on March 17, approving $500,000 to the public health response to COVID-19 pandemic. The Pitkin County Board of Commissioners are expected to approve another $500,000 on Wednesday.

Childcare Services Offered To Essential Workers In The Valley

Kids First, along with Pitkin County and Eagle County Human Services, Aspen Valley Hospital and local childcare programs, is offering childcare services to essential healthcare and emergency response employees.

Local childcare facilities are closed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but many parents who are working in healthcare, grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and public safety are in need of childcare since many continue to go to work. 

A full list of who is covered for emergency childcare is on the Kids First's website.

If you are in need of childcare and work in one of these critical services, call Kids First at 970-920-5363 or email emergencychildcare@cityofaspen.com. If you are a childcare teacher and are available, contact Kids First to be added to the list of available care providers. 

LIFT-UP Food Pantries Release Schedule For Drive-Up Food Assistance

For those who need food assistance, LIFT-UP Food Pantries are providing food in a drive-through format throughout the valley on the following schedule: 

  • Parachute- Thursday at 2 p.m. at LIFT-UP Food Pantry (201 E. First St.)
  • Rifle -Wednesday and Friday at 2 p.m. at Rifle Fairgrounds
  • New Castle- Wednesday and Friday at 2 p.m-  Elk Creek Elementary School Parking Lot (804 W. Main St.)
  • Glenwood- Monday and Thursday at 2 p.m. in Glenwood Springs High School south parking lot
  • Carbondale- Monday and Thursday at 2 p.m. in the Third Street Center parking lot
  • Aspen/Pitkin County- Wednesday, March 25 & April 1st at 12 p.m., Food Bank of the Rockies will partner with Aspen Family Connections will distribute food in the Aspen High School parking lot. 

LIFT-UP is asking for reusable grocery bags and non-perishable food items to be dropped at Rifle Fairgrounds, Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., or at any of the above locations during distribution. 

Food And Wine Classic In Aspen Cancelled

Hunter Lewis, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, announced Monday that the culinary festival, which draws thousands to Aspen each June, was cancelled. He said the decision was made out of concern for the safety of the restaurant community “and the world beyond it.”

Governor Jared Polis Orders All Non-Critical Workplaces To Reduce In-Person Workforce

Gov. Jared Polis announced in a press conference Sunday he will sign an executive order for all non-critical workplaces in Colorado to reduce in-person workforce by 50%. 

 

This excludes critical industries, such as healthcare systems, and workplaces that allows employees to work more than six feet apart. 

Polis said the executive order will also include more guidance on how Coloradans can successfully keep distance from one another to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

 

Polis encouraged residents to stay home unless they are going to and from work, caring for vulnerable people, recreating outdoors or picking up necessities, such as food and prescriptions.

 

Polis said there are 591 positive cases of COVID-19 in Colorado as of Sunday afternoon. That includes eight cases in Garfield County, 80 cases in Eagle County and 16 cases in Pitkin County. Polis pointed out with minimal testing capabilities, there are likely over 1,000 cases in the state.

 

Pikin County Community Meeting Postponed

A virtual community meeting with Pitkin County officials scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday, March 23 will be postponed. A new date and time will be announced soon, according to Pitkin County officials.

RFTA Cuts Services Starting Monday

Further reductions in service from the Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) start Monday. 

The City of Glenwood Springs and RFTA are temporarily suspending operations of Ride Glenwood until further notice. 

Ride Glenwood serves the Community Center, the Meadows shopping center, West Glenwood Mall, Hwys 6 and 24, Downtown and the Roaring Fork Market Place. RFTA’s BRT and Local services along the regional Highway 82 corridor can be used to access many of these locations in the absence of Ride Glenwood.  

The City of Glenwood Springs is also temporarily suspending all non-critical air traffic at the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport. The airport will maintain essential administrative operations and all critical emergency medical, search and rescue, and local aviation and fire emergency services.

State Parks Remain Open, But Visitor Centers Are Closed

State parks will remain open, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has closed visitor centers and other public areas to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Despite restricted public access, most offices will remain staffed and able to serve customers via phone or email. Restrooms and public areas will continue being cleaned and maintained.

Those who want to purchase licenses, park passes or vehicle registrations, or who want to apply for the big game hunting draw, can visit CPWshop.com or call 800.244.5613.

 

Visitors are encouraged to purchase their parks passes and other products through drop boxes, credit card pay stations, or online at CPWshop.com.