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UPDATES: Roaring Fork Valley Coronavirus: April 5 - 11, 2020

Apr 10, 2020

Credit Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Glenwood Springs’ Annual Strawberry Days Cancelled

Saturday, April 11- The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association has announced that the Annual Strawberry Days Festival will be postponed to 2021.  The event was scheduled for June 19-21 of this year.

In a release, Angie Anderson, President and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, said, “These are truly challenging and unprecedented times, and this decision was not made lightly. We know how much this annual festival means to locals, visitors and vendors who attend; however, our priority is the health and safety of the community.”

Strawberry Days is a 123-year tradition.  

Anderson added, “We hope to be able to gather the community together later this year for a celebration of some kind.”

RFTA Passengers Must Wear Face Coverings Starting Monday

Friday, April 10 - The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority decided to mandate face coverings for all passengers and limit the maximum number of passengers on each bus to nine. 

“Every person boarding a RFTA bus must have a face cover or cloth mask covering their nose and mouth in order to use RFTA services,” the authority said in a release. “Scarves, bandannas, buffs or other non-medical coverings are acceptable.”

RFTA emphasized that its buses should only be used for essential travel and asked passengers to maintain six feet of distance on buses and at bus stops 

Pitkin and Eagle Counties Implement Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

Friday, April 10 - Pitkin and Eagle County sheriffs are implementing stage 1 fire restrictions. The Pitkin County sheriff cited a “possibility of diminished law, fire, and EMS resources due to the COVID-19 state of emergency." The restrictions are effective this weekend and until further notice. 

Sheriff James Van Beek of Eagle County says that the restriction is to protect the health and safety of those struggling with respiratory issues related to the COVID-19 virus. Officials also say a wildfire would pull emergency resources away from dealing with the pandemic. 

Under the restrictions, people cannot have fires or campfires except within developed recreation sites and on private property. Smoking is also prohibited, “except within an enclosed vehicle, or building, at a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area of at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.” Personal fireworks and exploding targets are also prohibited. 

Forest Service Announces Temporary Recreation Site Closures And Fire Restrictions

Wednesday, April 8 - Forest Service officials announced developed recreation sites will be temporarily closed in the Rocky Mountain region. The federal department also announced fire restrictions in the area. 

The orders will affect national forests and grasslands across Colorado, Kansas, Nebrasksa, South Dakota and Wyoming. 

There are still some recreational opportunities on federal lands, including dispersed camping, hiking and river use, but it is not encouraged. All developed sites such as water stations, picnic tables, restroom facilities and trash collection services will be closed. 

Fire restrictions do not allow any use of fires, including charcoal grills, barbecues and wood-burning stoves.

Glenwood Springs Requires Face Coverings For All Residents And Retail Workers

Tuesday, April 7 - Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa issued an order for all Glenwood Springs residents and retail workers to wear face coverings for all essential activities outside their home. The order cites guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is designed to "lower the risk of the disease spreading through someone who may be sick but not realize it."

The city defines face coverings as "bandanas, scarves, neck gaiters or other clothing that does not have visible holes" and encourages the public to use non-medical face coverings. The order is effective immediately and will last through April 26.

Latest Testing Stats From Valley View Hospital

Tuesday, April 7 - Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs said since the start of the outbreak, 25 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and 14 have been admitted for treatment. Because of limited resources, Valley View is only testing people who require hospitalization or are considered “high-risk.” So far, the hospital has collected 217 specimens for testing. 

Colorado Mountain College Using Federal Stimulus To Wave Tuition, Books And Fees  

Tuesday, April 7- Colorado Mountain College trustees voted Monday to use federal stimulus funds to waive tuition, books and fees for three categories of students during the summer 2020 academic term. The college expects to receive $1.6 million.

 CMC outlined a number of other measures in response to COVID-19, including donating all available personal protective equipment to local hospitals and clinics. Other measures are aimed to help students amidst disruptions to education, such as distributing donated laptops to students who need them and providing internet service to students and families without broadband access.

In addition to the federal stimulus, CMC plans to help fund those initiatives with internal savings, including those from hiring freezes, canceled commencement ceremonies and reductions in energy usage. Altogether, the college estimates the internal savings and federal stimulus add up to “nearly $2 million.”

Gov. Polis Extends Stay-At-Home Order

Monday, April 6 - Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday he is extending the state's stay-at-home order until April 26. 

The order directs Coloradans to stay at home unless going to grocery stores for food, seeking medical care or going to and from work. It also ordered businesses to close temporarily or engage in minimum operations, excluding essential workers, like grocery store workers and emergency personnel. 

Polis said Colorado is beginning to see the impacts of social distancing measures with the virus beginning to slow in the state. According to the press release announcing the extension, the number of cases of COVID-19 in Colorado was doubling every 1.5 days at the beginning of the outbreak. Now, the number of cases is doubling every six days.

With continued social distancing, Polis said life will return to normal sooner. 

State Officials Update Crisis Standards Of Care For COVID-19

Monday, April 6 - The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or CDPHE, announced in a press conference Monday the state is preparing to use the crisis standards of care. These guidelines help the medical community decide how to allocate scare resources, such as ventilators and intensive care unit beds. 

These guidelines are not being used yet, though state officials said Gov. Jared Polis could declare a state of emergency and activate the standards of care if the healthcare systems are overwhelmed with too many patients and not enough resources. 

The governor's Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee updated the crisis care standards to include a triage team in each hospital of experts and hospital leadership staff to make the decisions of how resources will be used. They will make those decisions based on a four-tier system.

As of Monday afternoon, CDPHE reported 5,172 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. Officials say that number may look small but they estimate between 17,000-18,000 residents have been infected.

CDPHE officials stressed social distancing is key to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Staying home and keeping six feet apart will also buy time for the state's healthcare systems to find enough resources to handle the peak of the virus. 

Governor Jared Polis Urges Residents to Wear Cloth Masks While Away From Home

Saturday, April 4 - Governor Jared Polis is urging all residents to wear cloth masks if they need to leave their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Polis says wearing the masks at grocery stores and on walks will slow the spread of the virus and allow Colorado to lift its stay-at-home order sooner. In a Thursday press conference, Polis wore a Colorado-themed mask as he encouraged residents to be creative and make them at home.