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

Jul 5, 2020

On a holiday weekend that saw Aspen teeming with visitors, signs outside of busy restaurants advised people to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Credit Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Eagle County Adds Demographic Data To COVID-19 Statistics

Friday, July 10 - 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

Thursday, July 9 - 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 website, Pitkin County's page, and from Garfield County.

State Health Department Updates COVID-19 Website

Wednesday, July 8 - Beginning Wednesday night, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's website will be updated for easier access to COVID-19 information. 

Changes to the website will include a new homepage to better find resources for those who are having symptoms, latest public health information and statewide case data. Web pages will now be organized as the following:

  • Coloradans experiencing symptoms: information on testing, telehealth and contact tracing services
  • Coloradans looking to protect themselves from getting sick: learning how to reduce the spread, manage risks during various activities and how users can protect themselves from COVID-19
  • Local public health agencies and local health care providers: guidance for health care facility operations, crisis standards of car and communication resources
  • The media: news, releases, data and blogs

CDPHE officials said the webiste will continue to offer information in English with Spanish, Vietnamese, simplified Chinese, Somali, Arabic and Nepali translations.

State Department Releases Protect Our Neighbors Qualifications

Wednesday, July 8 - The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released guidance and application forms for local governments to transition to the state's Protect Our Neighbors phase. Local governments can only apply if they meet the qualifications to do so.

The criteria to move on from Safer at Home to Protect Our Neighbors include:

  • Hospitals are able to manage a 20% surge in hospital admissions 
  • Local hospitals must have two weeks of PPE available
  • Stable (no greater than 25% increase) or declining counts of new confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county's refferal hospitals in the last 14 days OR no more than two new hospital admissions of county residents with confirmed COVID-19 on a single day in the last 14 days
  • 25 or fewer cases/100,000 people in the last two weeks
  • County has the capacity to test 15 people per 10,000 residents per day
  • Able to contact trace 85% of assigned cases within 24 hours
  • Able to investigate and contact trace up to 8.7 cases per 100,000 per day
  • County has the testing capacity to test close contacts of outbreak-associated cases

CDPHE officials said since many Colorado counties are seeing increases, most counties won't be eligible to initially apply to move onto Protect Our Neighbors phase. Once communities meet the qualifications, submit a surge mitigation plan and are approved by the state, they will be able to allow 50% capacity at certain events with no more than 500 people in one setting at a time. The next phase also allows local governments to have more control over their own COVID-19 recovery plans.

Garfield County Public Health announced last week they will not be eligible to move to the next phase after they saw cases spike after the Memorial Day weekend. 

Those counties who will stay in the Safer at Home in the Vast, Great Outdoors phase can apply for variances. CDPHE officials said those who go to Protect Our Neighbors must be prepared to rollback orders if they see increases, outbreaks or a surge in their hospital systems. 

Red Flag Warnings for Pitkin, Eagle Counties

Tuesday, July 7 - Pitkin and Eagle counties enacted Red Flag fire warnings for both today and tomorrow (Tuesday, July 7 and Wednesday, July 8). Both counties also have Stage 2 fire restrictions in place, which prohibits any type of open flame. Those restrictions apply to campgrounds, public picnic areas and private property. More information can be found on Eagle and Pitkin county websites. 

2020 Rescue Fund Covers Uninsured COVID-19 Tests At Aspen Valley Hospital

Monday, July 6 - The Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation has received a $470,000 grant from the 2020 Rescue Fund from the Aspen Community Foundation to provide COVID-19 tests.

Aspen Valley Hospital officials said the grant will help cover nearly 3,000 COVID-19 tests and support Pitkin County Public Health's 'Roadmap to Reopening' plan. The money will also go toward providing tests for vulnerable and at-risk populations. 

Hospital officials said the ability to test more individuals "to detect, evaluate and control an outbreak is essential to the reopening process."

City of Glenwood Springs Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19

Monday, July 6 - An employee of the Glenwood Springs' Parks and Recreation department tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday at Valley View Hospital. The Community Center, where the employee worked at the pool, will be closed until further notice.

The employee and other workers in their immediate work area are self-isolating. The employee had taken time off before the holiday and last worked at the community center on July 1. Garfield County Public Health officials are contact tracing with the employee.

People with questions should contact the county's public health office via email or call 970-945-6614 in Glenwood Springs or 970-625-5200 in Rifle.

Pitkin County Epidemiologist Says COVID-19 Cases In Visitors Can Be Hard To Track

Sunday, July 5 - Josh Vance, Pitkin County epidemiologist, said it can be difficult for the county to identify cases in visitors and emphasized the continued importance of practicing safety measures.

If a person tests positive for the virus, their case is handled by their county of residence. Contact tracers in that person’s home county would take charge of identifying and contacting people they could have exposed to the virus, even if that exposure occurred in Pitkin County.

“It does make it trickier at times to really track who are all those people that have had COVID that have been here,” Vance said in an interview with Aspen Public Radio. “Oftentimes they're here for a little bit, they leave and we never knew they were here and infectious.”

County health officials have seen cases that originated with an out-of-town visitor, and Vance said he expects that trend to continue. Vance also said continued practicing of precautionary safety measures is still imporant. 

"Practice social distancing," Vance said. "Wear a mask at all times and operate under that assumption that everyone around you may have may have this virus. No one is immune, that we know of, to this thing."