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UPDATES: Roaring Fork Valley Coronavirus: May 17-23, 2020

May 21, 2020

Residents line up to receive food donations in Basalt.
Credit Tammy Terwelp / Aspen Public Radio

State Officials Encourage Residents To Celebrate Memorial Day With Safety In Mind

Friday, May 22 - Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, public health officials are asking Coloradans to keep the following in mind to slow and limit transmission of COVID-19. 

  • Maintain six feet of physical distancing.
  • Keep groups small (under 10 people).
  • Wear a face-covering when around others.
  • Keep it as local as possible. Avoid any grocery stores, gas stations or other important community resources outside of your immediate home area.
  • Check out COTREX to see what trails, trailheads, and activities are permissible on state and federal public lands, and what isn’t crowded.  

Aspen Valley Hospital Debuts 'Capacity Matrix'

Thursday, May 21 - Aspen Valley Hospital will monitor its status using a set of criteria unveiled on Thursday. The chart measures three main statistical categories — the number of patients at the hospital, the number of people visiting the emergency department and respiratory evaluation tent and the number of hospital workers who are home with COVID-like symptoms.

Using those three statistical categories, the hospital will establish a status of "comfortable," "cautious," or "concerned." If conditions reach the highest level, they could suggest more restrictive public health measures.

The Aspen Valley Hospital capacity matrix was presented in Pitkin County's virtual community meeting on Thursday.
Credit Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Aspen Airport Preps For Increase In Travelers

Thursday, May 21 - Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is installing a number of measures aimed at protecting the health and safety of travelers and employees as it prepares for an uptick in travelers expected as the community gradually reopens. Airport director John Kinney explained some of the updates in a video.

A full list of health and safety measures, such as barriers in restrooms and markings to promote distancing in lines, can be found in a press release from the county

Eagle County To Update Public Health Order On May 25

Thursday, May 21 - Eagle County is updating its public health order regarding COVID-19. In alignment with the county’s "transition trail map," the move to the “blue” phase is anticipated to take place on May 25. The county has also unveiled a new "business toolkit" to help local businesses with the transition into the next phase. 

Eagle County's ability to implement the new public health order is dependent on state approval of a variance request. The county submitted the request to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on May 11 but has not yet received a response, according to a press release The state could approve, approve with conditions, or deny the request.

Pitkin County Hosts Virtual Community Meeting Thursday

Thursday, May 21 -The latest public health data and other community COVID-19 information will be shared at a virtual public meeting today at 4:00 p.m. 

Watch on the county's website. The meeting will also be available  on Comcast CGTV Channel 11, GrassRoots TV channel 12 and HD 880.

Pitkin County Emergency Funding To Focus On Most Needy 

Thursday, May 21 - As Pitkin County gradually reopens and some residents return to work, the county said emergency funding will funding will "focus on those who continue to be unable to work or collect unemployment and who remain truly in need of emergency relief."

Previously, officials urged anyone who needed assistance to apply.  In the two months since the COVID-19 community shutdown began, nearly 3,000 adults and 500 children under 18 have received emergency funding, the county said in a press release. Nearly $2.3 million was distributed in emergency relief. 

Applications for economic assistance can be found on the county's website

Firework Use Banned In Unincorporated Garfield County

Thursday, May 21 - ​An ordinance prohibiting the use of fireworks in unincorporated Garfield County has been adopted to help protect public safety during the approaching wildfire season. In a press release, the county said the measure is “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

The ordinance is in place for all of 2020, apart from June 1 through July 5, which is exempted per state law. The ordinance covers the banned use of fireworks, not the sale. The county can cancel the ordinance at any time, if favorable conditions are in place, such as during winter.

Fire Officials Clarify Areas With Restrictions, Urge The Public To Be Safe With Fire

Wednesday, May 20 - As  fire restrictions ease in some areas of the Roaring Fork Valley, officials are reminding residents to be safe with fire and know which areas continue to be under Stage 1 fire restrictions. 

Areas with continued Stage 1 fire restrictions include all Bureau of Land Management lands in Garfield and Pitkin Counties, BLM land in Eagle County within the Roaring Fork Valley and private lands within Garfield and Pitkin counties.

Areas lifting fire restrictions include the Aspen-Sopris, Eagle-Holy Cross and Rifle ranger districts of the White River National Forest.

Land managers say the public should practice extreme caution in areas where fires are allowed and ensure campfires are completely out before leaving camp. 

Town Of Carbondale Passes Ordinance Requiring Face Masks 

Wednesday, May 20 - The Town of Carbondale announced Wednesday the Board of Trustees passed an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings or masks in public spaces effective immediately. 

Public spaces are defined by town officials as inside businesses where public contact is likely, within public seating or waiting areas and within all portions of retail, grocery and restaurant businesses that are accessible by customers.

There are exemptions for children under the age of two, those for whom face coverings cause a breathing impairment and those working in an office who do not have face-to-face interactions.

Violations for the ordinance include $50 for a first time offense and $100 for a second offense. 

City Of Aspen Resumes Paid Parking June 1

Wednesday, May 20 - The City of Aspen announced Wednesday paid parking will resume Monday, June 1 at discounted rates along with some free parking zones.

Downtown parking spaces charged at $2 an hour will be enforced from 10-11 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Spaces at $4 per hour will be charged from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sundays are free to park downtown. Parking outside the downtown core in parking garages and residential zones will be free. 

City of Aspen officials said traffic into town has increased recently. An avergage of 550 cars have been parked in the downtown area at 1 p.m. with an overall capacity of 682 cars. Officials said as more businesses open, they expect more people visiting and an increase in the number of vehicles parked in town. 

Eagle County Lifts Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

Wednesday, May 20 - Eagle County officials are lifting the COVID-19 enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions beginning today. 

County officials said conditions remain dry, so responsibility is always needed when using campfires even when there are no fire restrictions. 

The Stage 1 fire restrictions were originally put into place due to staffing and health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Snowmass Rodeo and Summer Advantage Program Cancelled Due To COVID-19

Tuesday, May 19 - Today the Snowmass Rodeo announced the cancellation of its 2020 summer season due to coronavirus. Rodeo organizers launched this video about the cancellation, and annoucned plans to resume the event for 2021.

Roaring Fork Schools, Summit 54, and Summer Advantage USA also announced that its summer programming would be cancelled for this year. The organizations plan to resume programming next year.

Gov. Polis Announces Expanded Testing Capacity

Monday, May 18 - Governor Polis announced that Colorado has reached a critical goal, and now has the supplies and capacity to test anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. Polis provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the STRIDE Community Health Center in Wheat Ridge, where he himself got tested for the virus.

“Getting tested is a crucial part of our response to this virus, and I’m proud to say that any Coloradan who is showing symptoms, can and should get tested,” Polis said. “This ensures that infected individuals get the care they need, and prevent spreading the virus to others."

Aspen Seeks Input On Restaurants And Storefronts Expanding Into Streets

Monday, May 18  - The City of Aspen is seeking the public’s input on expanding restaurant and storefront activity into the streets in order to increase the number of customers served within health order guidelines. 

Residents can share their thoughts via the city's online survey, which is open until noon on May 25. Expansion into downtown streets would not begin until June. 

Garfield County Requests To Open Businesses

Sunday, May 17 - The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners sent a varience request Friday to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to open local businesses. 

The county is seeking permission to open restaurants, places of worship, fitness facilities and gyms at 50% occupancy. The request also includes opening recreation areas and large tourist attractions at 30% occupancy. 

The county states it has seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks. The request also includes documentation from local hospitals saying they will be able to safely treat any patients requiring hospitalization without resorting to crisis standards of care. 

Garfield County said in the varience request to the state that the opening of businesses will not eliminate the protections of county residents in the state's Safer at Home Order. The county said it will continue to monitor and collect data of COVID-19 cases.