Listen Live

Coronavirus News

Aspen Public Radio will provide the latest news and updates regarding the coronavirus, COVID-19, in the valley and Colorado.

Support for Updates: Coronavirus comes from Penney Evans Carruth with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby's International Realty, opening doors for buyers and sellers in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Amid COVID Health Worker Shortage, Foreign-Trained Professionals Sit on Sidelines

20 hours ago
Brandon Thibodeaux / KHN

As hospitals nationwide struggle with the latest COVID-19 surge, it’s not so much beds or ventilators in short supply. It’s the people to care for the sick.

Yet a large, highly skilled workforce of foreign-educated doctors, nurses and other health practitioners is going largely untapped due to licensing and credentialing barriers. According to the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington, D.C., some 165,000 foreign-trained immigrants in the U.S. hold degrees in health-related fields but are unemployed or underemployed in the midst of the health crisis.

Faced with complaints the initial vaccine distribution in Colorado has disproportionately favored white residents in wealthier neighborhoods, state officials have announced several new efforts aimed at making the inoculation effort more equitable.

The plan includes requiring vaccine providers to report demographic data for those getting shots, multi-lingual advertisements aimed at reducing vaccine hesitancy and establishing new pop-up vaccine clinics in areas with more low-income residents and people of color.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County has the highest incidence rate of COVID-19 in all of Colorado, nearly double that of the next highest county. Those alarmingly high numbers have sparked strict public health measures and strained contact tracers – but experts cannot pin down what’s driving the spike.

UPDATE: Judge Denies Restaurant Owners' Challenge to Pitkin County Ban on Indoor Dining

Jan 15, 2021
Eleanor Bennett/Aspen Public Radio News

UPDATED 7 p.m. Friday: A judge denied the request from the Pitkin County Restaurant Alliance, meaning the indoor dining ban will go into effect on Sunday as originally planned.

 

A group of Pitkin County restaurant owners are trying to block tighter restrictions set by the county’s Board of Health that would ban indoor dining. Court papers filed Thursday evening in Pitkin County District Court challenge that ban, set to take effect on Sunday, Jan. 17. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

A new health order in Pitkin County will ban indoor dining and tighten restrictions on hotels and rental units beginning Sunday. The new rules, voted into effect by the Board of Health on Monday, come as the county’s soaring coronavirus rates rank second-worst in Colorado. 

Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital

Roaring Fork Valley health leaders say high levels of local demand for coronavirus vaccines are outpacing new shipments of doses from the state. That is partially due to recent and sudden changes to the state’s priority guidelines, which made people 70 years of age or older eligible for the vaccine.

Courtesy Nevada Public Health

Dulce Leyva is a bilingual contact tracer who lives in Reno, Nevada. Her job is to reach out to people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and make sure they're self-isolating. And she tries to help them remember who they've been around and could have been exposed to the virus.

 

With COVID-19 cases still soaring across the U.S., it can be tempting to just ride the winter out on the couch, binging on Netflix. But psychologists say it's important in 2021 for us all to keep up human contact.

Snowstorms, holidays and general inexperience in handling a pandemic response is to blame for a "lag" in the number of Americans so far vaccinated for the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials.

The federal government previously estimated that 20 million Americans would receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine by the end of the year. But as 2020, a year defined by the coronavirus pandemic, comes to a close on Thursday, the government appears set to fall well short of that goal.

Colorado has changed its vaccine distribution plan to give higher priority to residents who are 70 years or older, along with essential frontline workers.

Gov. Jared Polis says the vaccines for older Coloradans are starting now in counties that have completed distributing their first doses to frontline health care workers.

Polis estimates it should take about four to five weeks to get the vaccines to any Coloradan aged 70 or older who wants it.

Rae Ellen Bichell / KUNC

Updated at 12:58 p.m. Wednesday

State health officials say a Colorado National Guard member has the country’s first confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7. that some scientists say is more contagious. This is the same variant discovered in the United Kingdom. According to a news release, the Colorado State Laboratory confirmed and notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the finding.

For months, the warning was clear from economists, housing advocates and public health experts: Without more help from Congress, millions of Americans could be evicted, in the dead of winter, in the middle of a raging pandemic.

"I can't construct a darker scenario," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told NPR in November. "It's absolutely critical that lawmakers step up."

Updated at 9:21 p.m. ET

President Trump is threatening to derail a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress on Monday after months of bitter negotiations.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County moved to "Red Level" restrictions Tuesday after exponential increases in local rates of coronavirus. Under the new rules, personal gatherings can only happen with people in the same household, offices and gyms are capped at 10% capacity and restaurants are limited to 25%. Last call is at 9:30 p.m. and they must close at 10 p.m. 

Updated Tuesday at 11:40 a.m. ET

The Senate acted swiftly Monday night, in a 92-6 vote, to approve more than $900 billion for coronavirus assistance, shortly after the House of Representatives passed the package. The aid comes after months of partisan sniping over what elements should be in a relief measure that virtually all lawmakers on Capitol Hill argued was long overdue.

Updated at 2:05 p.m. ET

Vice President Pence, second lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams received a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday at the White House in a televised event aimed at showing the vaccine is safe and effective.

Pence, wearing a short-sleeve dress shirt, pushed up his sleeve to get the vaccine. He appeared to be smiling underneath his mask and did not watch as he was administered the vaccine by a member of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

"I didn't feel a thing! Well done!" Pence said after getting the shot.

Courtesy of Valley View Hospital

The first batch of coronavirus vaccines has arrived in the Roaring Fork Valley, heralded by many as the beginning of an end to the global pandemic that has infected thousands in the area, and created nearly a year of frustration and hardship for local businesses and their employees.

Hungarian-born scientist Katalin Karikó believed in the potential of messenger RNA — the genetic molecule at the heart of two new COVID-19 vaccines — even when almost no one else did.

Karikó began working with RNA as a student in Hungary. When funding for her job there ran out, Kariko immigrated to Philadelphia in 1985. Over the years, she's been rejected for grant after grant, threatened with deportation and demoted from her faculty job by a university that saw her research as a dead end.

Through it all, Karikó just kept working.

In a 20-0 vote, with one abstention, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna be authorized for emergency use in adults during the pandemic.

If the agency authorizes the vaccine for emergency use, as is expected, it would become the second to be deployed in the U.S to fight the coronavirus.

The vote in favor of the vaccine was taken to answer the agency's question: Do the benefits of the Moderna vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people age 18 and older?

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

The Food and Drug Administration released a detailed analysis Tuesday morning of the COVID-19 vaccine from drugmaker Moderna that supports the authorization of the company's vaccine for emergency use.

The FDA's briefing document along with one from Moderna were posted two days before a group of experts will convene to advise the agency on whether to grant the vaccine emergency authorization for use, or EUA, during the pandemic.

Jim Clarke / Associated Press

Colorado received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday as part of the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history.

Government workers in Colorado are busy this month building the new websites and application forms that will let residents get their share of more than $240 million in coronavirus relief approved by lawmakers during a special session.

“This stuff is working at breakneck speed, so we’re working as quickly as we can to get this up,” said Brett McPherson, a spokesman for the Department of Local Affairs.

Courtesy of Dr. Brooke Allen

Throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, rates of new COVID-19 cases continue to rise. New cases transmitted over Thanksgiving are just beginning to trickle into county data, exacerbating virus rates that were already higher than any other point in the pandemic.

Updated at 8:22 p.m. ET

In a 17-4 vote, with one abstention, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended Thursday that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech be authorized for emergency use during the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote in favor of the vaccine was taken to answer the agency's question: Do the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people age 16 and older?

The agency typically follows the advice of its expert advisers.

The general public will probably have to wait until summer 2021 to get a coronavirus vaccine, according to a new distribution plan Gov. Jared Polis and top public health officials unveiled on Wednesday.

The plan includes three phases. Hospital workers who treat COVID-19 patients, nursing home residents and their caretakers are first in line for the vaccine, which could arrive as soon as Monday.

Note: This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. ET Monday, Jan. 25, and will be updated periodically, as new data are released.

The federal government on Monday released an updated set of detailed hospital-level data showing the toll COVID-19 is taking on health care facilities, including how many inpatient and ICU beds are available on a weekly basis.

The Food and Drug Administration released a detailed analysis Tuesday morning of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech ahead of a Thursday meeting of a group of independent experts that will advise the agency on whether to grant the vaccine an emergency use authorization.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Coronavirus rates appear to have slightly slowed their breakneck rise in all three Roaring Fork Valley counties, but local health experts say it may only be a momentary blip amid virus levels that are still worse than any other phase of the pandemic.

Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

Colorado lawmakers passed a state-funded stimulus package worth more than $200 million during a three-day special session that stayed mostly cordial and bipartisan.

They also gave Gov. Jared Polis an additional $100 million to respond to the pandemic and rejected Republican lawmakers’ attempts to limit Polis’ power to issue more executive orders during the virus outbreak.

Pages