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Coronavirus Updates

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

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

This week the governors of Colorado and Nevada joined West Coast states in something called the Western States Pact. Its stated aim is to bring together states with a “shared vision for modifying stay at home orders and fighting COVID-19.” 

The U.S. now has at least three such regional collaborations. 

via Pitkin County Public Health

Pitkin County health officials laid out the specifics of the next public health order and the county’s contact tracing operation in an emergency public health meeting on Thursday. The next public health order will closely align with the state’s latest policies, but include a few specific exceptions.


This story is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

It's a sunny, spring afternoon and Holly Spriggs and her teenage son, Sawyer Michaud, are digging around in her giant garden outside of Lander, Wyo.

"We're working on planting some potatoes and onions before we get some moisture here," she says. 

Spriggs is having a great time, but Sawyer would rather be snowmobiling.

Connect For Health Colorado

 

Due to COVID-19, Colorado has extended the emergency enrollment period for health insurance until the end of month. Thursday is the last day for residents who are currently uninsured to enroll in health insurance. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

The first rollbacks to restrictive statewide orders go into effect on Monday, April 27. Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced a transition to a new “Safer-at-Home” policy. The measures include a gradual return normal life, with a timeline for retailers and other businesses to reopen with specific precautions in place. Some rules will differ by county as local governments set their own pace for a return to normal life.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Operations are more or less normal at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff are wearing extra protective equipment, but they are not overwhelmed. David Brooks, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said the fact that things are relatively calm is a direct result of people staying home. 

Courtesy of Kyle Nelson

As a 911 dispatcher, Kyle Nelson is used to busy days. But Thursday was an unusually hectic one at the Pitkin County Incident Management Team headquarters, where he’s working during the pandemic. The team had planned to participate in a livestreamed public health meeting and roll out plans to start testing residents for COVID-19. What they didn’t plan for was a heavy snowfall – at one point 1-2 inches per hour – that led to messy roads and a flood of calls to emergency dispatchers. 

Eleanor Bennett / Aspen Public Radio

Glenwood Springs Extends Public Building Closure and Face Mask Requirement, Reinstates Bus and Airport Services

Friday, May 1 - Glenwood Spring's city council voted unanimously today to require face coverings be worn in public; that order is now set to expire on June 4. City Manager Debra Figueroa also extended to closure of public buildings within the city until May 27.

COVID Diaries Colorado: A Day In The Pandemic

Apr 26, 2020

 

A teacher greets her students. An imam counsels his congregants. A firefighter reports for duty. New parents take their baby home from the hospital.

Testing is considered a major requirement on the path back to normal, and as the president has made clear, it's largely up to the states to find the way. Are states in the Mountain West up to the task? By multiple measures, Utah and New Mexico are leading the way, while other states are still lagging behind. 

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Pitkin County officials laid out a new plan to find COVID-19 cases and slow the spread of the virus in a virtual community meeting Thursday. Karen Koenemann, the county’s director of public health, outlined the “Box it in” strategy, which will use testing, quarantining, contact tracing and isolation as a means of combating coronavirus. 

Courtesy The Arts Campus at Willits

 

 


With performing arts venues shut down due to coronavirus and stay-at-home orders, The Arts Campus at Willits, or TACAW, has been curating virtual and live performances.

How have you been spending your time while you're stuck at home? What's made you feel less stressed during the COVID-19 pandemic? In between virtual meetings and working remotely, we asked that same question of the Aspen Public Radio team. Here's our reading, listening, and viewing list to get you through this next phase of social distancing.

Mobile Intercultural Resource Alliance / Facebook

The Mobile Intercultural Resource Alliance (MIRA) is offering a second day of free COVID-19 testing in El Jebel Thursday. The organization tested 48 people last week. 

Melina Valsecia, the community connector and manager at MIRA said they want to make sure they can test as many people as they can to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Eagle County. 

Kendall Reiley / Glenwood Springs Elementary School

For Kendall Reiley, a fifth grade teacher at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, the first week of working virtually with students had her feeling, well, hopeful. 

Allergy season is here. For many of us, that means lots of sneezing and itchy eyes. So how can you tell the difference between seasonal allergies and something more serious, like COVID-19?

How are wildland firefighters expected to battle blazes during a pandemic? That's not entirely clear, but a bipartisan bill proposed by Mountain West lawmakers aims to help ensure firefighters' safety.

Pitkin County Incident Management Team

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Governor Jared Polis discussed lifting the stay-at-home order on April 27. He also discussed next steps as health and safety restrictions change in the coming days and weeks.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

During the first week of April, new unemployment claims across Colorado were up 3836% from last year’s average. According to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, nearly 200,000 new claims have been filed statewide since the coronavirus pandemic began.

In the tiny mountain town of Ophir in southwest Colorado, residents riding out the coronavirus pandemic at home are sending another round of thank you notes to Brian Morgan, who worked tirelessly to get the community connected to high-speed internet just two years ago.

Creative Commons

  

Roaring Fork Valley non-profit MANAUS is giving financial support to immigrant families to help them make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Friday, the organization had ensured $1,000 to 377 immigrant families in the Valley.

There’s been too much oil on the market since well before the coronavirus outbreak. But a recent agreement to cut production won’t be enough to prevent states in the Mountain West from taking a big hit.

 


Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

Garfield County Asks Businesses To Complete Social Distancing Plan

Saturday, April 25 - In order to reopen on May 4th, 2020, businesses and agencies in Garfield County should determine if they are high, medium, or low risk, and complete and submit the “Garfield County Business Social Distancing Plan.”

Leah Aegerter

When health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses and ski resorts across the state in mid-March, Leah Aegerter suddenly found herself in a similar place as most everyone else in Colorado—at home.

Courtesy of Pitkin County Incident Management Team

Pitkin County is running a small-scale pilot program of its COVID-19 antibody testing on Friday at Aspen Village fire station. Testing is not yet open to the public; the county says Friday’s trial run will be used to gauge the accuracy of its blood tests and the efficiency of its mobile testing operation.

Eleanor Bennett / Aspen Public Radio

A group of 40 mid-valley volunteers have started the “Corona Helpline” pickup and delivery service. Outgoing Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt is the lead organizer. 

“I think folks will initially ask their friends or family to help them, but not everybody has that,” Whitsitt said. “We’ve had a great response from the people that we have helped.” 

 

There was the hiker who broke his leg, then refused to put on a mask before the alpine rescue team helped him down the mountain. There were the snowboarders and skiers packing together into cars to drive up to a closed ski area. Or the people howling at the full moon, over open flames.

Bruce Snelling, undersheriff with Clear Creek County in Colorado, said all of these incidents have happened in recent weeks. And until Saturday, there wasn’t too much he could do about it. But now, the county’s public health order lays out some harsh penalties for non-residents using county roads to get to the backcountry: a fine of up to $5,000 or up to 18 months in the county jail.  

Valley View Hospital

In crises like the Coronavirus pandemic, Roaring Fork Valley residents turn to first responders for help. But healthcare workers and emergency response teams need support too. 

As a nurse in the critical care unit at Valley View Hospital, Gail Rounce knows the anxiety of caring for COVID-19 patients firsthand. 

 

Aytu Bioscience

Pitkin County incident management team announced Tuesday the county will establish a mobile COVID-19 testing lab. The lab will be set up in the county's incident command trailer. 

Courtesy of Two Leaves and a Bud

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Basalt-based tea company Two Leaves and a Bud started thinking about how they could help. CEO Rich Rosenfeld said the decision was easy.

 “We thought, well, who needs tea? Well, healthcare facilities, senior centers, doctors offices, people who are stuck where they are, and can use a really good cup of tea,” Rosenfeld said. 

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