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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.

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County Holds Virtual Community Meeting Thursday

Wednesday, April 1- Pitkin County will hold a virtual community meeting Thursday at 2:00 pm. This meeting will be led by the Pitkin Sheriff's Office, Aspen Valley Hospital, Pitkin County Public Health  and the Hope Center. 

Aspen Public Radio will broadcast the meeting on our FM frequencies at 91.5 in Aspen and 88.9 in Carbondale.  

Garfield County

 

 

The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners voted Friday to fund Grand River Meals on Wheels in the amount of $40,000 to sustain home delivery meal services to homebound clients. 

 

The vote came as the need for social distancing measures around COVID-19 has driven up participation in the program 20% since early March.

 

“The snow’s going sideways, it’s swirling,” said Billy Barr, from the abandoned silver mine he lives in almost 10,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains.

We’re all social distancing these days, and it’s unclear when exactly that will end. But Barr has been doing this for almost 50 years. He’s the only full-time resident of Gothic, Colorado. 

“I'm the mayor and chief of police,” he said. “I hold elections every year but I don't tell anybody when they are, so it works out really well.”

Electricity Use Drops Nearly 10% As Ski Lifts Close Early

Mar 29, 2020
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Journalism

Stay-at-home orders and closed businesses, combined with an abrupt end to the ski season, are changing the electricity consumption and demand patterns for Holy Cross Energy, which supplies electricity to much of the Roaring Fork and Eagle river valleys.

Courtesy of Stephen Stacey

Stephen Stacey moved to Glenwood Springs three years ago with his daughter. He said they live a simple life, and love to fish. 

 “Glenwood Springs is a great place to live if you love to fish,” he said. “The only town in the United States of America that has two gold medal rivers in the town boundary.”

As the graph below shows, the number of COVID-19 cases reported by public health agencies in the Mountain West is climbing. But what do those numbers actually say? 

Gov. Jared Polis is defending his decision to issue a stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic.

During a news conference Friday, he said state health officials told him that if he didn't take aggressive action to keep residents isolated from one another, COVID-19 could kill as many as 33,000 Coloradans by June 1.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin, Eagle Counties Report Second Deaths of Residents, Garfield County Says One Has Died

 

Garfield County Public Health says that one resident, a woman in her 70’s who tested positive for COVID-19, has died. The woman had other significant health conditions.

 Garfield County released a statement saying it "extends deep condolences to the family members of the woman for their loss."

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Aspen Valley Hospital has admitted 10 patients with symptoms of COVID-19 since the outbreak began. Two are currently at the hospital; one is in critical condition. In Pitkin County’s online community meeting Thursday, Dave Ressler, the hospital’s CEO, said patient volumes are light but they are seeing sicker patients than before.

Courtesy Shea Sweeney

Shea Sweeney is a single mom of two in Aspen. Her 13-year-old son came down with a fever and a cough last Tuesday. A video call with a doctor ended with a diagnosis, and they’ve been isolated ever since.

Garfield County Public Libraries

Pitkin, Basalt and Garfield County libraries’ doors are closed, but they’re still open for browsing online.

Garfield County Libraries are offering a new streaming movie and eBook service called Hoopla. Hoopla offers audiobooks, streaming TV shows and TumbleBooks, animated, talking picture books for kids. 

"I definitely wanted the public to have access to this as soon as possible," said Brett Lear, executive director of Garfield County Libraries.

 

Alex Hager

While shops and restaurants around the Roaring Fork Valley have shut their doors to slow the spread of coronavirus, healthcare workers are gearing up for an overload. Dr. Ben Peery, a physician in the emergency department at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said medical school doesn’t prepare doctors for situations like this one. 

Eleanor Bennett

Usually El Korita Restaurant in Willits is buzzing with energy, no matter the night of the week. Families singing happy birthday, a crowd of people at the bar ordering margaritas and a line of locals out the door, waiting for a table. 

On a recent day, though, restaurant owner Tito Gamboa was the only one there. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County Public Health has issued a stay-at-home order; the new restrictions are meant to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting contact between people. 

The order requires people to remain at home unless conducting essential business like grocery shopping, picking up medicine or exercise. It also directs tourists visiting the area to head home and closes non-essential businesses. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado’s ski resorts are closed by order of the Governor, but some adventurous residents are still “uphilling” by hiking or skinning up the slopes. On Friday, Vail Resorts shut down uphill access at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte. Sunlight Mountain in Glenwood Springs did the same Sunday.

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

The Food and Wine Classic in Aspen is cancelled this year.

Hunter Lewis, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, made the announcement Monday, saying the decision was made out of concern for the safety of the restaurant community “and the world beyond it.”

Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado public schools are closed until at least April 17, so Aspen School District is rolling out virtual learning for its students beginning April 1. 

Students will access content on their own time and work at their own pace, instead of teachers and students meeting online in real-time each day. 

Google Maps

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is providing guidelines on when those with COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should call 9-1-1 and when they should call a primary care physician. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

UPDATE: We've moved to doing weekly updates since information is changing rapidly. Find them here.
 

Updated: Saturday, March 21, 3:30 p.m. 

Eagle County Public Health and Environment has confirmed the first death of an Eagle County resident from COVID-19. The patient was a male in his 60s with underlying health conditions. He died at a Denver-area hospital. 

 “It is with a heavy heart that we are confirming the loss of one of our community members from COVID-19. We are extremely saddened by the news and extend our deepest condolences to the family,” said Heath Harmon, Director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment.  “The news of this loss in our community serves as a solemn reminder that COVID-19 can pose greater risks to some members of our community, in particular older adults and people with pre-existing health conditions. We must all take steps to protect our families, ourselves, our friends, and our community.”

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Updated: March 20, 2020

The Aspen Skiing Company has announced that they will close all mountains for the remainder of the 2019-2020 ski season. 

The company says this is in response to Governor Jared Polis extending an order that closed all Colorado ski resorts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Polis announced Wednesday that resorts were to remain closed through April 6. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

The Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) is reducing its service even further starting Monday due to the coronavirus health crisis. 

RFTA says it is making the adjustment due to fewer riders, staffing constraints and the need to disinfect buses throughout each day. 

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

The rolling ski hills under Buttermilk’s Tiehack lift are typically a popular spot for uphillers. But since the coronavirus outbreak, and Governor Jared Polis ordering the closure of all Colorado resorts through at least April 6, the route up to the top is even busier than usual with a steady stream of skinners and hikers going up daily.  

via United States Census Bureau

The census is underway across the nation, taking a headcount to determine how resources, funding, and congressional seats are allocated. Due to coronavirus, some in-person counting efforts will be put on hold, but online, mail and phone responses are still going on as planned.

To help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Jared Polis has ordered the suspension of in-person learning at all public and private schools across the state from March 23 to April 17.

Earlier Wednesday, Polis stressed that teachers would still use online tools to continue teaching classes.

Garfield RE-2 School District / Facebook

While the Garfield RE-2 School District is closed until April 17, at the earliest, due to COVID-19, the district has been working to still provide free breakfast and lunch to its students.

Thursday, March 18 is the last day for students in Rifle, Silt and New Castle to get those meals since spring break technically begins Friday. Local organizations LIFT-UP and the River Center will provide mobile lunch services during the break.

CreativeCommons

Recent orders from Gov. Jared Polis have shut down bars and restaurants and ski mountains in Colorado, schools are closing and health officials are encouraging people to stay home as much as possible. Many Roaring Fork Valley residents may be feeling anxiety and stress during this time of COVID-19.

Tammy Terwelp / Aspen Public Radio

Governor Jared Polis has issued a public health order with new, aggressive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 Gatherings and events are now limited to no more than 10 people.  Retail stores are allowed to remain open with fewer than 10 people in the store at once. Restaurants can still have take-out service, but only five or fewer people can wait for food at a time.   The new order will run through April 17. 

Governor Jared Polis said Tuesday that all public schools will be closed until April 17. The executive order directs Colorado school districts and the Charter School Institute to work to provide alternative learning opportunities during this time.

Aspen Pitkin County Airport / Facebook

The Aspen Pitkin County Airport is a primary way residents and visitors travel to and from the Roaring Fork Valley. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the airport is taking steps to keep travelers and workers safe. 

via Pitkin County

Health officials and community leaders livestreamed answers to questions from residents about COVID-19 during a Pitkin County community meeting Monday. Local leaders emphasized the importance of social distancing to stem the spread of the virus, and they provided updates on topics ranging from testing for coronavirus to getting food to people who need it.

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