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Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Last week, a backcountry skier was critically injured in an avalanche near Ophir, Colorado, about 20 minutes south of Telluride. More than 50 people were involved in the rescue. Local health and ski industry officials have urged backcountry adventurers to take extra caution so as to avoid putting an extra burden on already-strained first responders and healthcare facilities.

Just being homeless puts you at greater risk for getting and spreading COVID-19. And several homeless residents have tested positive for the disease around the Mountain West, from Denver to Las Vegas. That’s forcing community leaders and shelter owners to take precautions.

 


Updated March 31, 8:25 p.m. ET

A few months ago, it may have seemed silly to wear a face mask during a trip to the grocery store. And in fact, the mainline public health message in the U.S. from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been that most people don't need to wear masks.

But as cases of the coronavirus have skyrocketed, there's new thinking about the benefits that masks could offer in slowing the spread. The CDC says it is now reviewing its policy and may be considering a recommendation to encourage broader use.

Connect For Health Colorado

 

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, Colorado is one of eleven states that have made the move to re-open health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Coloradans who are currently uninsured or think they might lose their job can enroll in health insurance through Friday, April 3. 

Local insurance broker Michael Sailor said anyone considering signing up should not wait until Friday.

Lauri Jackson / Aspen Public Radio

Aspen Public Radio has compiled the following list of local, state and national resources that are providing current, trustworthy coronavirus information. 

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.  

“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.”

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."

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.

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. 

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.”

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.

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. 

Wiki Images

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or CDPHE, is restricting all visitors at skilled nursing, assisted living, and intermediate care facilities in order to protect the health of residents and employees. 

 

Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living

COVID-19 is spreading in the Roaring Fork Valley, and older adults are particularly vulnerable. One assisted living facility is already taking steps to help protect their residents. 

Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living in Aspen is implementing measures to keep residents and staff safe against the coronavirus outbreak, including monitoring staff and residents temperatures, and not allowing family members or volunteers into the building. 

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County officials are emphasizing the importance of a community mitigation strategy that includes closures and social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

“What we’re trying to prevent is explosive transmission,” said Pitkin County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann in a briefing Friday. “We don’t want to overwhelm our health care system.”

C.S. Goldsmith and A. Tamin / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Coronavirus control strategy at state and county levels is moving toward social distancing, a practice focused on limiting contact between people in efforts to stem transmission. 

That marks a shift away from the previous approach of contact tracing, which aims to identify people who have been in contact with known positive cases of the disease.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Updated: March 11, 2:42 p.m. 

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) has confirmed that six additional people who were in contact with the Australian visitor have tested presumptively positive for coronavirus.  

 

 

These additional positive results are in addition to the previous three positive tests that were announced earlier Wednesday.  This brings the number of positive tests in Pitkin County to nine. There is still one test outstanding. 

Centers for Disease Control

Public health officials say it's likely more cases of coronavirus will be identified across the state in the coming days.

In a briefing Monday, Pitkin County health officials stressed the importance of staying informed with reliable sources of information. More information on their website addresses frequently asked questions, gives advice on preparedness and offers guidelines to those in industries from health care to hospitality. 

Tammy Terwelp / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County public health officials said Monday that 13 visitors to Aspen are currently under self-isolation after coming into contact with a 21-year old Australian woman who tested positive for COVID-19 in her home country after visiting Aspen.

Those 13 people, all of Australian nationality, traveled to the area with the young woman who developed the new coronavirus. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or CDPHE, said Sunday afternoon that a woman in her twenties who was visiting Aspen returned home to Australia earlier this week, where she tested positive for COVID-19.

The individual had contact with Aspen residents and visitors at social gatherings; some of the people who had contact with the woman have reported experiencing respiratory symptoms.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Eagle County Public Health and Environment is reporting the first positive case of COVID-19, or coronavirus, in the county. 

The patient is a woman in her 50s visiting the area and likely exposed during international travel. The patient was not hospitalized and is recovering in isolation. The patient is working with public health officials in the ongoing investigation to identify people that may have had close exposure. The case is presumptive positive, which means test results haven’t yet been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

 

Colorado has its first two "presumptive positive" cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the latest coronavirus. State health officials on Thursday confirmed an out-of-state visitor to Summit County has tested positive.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado currently has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but Pitkin County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann said officials are taking precautions should the illness arrive in the area. 

“We really do believe it's not if, it's when, we will have cases in Colorado,” Koenemann said. “We may have cases in Pitkin County. And so I think just being aware and being prepared for that is where we're at right now.”

 

 

As the case count of coronavirus infections continues to rise in China, the number of reported infections among children is remarkably low.

"We're seeing [about] 75,000 total cases at this point, but the literature is only reporting about 100 or so pediatric cases," says Terri Lynn Stillwell, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

 

Colorado consistently ranks in the top 10 states with the highest suicide rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the problem is particularly bad in the Roaring Fork Valley, say mental health providers. 

That’s why about 20 people gathered at the Glenwood Springs Library in January to learn how to help others who might be dealing with a panic attack or considering suicide.  

 

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

Novel coronavirus, a respiratory illness, has been making headlines around the world, leading to fears about its spread. Pitkin County health officials say risk of contracting the virus is low, especially for those without a history of travel to areas where it is being spread.

Center for Disease Control

Garfield County is increasing efforts to get people vaccinated in the face of a hepatitis A outbreak in Colorado.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection that typically affects drug users, people experiencing homelessness and men who are sexually active with other men. The risk of illness to the general public is low. It causes nausea and vomiting for weeks or even months. 

 

https://pitkincounty.com/265/Radon / Pitkin County

  

Nearly half of all Colorado homes have levels of radon above the Environmental Protection Agency's standards. January is National Radon Action Month, and Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle Counties are offering free radon home test-kits.  

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