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Mental Health & Health

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Gov. Jared Polis announced new orders Friday afternoon limiting gatherings to 10 people from no more than two households in all counties at all three “Safer at Home” levels. The announcement comes after weeks of increased cases of COVID-19 across the state.

A newly published study out of the University of Idaho suggests that the higher perceived risk of a disease, the more likely someone is to vaccinate.

Photo courtesy of Curtis Chong

County and state public health agencies in Colorado have posted coronavirus data, public health orders and testing locations on their websites. But many of those documents, forms and graphics are inaccessible for people with vision impairments.

Courtesy of Lorena

COVID-19 has reached into Hispanic communities in every corner of Colorado, afflicting some at rates more than double their share of the population, a new analysis by the Colorado News Collaborative found.

Courtesy Office of Gov. Jared Polis

Concerned by a recent spike in coronavirus cases, Governor Jared Polis says he will extend the statewide mask mandate for a third time. That means residents will be required to wear face coverings in public at least through mid-November.

Polis says the rise in cases and hospitalizations is the most concerning uptick he has seen since early July. He's also spending an additional $15 million of federal money to help the overall state’s economic recovery. The money will spent on small business loans and food and housing assistance.

The Tri-County Health Department in Colorado is a marriage between three counties. But after 55 years together, the pandemic has them on the brink of divorce.

The relationship started with a devastating flood. Lora Thomas remembers it vividly.

“I remember sitting on Ruby Hill in Denver watching this wall of water coming down the Platte River,” said Thomas. “There were actually horses in that water that had come from a racetrack.”

Winter is coming, and COVID-19 is still here. That means socializing is about to get harder as temperatures drop and activities move indoors.

One potential tactic is to form something called a “social bubble,” also known as a “pandemic pod” or a “quaranteam.” The gist is to join forces with another family, or small group of people, and socialize exclusively with them while maintaining a safe distance from others.

For months it appeared that the Mountain West had COVID-19 somewhat under control. But now the positivity rate is skyrocketing in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Utah.

"I feel despair," says Christine Porter, an associate professor of public health at the University of Wyoming.

Antigen testing is expected to become a more common way to test for COVID-19. It looks for the virus’ surface coating, rather than pieces of its genetic material. It’s faster and easier to administer than other tests.

Could Japan Offer Lessons For Mountain West Contact Tracers?

Sep 28, 2020

Over the past few months, a number of Japanese health officials have praised their country’s contact tracing approach, saying it’s one of the “secrets” to their early success in containing COVID-19.

The controversial kind of study is called a “human challenge study” and it’s controversial because it involves researchers purposefully infecting (or “challenging”) healthy volunteers with the virus after giving them an experimental treatment or vaccine, to see if it worked.

A few years ago, Arnold Levinson and his colleagues found themselves in what he calls an ethical “pickle.”

They’d been compiling reports to distribute to Colorado schools that had participated in a state-wide anonymous survey, where students would answer questions about their drug use, food access and suicidal ideation, among other topics. The researchers had made a practice of sharing a school’s results as a courtesy for participating in the survey, but they didn’t tell them how they stacked up relative to the norm. Until 2013, when an analyst spotted something.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County is seeing a slight uptick in new COVID-19 cases among residents, the first steady increase since a spike in late July. The county has recorded fourteen new cases in the past fourteen days. Aspen Valley Hospital posted a fourteen-day positivity rate of 3.11%, well below the hospital’s threshold for concern, but the highest positivity rate in over a month.

The poll came from the Colorado Health Foundation but national polls over the past few months paint a similar picture.

Researchers recently investigated three outbreaks of COVID-19 at child care centers in Salt Lake City. Their findings are helping to fill a knowledge gap on how younger children might spread the virus.

Two of the outbreaks started after staff came to work while their sick relatives were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms at home. In the third outbreak, it’s unclear who brought it in, but in the end children in that particular outbreak seemed to have passed the virus to at least five people at home, including a parent who had to be hospitalized.

The lab going up in Boise, Idaho, will be part of a new, larger U.S. Geological Survey building. And it would test environmental DNA, or eDNA, from around the nation. That is, instead of trying to find an invasive animal, like a single mussel or fish in a lake, scientists could just sample water to test for DNA of certain species.


COVID-19 infections are waning slightly in the rural U.S., but the number of deaths there is still climbing. 


Daniel Bear lives in Kenilworth, Utah, a small community of around 200 people between Salt Lake City and Moab. Earlier this year, Bear suffered a woodworking accident that involved his hand and a tablesaw. It was messy.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

No New Cases In PitCo In Last Six Days, But Epidemiologists Warn Against Complacency

Friday, August 14 - There hasn’t been a new coronavirus case reported among Pitkin County residents for the past six days. New case numbers in Eagle and Garfield counties are also down. In Thursday’s Pitkin County community meeting, epidemiologist Josh Vance said those decreases are in line with national and statewide trends, but no reason to get complacent. 

via Pixabay

When local health staffers are alerted to new cases of coronavirus in Pitkin County, they work with infected people to figure out where they might have picked it up. 39% of cases in the county are considered “community spread,” meaning the infected person does not know where they were exposed to the virus.

A vaccine against the virus behind COVID-19 offers the only certain return to normalcy. Even so, misinformation and conspiracy theories abound – and a vaccine hasn’t even been developed yet. It’s an issue people have been trying to combat for other vaccines that do exist. Colorado researchers are taking an interesting approach to bridge the gap.

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

For Dr. Lori Drumm, the trouble began after she cancelled a rodeo in rural Deer Lodge, Mont.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County is using a study of cell phone data to figure out who is most likely to spread COVID-19 within the county. 

The numbers are a combination of how many people from a specific place are in Pitkin County and how prevalent the virus is in their home region. 

Kirsten Dobroth/Aspen Public Radio

Governor Polis, Treasurer Young Urge For Additional State Funding In Stimulus Package

Tuesday, August 4 - Governor Jared Polis and Colorado Treasurer Dave Young today sent a letter to the state's congessional delegation advocating for additional funding for Coloradans in the next stimulus package. Governor Polis and Treasurer Young stressed the importance of additional federal funding for essential services in the state as Colorado continues to mitigate the public health and economic effects of the pandemic. Areas highlighted by Governor Polis and Treasurer Young in need of financial assistance include food programs for children and families, support for child care and early childhood education, families experiencing homelessness because of the pandemic and assistance for ranchers and farmers.  The letter comes as leaders in Washington D.C. continue to debate what will be included in the next federal stimulus package.

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

A physician based in Missoula, Mont., has a message for libertarian-minded skeptics of the pandemic – cowboy up and mask up.

 


A Utah-based company called Domo is showing public health agencies in the Mountain West where their COVID-19 transmission risk is coming from. Among other things, the service uses cell phone location data to identify which counties and states visitors are coming from, and pairs it with data about how bad the local COVID-19 outbreak is there. Public health officials in Southwest Colorado say the tool has shown that at the moment, the most active people in the area are people normally based in Texas, followed by people usually based in Arizona. 

Hannah A Bullock; Azaibi Tamin / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

You can find an English-language version of this story here. 

Hace un mes, Annell, que trabaja como ama de llaves en el Valle de Roaring Fork, dio positivo por COVID-19 después de haber estado expuesta en el trabajo. Aspen Public Radio sólo usa su nombre para proteger su identidad debido a su estatus migratorio. Annell era asintomática, pero aún así luchó durante sus dos semanas de cuarentena porque no podía trabajar.

Hannah A Bullock; Azaibi Tamin / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 Pueden encontrar la versión en español aqui.

About a month ago, Annell, who works as a housekeeper in the Roaring Fork Valley, tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work. Aspen Public Radio is only using her first name to protect her identity because of her immigration status. Annell was asymptomatic, but still struggled during her two-week quarantine because she could not work.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

LIFT-UP Food Pantry Continues Distribution Into August

LIFT-UP will continue to distribute food via mobile distribution using drive-thru sites in Carbondale, Glenwood, New Castle, Parachute, DeBeque and Rifle.  Some sites will be moving locations as schools begin to re-open.  The schedule will continue as one-day-a-week per community, with longer distribution times while rotating each week between mid-afternoon and early evening.

The American conversation around masks and COVID-19 has taken a dizzying turn. For months, wearing masks has been politicized as a sign of liberal leanings. But in recent days, ever more governors — many of them Republican — have moved to mandate masks. This week President Trump — arguably the nation's most visible mask un-enthusiast — started referring to wearing them as "patriotic."

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