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Pitkin County

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Fourth of July weekend promises to be a busy one at North Star Nature Preserve, a popular spot for people to paddleboard and tube a section of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen. On June 24, Pitkin County approved a new management plan for the preserve, ushering in some rule changes. 

Graphic by Alex Hager (Aspen Public Radio) / Data from Pitkin County, Eagle County, Garfield County

Cases of COVID-19 in the Roaring Fork Valley are on the rise, and many of the new infections are in young people. Health and government officials say the uptick in cases among those under 30 could be a harbinger of increased hospitalizations and halt the rollout of reopening plans.

via United States Census Bureau

Only a third of residents in Pitkin and Eagle Counties have responded to the U.S. Census so far, putting them in the bottom 20% of all counties in Colorado. 

Courtesy of Pitkin County Public Health

Rates of positive COVID-19 tests are gradually rising in the Roaring Fork Valley. In Thursday’s Pitkin County Board of Health Meeting, officials said the rate of positive tests at Aspen Valley Hospital was increasing and that positive cases in neighboring Garfield and Eagle are being closely monitored. 

Colorado School of Public Health

As people flock back to reopened spaces and local governments unroll plans to resume some components of pre-pandemic life, health officials are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 data. 

In models from early June, the Colorado School of Public Health shows that high levels of social distancing are necessary to “avoid exceeding hospital capacity.” 

Screenshot from Pitkin County Board of Health

Pitkin County Public Health released a set of amendments to its standing public health order on Thursday. They will remain in effect until July 3. The changes provide updated timing and clarity to the particulars of industry-specific reopening plans. Below are the latest dates and rules. Full details can be found here.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Tourism is returning to Pitkin County, and short-term lodging, like hotels and condos, can operate at 50% capacity each day. In a recent Board of Health meeting, Snowmass Village Mayor and board chair Markey Butler said that isn’t the best fit for her town. She spoke with reporter Alex Hager about why she's pushing for a different plan.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County’s gradual reopening is underway. Hotels and restaurants have plans to field guests at partial capacity, using guidance from county public health officials to help suppress the spread of COVID-19. Those plans rely heavily on personal responsibility, according to Jordana Sabella, manager of planning, prevention and partnerships for Pitkin County Public Health.

City of Aspen Climate Action Office

 

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission holds its first rulemaking hearing on May 20 and 21 to address greenhouse gas, or GHG, reporting and the phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons - powerful GHGs primarily used in cooling and refrigeration.

via Pitkin County Public Health

Pitkin County health officials said they are on track to move to phase two of a reopening plan as early as May 27. The county needs to see certain patterns in health data to enter that phase. In Thursday’s board of health meeting, county officials and Aspen Valley Hospital staff said they have not seen a new COVID-19 case since early April, neighboring counties are posting low case numbers and the staff at the hospital is almost entirely healthy.

via Pixabay

Kurt Dahl’s job as Pitkin County’s environmental health manager sometimes feels like detective work.

“You're trying to identify who could have gotten something from where,” he said. “And that really gets into that case investigation and that detective type of work.”

via Pitkin County

Pitkin County’s next public health order goes into effect on May 9 as part of a three-phase plan to return to normal life. Thursday, the county board of health said it could move to the second phase as early as May 27, if certain criteria are met.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County’s plan to gradually return to normal life relies in part on adequate testing for COVID-19, which will be carried out by Aspen Valley Hospital. The hospital is cooperating with the county and using nasal swab tests to identify new cases of the virus. 

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.

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.

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 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.

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. 

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Pitkin County has received its shipment of 1,000 new COVID-19 blood tests. Officials said they “still have a bit of a process” before the tests are released for use by the public and did not specify who will be eligible for testing. In Thursday's online community meeting, the county said does not plan to charge for the tests and will use them to gather data about the presence of the virus in the community.

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Aspen Valley Hospital is only seeing a “slight volume” of patients with symptoms of COVID-19, according to an update from CEO Dave Ressler in Thursday’s Pitkin County virtual community meeting. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the hospital has admitted 18 patients. One is still in the hospital, and “all but two” of the other patients were discharged to recover at home.

The Pitkin County Incident Management Team and Pitkin County Public Health Department are hosting a virtual community meeting on Monday, March 16 at 3 p.m. MST. 

Participants can watch the Community Meeting at https://zoom.us/j/571198559​ Meeting ID: 571 198 559.

It will also be streamed by Grassroots and Pitkin County.

You can also listen only to the meeting by calling (669) 900-6833 or (929) 205-6099, meeting ID 571198559# 

Elise Thatcher

Colorado is holding its first presidential primary in 20 years on March 3.

Ballots were mailed to registered voters on Feb. 10. If you are a registered as a Democrat or Republican, you will receive that party's ballot. If you are not registered with a party, you will be sent both party's primary ballots and will be allowed to only return one. 

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.

via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

On Wednesday, the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners will consider raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21. Under the new measure, the county would fine retailers $1,000 if they are caught selling to underage people.

Vaping360 via Creative Commons

Colorado has the highest rate of youth electronic cigarette use in the nation, and use among high schoolers in Pitkin County is among the highest in the state. Now, the county is considering measures to change that.

Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

Last week, Pitkin County Board of Commissioners approved three members to join the Citizens Review Board for Child Welfare Services.

The state requires every county to have a citizen review board in order to investigate any serious complaints about staff and processes. However, the review board for Child Welfare Services has not been utilized for at least eight years. 

Elise Thatcher

The Valley Health Alliance is a group of six of the largest employers in the Roaring Fork Valley. They've joined together to lower healthcare costs for employees and their dependents -- currently, about 6,000 people.

Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

As part of their “Charge At Work” initiative, Holy Cross Energy is asking the Pitkin County board of commissioners Tuesday for approval to install four electric vehicle charging ports in Buttermilk’s parking lot.

Ryer Gardenswartz / Aspen Public Radio

Numbers from around the Roaring Fork Valley show slightly more than a third of registered voters cast a ballot on election day 2019, according to unofficial counts on Thursday afternoon.

All three counties also delivered among the lowest turnout rates in the state. Out of Colorado’s 64 counties, Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield all posted turnout percentages ranking in the bottom seven.

 

Pitkin County / www.pitkincounty.com

Pitkin County 911 dispatchers will be among the few in the country, and the first in Colorado, to now be recognized as first responders. 

All Pitkin County emergency dispatchers are trained to give potentially lifesaving instructions over the phone, like CPR, childbirth and bleeding control. In the first six months of 2019, emergency dispatchers in the county have provided medical guidance to over 200 callers. 

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