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Updates: Coronavirus

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

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

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Governor Polis Extends Executive Orders Aimed At COVID-19 Relief 

Tuesday, August 11 - Governor Polis signed 30-day extensions on three executive orders yesterday that are aimed at COVID-19 relief. The Governor extended eviction protections for some Coloradans economically affected by the pandemic by 30 days. He also signed a 30-day extension on an Executive Order from March that suspends certain statutes to maintain eligibility for Coloradans enrolled in Medicaid the Children's Basic Health Plan. Govenor Polis also signed an extension on an executive order that suspends certain rules and statues to expand the state's healthcare workforce for hospitals and other inpatient medical facilities. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County’s COVID Emergency Relief Fund has distributed $2.28 million in assistance since the pandemic took hold in March. At the end of June, the program was suspended. Officials said it was designed as a short-term emergency program while other aid organizations built capacity for longer-term help. 

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.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

For a ski rental shop at the base of Aspen Mountain, winter means big business when the resort opens. But right now, it’s pretty hard to say exactly what challenges will come with a mid-pandemic ski season.

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.

Kendall Reiley / Glenwood Springs Elementary School

The Roaring Fork School District announced Friday the 2020-2021 school year will begin virtually on August 17 since COVID-19 risks in the Roaring Fork Valley remain high. District officials said they worked with public health officials and used evidence-based information to make the decision for school to begin online with some improvements from the spring. 

Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital

Aspen Valley Hospital’s COVID-19 testing operation has been a key part of upvalley virus control plans. Dave Ressler, Aspen Valley Hospital CEO, explained how testing people without symptoms fits into those plans during Thursday’s livestreamed community meeting.

Alex Hager/Aspen Public Radio

Eagle County May Be Forced To Forfeit Public Health Variance

Friday, July 25 - Trends in the local spread of COVID-19 may threaten Eagle County’s ability to maintain its public health order variance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Last week, the state health department notified the county that local disease rates were outside the levels allowed by the variance. 

Courtesy Sue Sharpe

Governor Jared Polis announced a statewide mask order on Thursday, directing Coloradans to wear a face covering while indoors.

The statewide mandatory mask order requires anyone over the age of 10 to wear a face covering over their noses and mouths when entering or moving within any public indoor space. It also mandates face coverings while using or waiting to use public transportation or taxis, car services and ride shares.

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Cases of COVID-19 are steadily rising in all three Roaring Fork Valley counties. In a livestreamed community meeting Thursday, public health officials from Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties discussed increasing case counts and the hurdles they face in tracking and controlling the spread of the virus.

Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Pitkin County posted its highest single-week total of positive COVID-19 cases in the week ending July 12. Testing identified 28 new cases in the county. The two previous weeks held the old record, with 16 new cases each. 

Glenwood Springs Fire Department

Battling a wildfire is no small task, but coordinating response during a pandemic adds an extra layer of challenges. Sunday night’s two-acre blaze in the Three Mile area of Glenwood Springs was not big enough to bring about those challenges, but gave emergency officials a chance to assess what could have happened had the fire spread further.

Creative Commons

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Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield Counties transitioned to a tri-county testing strategy to help get COVID-19 test results to patients faster and ultimately reduce community spread of the virus. To do that, the three counties will only test people who show symptoms, have a greater risk, have been in contact with someone who tested positive or are hospitalized. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Eagle County Updates Public Health Order

Friday, July 17 - Eagle County updated its public health order effective immediately Friday due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. Under the new order, only ten people are allowed at private gastherings, indoor public gatherings are reduced to 100 people and indoor public gatherings will allow 175 people or less. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Eagle County Adds Demographic Data To COVID-19 Statistics

Friday, July 10 - Eagle County has added demographic data to its publicly viewable COVID-19 monitoring dashboard. New data includes the age, gender and ethnicity of confirmed cases. The county said it is including this information to "better inform the public of the impact of the disease in particular on the local workforce, Latino community, older adults, and youth and young adults."

Screenshot / Garfield County

After Memorial Day weekend, Garfield County officials said they saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, about 101 positive tests since June 1. Now heading into Fourth of July, officials are emphasizing the importance of social distancing and wearing face coverings for residents and visitors in order to help slow the spread of coronavirus in Garfield County.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

In a special meeting Wednesday night, Aspen City Council authorized a midnight curfew on retail businesses, restaurants and bars. Councilmembers hoped the order would prevent restaurants from evolving into bar-like atmospheres late at night. 

This post was updated June 29, 2020 to include comments from Alexis Kalergis. 

A Colorado team says their work on a COVID-19 vaccine is progressing. Other vaccines are much further down the testing pipeline, but none have crossed the finish line yet. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

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.

Roaring Fork School District

Pueden encontrar la versión en español aqui

When Gov. Jared Polis ordered Colorado schools to close in mid-March due to the pandemic, the Roaring Fork School District, like others across the state, had to scramble to put distance learning in place. Now, they're asking for feedback on how virtual learning went in the spring and how it should change if the pandemic should close down its classrooms again. To do that, the district surveyed over 1,000 district students, parents and staff.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Local governments have been hit hard during an economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Aspen projected a $25 million dollar loss in revenue. As cities and counties take a hard look at their budgets, climate experts are urging them to keep the health of the planet in mind. 

Courtesy Photo / Basalt Middle School

Monday, the Roaring Fork School District begins a three-phase plan to welcome back student athletes for practice over the summer. The first phase will require any workout to be outdoors, athletes to work out in groups of ten and participants to keep six feet of distance at all times.

Christin Kay

LIFT-UP Releases July Food Distribution Plan

Friday, June 26- Next month, LIFT-UP Food Pantries will continue to distribute food throughout the Roaring Fork Valley via drive-through and walk-up format. LIFT-UP pantries are not open for food pick up or donations at this time. 

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

Carbondale is one of many towns in Colorado putting plans in place to help local businesses adjust to the economic effects of COVID-19. The town closed Carbondale’s Main Street between Third and Fourth streets so businesses can give customers space to safely shop and dine. 

Some local business owners said the closure is helping, while others said it is bad for business.

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. 

Most businesses in the outdoor recreation industry are seeing sales decline because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and 88% are reporting that they’ve had to lay off or furlough employees.

Screenshot / Garfield County Credible Mind PRO

Garfield County announced a new, free online mental health resource last week to help those struggling during the COVID-19 crisis. CredibleMindPRO is a website that provides tools, assessments and local mental health information through articles, podcasts and videos. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

PitCo Says State Public Health Order Changes Won't Go Into Affect Here Until Later

Thursday, June 18 - Changes to Colorado’s statewide public health order to go into effect today, but any of those changes will not go into effect in Pitkin County until the local public health order is amended, according to a release from the county. Pitkin County could choose to be more restrictive or less restrictive with its next set of rules, as allowed by a variance. 

Wildfire season is upon us. As fire crews start heading out, politicians and the Trump administration are at odds over the measures needed to keep firefighters safe and on the job.

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