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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.

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.

At a hearing last weekend about a Colorado bill on vaccination, Dr. Reginald Washington had originally planned to make several urgent points in support of the bill. 

First, that diseases like measles are resurging, and they’re serious. (He’d know. He’s treated patients with complications from measles and pertussis.) Second, due to COVID-19, children are missing well-child visits and skipping vaccinations, putting them at risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. 

Courtesy Photo / City of Glenwood Springs

Tourist attractions in Glenwood Springs were given the stamp of approval by the state to open Monday, June 8, including Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Iron Mountain Hot Springs

via City of Aspen

The Aspen Saturday Market is slated to come back as early as June 20, with new rules and restrictions. City officials are targeting the first Saturday after Pitkin County increases the limit on gatherings from 10 to 50 people, which they anticipate to be June 20.

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.” 

Tammy Terwelp / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County Food Stamp Requests Up Substantially

Thursday, June 11 - Requests for food assistance in Pitkin County went up dramatically during the pandemic. Applications for the food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, were up 638% during the month of April.

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.

Courtesy Photo / Anna Stonehouse

More than 500 high school seniors in the Roaring Fork Valley graduated Saturday from parked cars and outdoor celebrations rather than traditional gymnasium and football field ceremonies because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Car horns replaced rounds of applause, and graduates wore face coverings. Now that these graduates have their diplomas, some worry their college plans may not go according to plan. 

Weekend protests drew crowds across the country including in the Mountain West, from hundreds in Boise and Reno to thousands in Denver. Some city leaders now worry such gatherings could lead to new outbreaks of COVID-19.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced Sunday that the city will be offering free tests to demonstrators. 

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.

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

Glenwood Springs Extends Public Face Covering Rules, Announces Reopenings of Parks and Playgrounds

Friday, June 5 - The Glenwood Springs City Council today voted to extend its public facemask ordinance. The public health order will remain in effect until state and/or CDC guidelines change, or a vaccine becomes available to the public. The city's Parks and Recreation department also announced that it would be reopening playgrounds and outdoor sports facilities, but with social distancing guidelines and a maximum of 10 people at playgrounds, and 25 people at sports courts and fields. Spectators are also discouraged at pick-up sport events. More information about current public health orders can be found on the city's website.

Kendall Reiley / Glenwood Springs Elementary School

As the school year comes to an end for Roaring Fork School District and Aspen School District students, the districts are already preparing for what learning may look like in the fall. 

Courtesy Photo

Starting a business can be a gamble, and the stakes are even higher during a pandemic. Owners of two new businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley are taking the leap at a time when unemployment is soaring and social distancing measures are hurting industries all across Colorado.

Elise Thatcher / Aspen Public Radio

Basalt Town Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday launching the Basalt Bucks program. In an attempt to help businesses ordered to shut down by Gov. Jared Polis when the pandemic made its way to Colorado, all addresses within the town limits will receive a $20 voucher to use at Basalt restaurants or retail stores.

Courtesy of Tracy Doherty

When the pandemic took hold, Tracy Doherty kept going to work as a pediatric nurse at Valley View Hospital. Her line of work usually comes with some stability, so she was surprised when she was laid off earlier this month. 

 “Being a nurse you kind of never expect to lose your job,” Doherty said. “I knew they were going to be cutting staff, but I didn't think it would be nursing staff.”

The Colorado Capitol looked and sounded very different on Tuesday as state lawmakers returned for the first time in more than two months.

From difficulties hearing caused by legislators trying to talk through face masks to new plexiglass barriers placed between every desk in the House of Representatives, the legislature is adapting to new safety measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Researchers in Utah are in the process of testing about 10,000 people for COVID-19 and antibodies against the virus that causes it.

“People have talked about how we see the tip of the iceberg with the formalized testing that we have,” said Dr. Stephen Alder, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah and one of the project’s leaders. “We're trying to look at, ‘All right, how much of the iceberg is underwater?’ This is a good way to do that.”

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County Reopening Plan Includes Industry-Specific Dates

Thursday, May 28 - Phase two of Pitkin County’s reopening plan includes a step-by-step schedule with reopening dates for different industries. County officials say reopenings come with strict regulations and health guidelines. The planned dates could change if the county sees indications that the presence of COVID-19 is increasing. 

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

If you want a hearty breakfast in the small town of Thompson Falls, Montana, Minnie's Montana Cafe has you covered.

 


Nursing home residents and workers account for about one-third of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S., as The New York Times reported last week. Testing every resident and worker could help slow the spread in nursing homes – but it's expensive.

Tammy Terwelp / Aspen Public Radio

State Officials Encourage Residents To Celebrate Memorial Day With Safety In Mind

Friday, May 22 - Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, public health officials are asking Coloradans to keep the following in mind to slow and limit transmission of COVID-19. 

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy

Pitkin County Emergency Manager Valerie MacDonald has been fully immersed in the area’s response to COVID-19 for two months, but recent warm, dry and windy days have also caught her attention. 

“We’re entering the, historically, most hazardous time of the year, with wildfires, flooding and debris flows,” she said. “We have to be prepared for that as well.” 

via City of Aspen

The City of Aspen is asking for input on a plan that would allow local businesses to operate on sidewalks and streets in the downtown core. In a press release, the city said doing so would “increase physical space to facilitate social interaction, community connection and commercial activity while adhering to Pitkin County Health Order gathering guidelines.”

Dana Berro / Courtesy Photo

Honks, sirens and cheers filled the streets of Aspen Friday afternoon as Aspen School District teachers drove through town to wave to students and their families. Educators decorated their cars with posters and cheered as they passed students lining sidewalks. 


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

It's Cinco de Mayo in Sandpoint, Idaho, and a downtown pub is giving away free meals to families in need. Not many people are out. A few are wearing masks. Outside the pub, a teenager is playing the Beatles' song "Yesterday" on his violin.

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