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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.

Some of the nation's top polluters are now running on the honor system after the Environmental Protection Agency last week announced relaxed enforcement of environmental regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eleanor Bennett

Last Thursday, Meat & Cheese owner Wendy Mitchell stood outside her restaurant wearing latex gloves and serving free, vegan squash soup and buttermilk biscuits to passersby. Mitchell calls this "Bonnie's Soup Kitchen," named for the manager who came up with the idea. 

“She just had this idea that there’s so many restaurant people that are immediately unemployed, that we should do something for the community because so many of our customers are restaurant people, industry people,” Mitchell said. 

Olive And West Photography

  

Musicians around the globe are sharing their music online during the coronavirus pandemic, and Thursday evening, local musician Jackson Emmer adds his voice. It’s a part of a series of virtual concerts he’s calling “Quarantunes,” meant to raise awareness and funds for performers who are struggling since venues were shut down and tours cancelled. 

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.

As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the wildfire season, it must also confront COVID-19.

Already the agency's put a stop to prescribed burning. And it says it will continue fire suppression and other activities with guidance from the CDC.

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.

Gov. Jared Polis said Monday the dramatic social distancing measures residents are taking in Colorado appear to be working.

Polis said new testing results suggest the spread of the COVID-19 may be slowing days after schools, bars and restaurants were ordered to close their doors around the state. He reported it is now taking five days for cases of the virus to double statewide.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Few retailers in the Roaring Fork Valley remain open after a statewide order shut down those that were not deemed essential. Liquor stores and dispensaries are on the short list of essential businesses, but are reporting a slowdown in sales.

COVID-19: Resources And Information

Mar 30, 2020
Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

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

Follow our updates for the most recent news information and instructions.

Peter Mertz / Facebook

 


Freelance journalist Peter Mertz usually writes for Chinese media company Xinhua. Now, he’s turned his attention to doing daily social media posts on the Carbondale community page about what’s stocked in the town’s City Market.

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.  

Garfield County

 

 

The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners voted Friday to fund Grand River Meals on Wheels in the amount of $40,000 to sustain home delivery meal services to homebound clients. 

 

The vote came as the need for social distancing measures around COVID-19 has driven up participation in the program 20% since early March.

 

“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.”

Electricity Use Drops Nearly 10% As Ski Lifts Close Early

Mar 29, 2020
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy / Aspen Journalism

Stay-at-home orders and closed businesses, combined with an abrupt end to the ski season, are changing the electricity consumption and demand patterns for Holy Cross Energy, which supplies electricity to much of the Roaring Fork and Eagle river valleys.

Courtesy of Stephen Stacey

Stephen Stacey moved to Glenwood Springs three years ago with his daughter. He said they live a simple life, and love to fish. 

 “Glenwood Springs is a great place to live if you love to fish,” he said. “The only town in the United States of America that has two gold medal rivers in the town boundary.”

As the graph below shows, the number of COVID-19 cases reported by public health agencies in the Mountain West is climbing. But what do those numbers actually say? 

Gov. Jared Polis is defending his decision to issue a stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic.

During a news conference Friday, he said state health officials told him that if he didn't take aggressive action to keep residents isolated from one another, COVID-19 could kill as many as 33,000 Coloradans by June 1.

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."

Screenshot from GrassRoots TV

Aspen Valley Hospital has admitted 10 patients with symptoms of COVID-19 since the outbreak began. Two are currently at the hospital; one is in critical condition. In Pitkin County’s online community meeting Thursday, Dave Ressler, the hospital’s CEO, said patient volumes are light but they are seeing sicker patients than before.

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.

Garfield County Public Libraries

Pitkin, Basalt and Garfield County libraries’ doors are closed, but they’re still open for browsing online.

Garfield County Libraries are offering a new streaming movie and eBook service called Hoopla. Hoopla offers audiobooks, streaming TV shows and TumbleBooks, animated, talking picture books for kids. 

"I definitely wanted the public to have access to this as soon as possible," said Brett Lear, executive director of Garfield County Libraries.

 

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. 

Eleanor Bennett

Usually El Korita Restaurant in Willits is buzzing with energy, no matter the night of the week. Families singing happy birthday, a crowd of people at the bar ordering margaritas and a line of locals out the door, waiting for a table. 

On a recent day, though, restaurant owner Tito Gamboa was the only one there. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Pitkin County Public Health has issued a stay-at-home order; the new restrictions are meant to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting contact between people. 

The order requires people to remain at home unless conducting essential business like grocery shopping, picking up medicine or exercise. It also directs tourists visiting the area to head home and closes non-essential businesses. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado’s ski resorts are closed by order of the Governor, but some adventurous residents are still “uphilling” by hiking or skinning up the slopes. On Friday, Vail Resorts shut down uphill access at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte. Sunlight Mountain in Glenwood Springs did the same Sunday.

Christin Kay / Aspen Public Radio

The Food and Wine Classic in Aspen is cancelled this year.

Hunter Lewis, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, made the announcement Monday, saying the decision was made out of concern for the safety of the restaurant community “and the world beyond it.”

Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

Colorado public schools are closed until at least April 17, so Aspen School District is rolling out virtual learning for its students beginning April 1. 

Students will access content on their own time and work at their own pace, instead of teachers and students meeting online in real-time each day. 

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.”

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Updated: March 20, 2020

The Aspen Skiing Company has announced that they will close all mountains for the remainder of the 2019-2020 ski season. 

The company says this is in response to Governor Jared Polis extending an order that closed all Colorado ski resorts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Polis announced Wednesday that resorts were to remain closed through April 6. 

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