| AspenTimes.com

Willoughby: Great White Hurricane — could a storm like that bury Aspen?

Aspen has enjoyed another winter with happy skiers. Locals maneuvered a few dicey storms with good results. During 1888 Aspenites thought of storms, especially the bad ones, as a commonplace hardship. Life in the heart of the Rockies toughens locals for any eventuality.

The great Blizzard of 1888, also known as the Great White Hurricane, swept through the Northeastern U.S. through March 12 and 13. That faraway storm may have made locals wonder whether they had yet to see the worst. Some of Aspen’s worst storms have occurred in late March and April. The warmer weather brings wetter snow and avalanches. It complicates travel.

Retrospective summaries of that Nor’easter storm report that many areas accumulated more than 50 inches of snow in a little over 24 hours. Storm-related deaths totaled 400. Winds as fast as 80 mph mounded snow as high as 52 feet. In New York City snowdrifts buried houses and buildings. The storm helped to prompt eastern cities to bury telegraph and electric lines underground, and to construct subways invulnerable to storms.

Viewing the events through the Aspen Times, as Aspenites did over the course of the storm, reveals the topmost thoughts that may have occupied their minds. Reporting on “The Great Storm” on March 13, the newspaper recorded 15,000 shares sold on the New York Stock Exchange, the daily fewest ever. All elevated trains and streetcars had stopped. In a city that ran 3,000 daily trains, the paper noted, that had never happened before.

The paper printed reports sent to them at 9 p.m. EST, updated every couple of hours, as one story. The first report said no one could remember such a strong storm. Drugstores packed with customers sought help with frozen ears. At one of New York’s busiest intersections a woman died from freezing.

“A Fearful Storm” headlined the second day of reporting. Albany reported that only 20 out of 164 legislators could make it to the statehouse. Troy reported that it had snowed for 40 hours straight, and built up 40 inches of snow. The temperature at Dobbs Ferry in the early morning sat at zero.

New York City closed the produce, coffee and cotton exchanges. Snowplows would not work, so thousands of men shoveled the railroad track. No milk had been delivered for 36 hours. Coal deliveries reduced to baskets and buckets, the price had doubled.

Baltimore experienced a first — the first time telegraphs went down between New York and Washington since they had begun operation. The tide level reached the lowest anyone had seen, 12 feet below normal, and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in 10 hours. In Wilmington, Delaware, vessels had sunk, and 25 had died. When Camden, New Jersey, ran out of water, fears of contagion spread. A fire broke out in Stanford, Connecticut. But no more reports arrived from there, because communication lines were down.

The day after the storm the paper told staggering stories. New York City estimated that businesses lost an estimated $7 million (more than $100 million in today’s dollars). City supplies fell short on all commodities. One hotel reported that they paid 50 cents ($11) a quart for a dealer’s last 50 gallons of milk.

Passengers rode 46 hours by train from Rockaway, New Jersey, to Long Island City, New York, — a distance of 40 miles. Twenty funerals in New York headed to Calgary Cemetery. The storm buried mourners and their horses. When they were dug out they were nearly “frozen to death.” People in houses nearby took in the corpses.

Considering climate change, has Aspen already experienced its worst-ever storm? If not, would it likely happen in March or April? Aspenites of 1888 must have pondered the consequences of 50 inches of snow in one day with 50-foot drifts. It could still happen.

Tim Willoughby’s family story parallels Aspen’s. He began sharing folklore while teaching Aspen Country Day School and Colorado Mountain College. Now a tourist in his native town, he views it with historical perspective. Reach him at redmtn2@comcast.net.

Roaring Fork Valley’s LatinX community faces coronavirus challenges

The uncertainty surrounding the new coronavirus is nerve-racking for everyone, but it’s magnified for “M,” a 62-year-old resident of El Jebel.

M is an undocumented immigrant and longtime local resident who is no longer able to work as a housekeeper because of back pain. She depends on help from her adult children, and particularly a daughter, to pay her rent and cover her other bills.

M, who didn’t want her name disclosed because of her legal status, is in the high-risk category for COVID-19 because of her age and diabetes. But dodging the virus isn’t her top concern.

“If they lose their jobs, I don’t know what I’ll do,” she said of her children. “If they don’t have jobs, I don’t have money to pay my rent and bills.”

Her daughter usually works full-time in housekeeping. Last week, she worked only three days after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order. Pitkin County had previously passed its own version of a stricter health order. Despite the lack of work, her daughter took M to the grocery store to stock up.

M doubts that she qualifies for any economic aid because of her status. So, it’s wait-and-see on how to pay her bills.

Meanwhile, she’s polishing her English skills. She hopes she can return to work eventually, possibly in an office, she said.

The Latino community in the Roaring Fork Valley has been hit particularly hard by the economic shutdown. Latino workers dominate in the restaurant, construction and lodging industries and, in many cases, their manual jobs cannot be performed at home.

“We’ve had lots of calls from people who have been laid off, not to mention folks who are undocumented,” said Mateo Lozano, mountain regional organizer for the Denver-based Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. “The folks who are undocumented are in an even worse predicament. Many of them are unaware that there are workers’ comp rights that they can take advantage of.”

The coalition has focused over the past two weeks on getting information to immigration hubs and nonprofit organizations that regularly work with Latinos to share information about what aid is available and how to apply for it.

It’s a complicated topic, Lozano said. An immigrant who has legal residency but is working to attain citizenship cannot become what the federal government classifies as a public charge — someone collecting welfare benefits.

That concern discourages some people who are sick, possibly with the coronavirus, from seeking medical care or unemployment compensation.

“Totally, 100 percent,” Lozano said. “They’re afraid of being a public charge.”

With state and local aid already being offered to laid-off workers and now a federal stimulus package, there is aid available that doesn’t qualify someone as a public charge.

“A lot of people don’t know you can take advantage of unemployment benefits even if they are undocumented,” Lozano said.

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is trying to help people wade through the regulations and answer their questions, he said. Information can be found at http://coloradoimmigrant.org.

Glenwood Springs immigration attorney Jennifer Smith has witnessed how the chaotic developments this month have created a lot of uncertainty. Like Lozano, she is aware of people who fear seeking medical treatment and applying for unemployment compensation.

“There’s always a significant portion of our immigrant population that is so risk-adverse that they won’t apply, even if they qualify,” Smith said. “The worry is it’s going to be used against them.”

She said her law firm has experienced an increase in telephone calls from clients trying to figure out if they qualify for aid and how to get it.

“No one is really interested in their immigration case right now,” she said.

In the bigger picture of trying to figure out the coronavirus crisis and the economic fallout, Entravision Communications and its Spanish-language radio station in the Roaring Fork Valley, Radio Tricolor Aspen, is filling the void.

Vice president Samuel Bernal-Urbina said the station has been flooded with questions from listeners — first about the symptoms of coronavirus and what a person should do if they feel they have it, and more recently how people can feed their families and recoup some of their lost income.

He said it is difficult to gauge how hard the coronavirus has hit the valley’s Latino community. There have been numerous reports of people with symptoms.

“I know there have been cases but there isn’t any data,” he said.

The radio station has been focused lately on sifting through the state, local and federal aid programs and providing answers.

“It gets a little more complicated with our immigrant community,” he said.

One thing that has become clear, he said, is the Roaring Fork Valley is a caring community for people, regardless of their legal status. Aid programs abound. On the other hand, people are scared about how they will continue to provide for their families if stay-at-home orders persist for an extended time — a concern shared by everyone.

Bernal and others created a Facebook public group called Coronavirus Aspen 2 Parachute Community Help to answer questions and serve as a clearinghouse for providing help to people in need. Most people are posting in Spanish but all posts can be translated.

One person posted a map that showed the coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of March 9 and another with significantly more cases March 26.

“Terrifying. I’m scared,” posted one person.

Bernal posted a question Friday asking if anyone has tested positive for the coronavirus and if they would be willing to share their story on the radio news.

He said he was impressed by how people have used the forum to seek and provide help. One man recently got out of Garfield County Jail facing a world a whole lot different from when he went in, with stay-at-home orders and a lack of jobs. Several people offered to help get the man on his feet, first by paying for a hotel room, then by providing longer-term housing, according to Bernal.

Hazzell Chevez, who works as a woman, infant, child specialist and a family health coordinator for Eagle County Health and Environment, is among the people trying to provide accurate answers to questions on the Aspen 2 Parachute Facebook page.

“This community in the Roaring Fork Valley is very supportive and it’s not hard to get help when one needs it,” she said.

Many people are trying to find help to pay their rent, so information released by Eagle County government was shared on the page, she said. People also want to know where they can get food to feed their families.

“People are concerned about getting help because so many people are not working,” Chevez said.

Chevez, who lives in the midvalley, is among the people working from home these days. Among her duties is calling to check in on women with infants and small children at home to make sure they are eating well and maintaining their health. She said she inquires about their health to see if they are experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus and she shares information on how to respond.

She also is balancing work with caring for her own 7-year-old son. She said she doesn’t have immediate family in the valley to help with child care.

“Sometimes it’s hard because he wants my attention,” she said. But overall, her son understands that she must work.

Her husband works as an assistant lab technician at a local hospital. He sleeps in a different bedroom at home as a precaution while coronavirus presents a threat.

Chevez said she is concerned that the virus could sweep through the Latino community because there are often so many people sharing residences.

Eagle County has appointed a content marketing coordinator from its recreation staff to help the public health department in its LatinX outreach efforts. That staff member, Eddie Campos, and Faviola Alderete of the public health department have been working with the Spanish-language radio stations in the Eagle and Roaring Fork valleys to provide regular updates on COVID-19-related topics.

Campos also contributes content to the One Valley Voice bilingual Facebook page.

Angelo Fernandez, deputy county manager, also is involved in the county’s outreach efforts.

“Eagle County has been working with a group of about 60 Latino leaders in the Eagle River and Roaring Fork Valleys to help coordinate and distribute urgent and emergent information and relevant stories related to COVID-19,” Fernandez said in a statement.

On the Aspen 2 Parachute Facebook page, there is a mix of posts that express frustration, fear and a sense of community in battling the coronavirus. One woman posted a picture of herself and other women taking a break from cleaning at Aspen Valley Hospital.

“We are housekeeping from Aspen hospital. Always positive and bless with God’s help,” her post says.


Tweet All About It: Grateful to be in Aspen

Each week, we pick out our favorite and not-so-favorite tweets (at least those that are printable) about Aspen and display them on Sunday’s page A2.

One of those days where you are thankful you don’t get invited to those parties #Aspen — @rikkitweets

In an effort to help our school community, we have decided to create a COVID-19 content series. Our series will be shared on our website, Facebook, and Instagram – and will give you current school information, as well as ideas and resources. http://aspenaef.org #Aspen — @AspenAEF

PLEASE put #PitkinCounty to the top of the lists for tests when they arrive this week @GovofCO #Aspen —@CorriMcFadden

Had. To. Get. Out. So we decided to rig up the truant pup and give her the task of creating a new sport for us. Sledjoring. #covid_19 #Sledding #socialdistancing #Aspen #Snowmass — @marcimichelle

So happy to live in #Aspen — @banneraspen

I mean I love aspen but have you been to #Breckenridge — @StevenStar

Aspen Mountain memories. Looking back at a season full of T2Bs, gondola rides with friends, powder days in the Dumps and town views as we wax our skis and dream ahead to more of this next winter. Thanks to all of you and our on-mountain teams for a great season on Aspen Mountain! — @AspenSnowmass

The Aspen Times can be found on Twitter, as well. Simply type “TheAspenTimes” (no spaces) into the search bar, and get daily updates on what’s happening in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Photos: Aspen Misc., March 29, 2020

President Trump approves disaster declaration for Colorado amid virus

DENVER (AP) — President Donald Trump on Saturday approved a disaster declaration for Colorado, allowing additional federal assistance for the state, tribal and local response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This declaration ensures that Colorado can be on a level playing field with other states that already have this status like New York and Washington when it comes to federal disaster funding and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a news release. “I thank the members of Colorado’s federal delegation who advocated for this funding to recognize the seriousness of this public health crisis unfolding hour by hour in our state.”

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Colorado jumped by 13 Saturday for a total of 44 deaths, while more than 2,060 people have tested positive, state public health officials said. Two Pitkin County resident died in the past week.

Also, survey results released Saturday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show a large majority of Coloradans are “very concerned” about COVID-19 and are taking extra precautions to keep the community healthy.

About 72% of the nearly 45,000 polled said they were very concerned, officials said, although that number dropped to 59% among 18- to 29-year-olds. Nearly 90% of respondents, however, think it’s somewhat or very likely that they would get sick from the coronavirus.

More than 95% overall said they are washing their hands more frequently and avoiding large gatherings.

“This survey shows what we already knew, that Coloradans are strong, and we are all in this together,” Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a news release. “We’re relieved to see that so many people are doing their part to slow the spread of this deadly virus. If we keep this up, we will protect our health care system from being overloaded with critical cases and countless lives will be saved.”

Survey results also showed nearly half the respondents have had symptoms indicative of generalized anxiety over the last two weeks.

The survey was conducted before Polis ordered people statewide to stay home.

Officials said those who took the survey may have been more concerned about COVID-19 and may have been more likely to have made behavior changes. The survey link was shared widely after the survey’s release, officials said, “so that bias may have been reduced.” Officials also said although people of all racial and ethnic groups took the survey, Hispanic and African American participants were underrepresented.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Aspen’s Hamilton commits to at least one more season on World Cup, looks to future

Feel free to make fun of Simi Hamilton for becoming the old man who refused to hang it up. He won’t mind, as he did the same when he was younger. Of course, there is a drive behind the Aspen Olympian’s desire to keep going that is worth noting.

“I’m turning into one of those people I always kind of made fun of a little bit,” Hamilton joked. “I felt like I learned a lot of things about my body and my mind this year where I can kind of tweak a lot of things this coming training season and put in a really good next year. I’m psyched about giving it one more shot.”

Hamilton, 32, is an Aspen native and longtime fixture on the U.S. cross-country ski team. After time at Middlebury College in Vermont, Hamilton went on to compete in three Winter Olympic Games (2010, 2014, 2018) and every world championship since 2011.

For both he and his wife, fellow U.S. ski team athlete Sophie Caldwell, retirement has been on the tip of their tongue for a few years now. Neither sees the 2022 Winter Olympics as part of their future, but neither is willing to rule it out, either. The one thing that drives both to keep going for at least another season is to be role models for the country’s up-and-coming talent.

“I guess retiring is harder than we thought. I think it’s a really cool time in skiing right now because we have so many young athletes coming up, and it’s really cool for us to be able to overlap with them,” Caldwell said. “We both think it’s really important to have some time on the road with them, not only to show them the ropes but because they are really fun and inspirational to have around.”

Caldwell, 30, is a Vermont native who competed in both the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics. She remembers fondly her days as a young skier looking up to veterans like the now-retired Kikkan Randall, who in 2018 along with Jessie Diggins won the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in cross-country skiing.

And both Caldwell and Hamilton feel the best is still coming. Young athletes like Alaska’s Gus Schumacher, who became the first American male to win gold in an individual race at junior worlds earlier this winter, are providing them that extra bit of motivation to keep grinding for another year on the World Cup.

“Jessie and Kikkan and all the rest of the girls, they’ve shown us what is possible and they’ve kind of broken through that glass ceiling. So I think for these skiers coming up, it’s just a matter of now they know it’s a possibility,” Hamilton said. “Those boys just inspire me so much every single day and I want to be around for a year while they are emerging onto the level I’ve been skiing at for a while. I feel that’s a pretty cool opportunity I really want to take advantage of. It would be pretty stupid to just hang my skis up as they are just emerging.”


According to his FIS profile, Hamilton has 132 career World Cup starts with four official podiums and a single win, coming back in 2013. For the most part, he’s exclusively been a sprinter, which typically is an advantage for the younger athletes. The longer distance events tend to benefit the older athletes, which is what makes Hamilton’s longevity as a sprinter stand out.

“What is unique about Simi is he still is relevant in the young man’s game of sprint. He’s sort of turning the world upside down,” said August Teague, the Nordic program director for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. “It’s a testament to his mom and his dad in terms of how they brought him up and the natural skills that he developed as a young athlete that he’s been able to continue his career for the length he has, but also in sprinting. It’s pretty unique and pretty cool.”

Fighting injury and illness much of the 2019-20 World Cup season, Hamilton didn’t have a lot of good things to say about his season. He finished 61st in the overall standings and 24th in sprint, leading the American men in both.

Caldwell led the U.S. women this season by finishing sixth in the sprint standings. She was 25th overall, with Diggins leading the American women by finising sixth on the season-long points list.

“There were a few good moments, but a lot of really disappointing moments for me,” Hamilton said. “I just knew I still had a lot of fire inside of me to keep competing and training.”

Looking ahead to next season, the highlight will be the 2021 world championships in Germany, which would be a sixth trip to worlds for Hamilton. As of now, the 2022 Olympics in Beijing have little to no appeal for him.

“When you look at it from the outside and when you look at it objectively, it’s really hard to think we would be retiring the year before the Olympics come around again. To me, I don’t feel a lot of motivation to go to another Olympics,” Hamilton said. “I’m really psyched for all the athletes out there that still are, and I think we are going to put together a really, really good team for that games. I’m psyched to support our athletes that are going to go to those games and maybe I’ll go as a spectator or something.”


Hamilton and Caldwell met back when they were competing at the junior level. They married this past October in Vermont, where they’ve been since the last week or so of the cross-country World Cup season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Caldwell is two years younger than Hamilton, she doesn’t see herself sticking around much longer, if at all, after her husband calls it quits. She’s all in on this next season and like Hamilton looks forward to being a role model to the younger athletes, such as Basalt’s Hailey Swirbul, but can see the finish line approaching after that.

Life could take them any number of directions after they retire from competitive skiing, but a strong candidate for a landing spot could be back in the Roaring Fork Valley at some point.

“I recognize our job is one of the coolest jobs in the world and we get to travel, do what we love and we get to do it together. But there are also other parts of life that I’m looking forward to when I’m finished skiing,” Caldwell said. “We’ll see where life after skiing takes us. I’ve never lived in the west; I think I would really enjoy it. And he’s a western boy at heart, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up out there somewhere.”

Hamilton has dreams of starting a family here in Aspen, and Teague has dreams of one day getting he and Caldwell involved with coaching AVSC athletes, completing the circle of when Hamilton grew up with the club.

But those dreams remain at least a year away. There’s one more World Cup season, one more world championship and one more chance to experience life as a professional athlete. Hamilton wasn’t ready to critique his career as whole, or judge the progress the U.S. has made in the sport over his time, but believes he’ll be plenty happy with it when he reflects back decades from now.

“You are always going to have a few regrets about how things went, but I think that’s just the nature of being involved in a really complex, a really fun, a really cool sport like cross-country skiing,” Hamilton said. “I am proud of what I’ve been able to do. I feel like the biggest thing for me is to have been part of an incredible team. I think it will be a lot easier in 20 years to look back and really realize exactly what this team accomplished.”


Officials to hoarders: Quit buying bottled water

AVON — Municipal water providers in Aspen, Vail, Steamboat and other communities say there is no threat from COVID-19 in their water supplies and that people do not need to hoard bottled water — provided that the employees who operate the various water plants can still come to work.

And yet, two weeks into Colorado’s crisis, you still see people exiting the state’s grocery stores with shopping carts brimming with multipacks of 4-ply Charmin or Angel Soft toilet paper. And buried under the TP, you’ll spot the 48-bottle cartons of Arrowhead or Fiji water.

Toilet paper aside, water systems operators around the state — including ski towns, which are among the hardest-hit areas for the novel coronavirus pandemic — do not understand why people think they need to stock up on bottled water.

“Aspen Water provides safe, high-quality water that exceeds all stringent state and federal drinking-water regulations,” said City of Aspen spokeswoman Mitzi Rapkin. “Aspen’s water-treatment methods use filtration and disinfection process which remove and inactivate viruses.”

The same is true for Front Range water utilities.

“We have wastewater-treatment facilities that work above and beyond the standards devised for us, so there is no worry that water would be impacted by COVID-19,” said Ryan Maecker, spokesman for Colorado Springs Utilities, where surrounding El Paso County is second only to Denver in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

Those drinking-water standards, established by the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, are enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“The water is treated and it’s disinfected, which takes care of all viruses,” said Linn Brooks, general manager of Eagle River Water and Sanitation District in eastern Eagle County, which has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

Officials say water should be the least of anyone’s concerns during the growing outbreak, which has prompted an unprecedented statewide stay-at-home order and has seen most nonessential businesses and schools shut down.

“No, there are no water shortages. No, municipal water is not a vector for COVID-19,” said Zach Margolis, utility manager for Silverthorne Water & Sewer in Summit County.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus is thought to spread in the following manner: “Mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) … through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”

Michelle Carr, distribution and collection manager for the City of Steamboat Springs Water and Sewer, attended a CDC webinar on the topic of COVID-19 and drinking-water systems.

“It said that the coronavirus is essentially very susceptible to our disinfection processes, and that while our disinfection process targets bacteria, bacteria is less susceptible than this virus,” Carr said. “So, the fact that we’re treating for killing bacteria means that we should adequately be taking care of the COVID virus.”

Buying bottled water during the ongoing pandemic makes no sense, she said.

“Our water is completely safe to drink,” Carr said. “I don’t anticipate that there will ever be an issue where we’re spreading COVID-19 through the treated potable water system. The bottled water is completely unnecessary.”

Brooks won’t speculate on why people are hoarding toilet paper, but she does have a theory regarding the stockpiling of bottled water.

“I think (people) see communications on how to isolate at home, how to prepare to a shelter in place, how to deal with emergencies, and those instructions almost always tell you to get bottled water,” said Brooks, adding that some people inexplicably prefer to drink bottled water all the time. “I don’t particularly understand that because our water here is so great, and (bottled water) certainly has an environmental impact.”

Staffing concerns

Various municipal, county and state emergency declarations have been enacted, covering water systems, but officials say those mostly just allow them to apply for state and federal funds or obtain additional equipment if necessary. Most water providers and wastewater-treatment operators are planning for staff shortages and doing everything they can to keep their staff healthy.

“We are not aware of any specific threats to our water system,” said Aspen’s Rapkin. “We have taken proactive measures to isolate our operations staff in order to continue to provide this critical community resource.”

Brooks agrees that staffing is the biggest concern as the virus spreads.

“Our biggest risk is absenteeism of our operators,” she said. “But, that being said, we can run with a pretty lean crew even if we got into some pretty significant absenteeism, as long as it doesn’t hit everyone at once, which we don’t think is likely at all.”

Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, which treats and provides water for users from East Vail to Wolcott along Interstate 70, took steps to mitigate against absenteeism early on.

“We knew that that was going to be our biggest risk and that protecting our employees was the most important thing that we could do. That’s our highest priority — to keep our staff healthy,” said Brooks, who added that any staffer with a symptom of any kind must stay home from work and not return until they have been free of symptoms for 72 hours.

Even if smaller mountain utilities were to be hit suddenly by a COVID-19 outbreak and get into staffing problems, other water-systems operators would step in to help. A cooperative venture among all utilities across the state and codified with intergovernmental agreements dictates that if a utility needs assistance, others will provide aid.

“So, if there’s somebody that has a plant failure, and we have staffing, we will send our staffing to them,” City of Aurora Water Department spokesman Greg Baker said during a call with other Aurora and Colorado Springs water officials. “I know Colorado Springs has been heavily involved in (mutual assistance) as well, so that should really not be a major concern.”

The desire to hoard bottled water, on the other hand, escapes officials.

“The bottled-water hoarding is a phenomenon we do not understand, because we bring safe, high-quality drinking water to your house,” Baker said. “We deliver it for a half a penny a gallon, so why are people going out and buying water? We do not understand that at all.”

Also, all the plastic is an environmental issue, Baker said, and transporting it around the state or out of state in bottles removes local water from Aurora’s extensive reuse system for irrigation and agriculture.

“So, whenever people take bottled water and start shipping it out, you’re kind of losing that reusable component, and that impacts our culture because we’re so used to reusability. So that hurts us there,” Baker said. “It also hurts us through the fact that, frankly, we have some of the highest-quality water in the state, and why do you need it in a bottle? It’s as irrational as the toilet-paper hoarding.”

Aspen Journalism collaborates with The Aspen Times and other Swift Communications newspapers on coverage of water and rivers. For more, go to aspenjournalism.org.

Tour de France cycling race yet to be postponed amid coronavirus pandemic

PARIS — Perhaps no other sports event puts so many fans in such close contact with athletes as the Tour de France, with swarms of people clogging city streets, winding roads and soaring mountain passes during cycling’s three-week showpiece and getting within touching distance of the riders.

And yet, unlike almost every other major sporting event this summer, including the Tokyo Olympics, the Tour has yet to be called off despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For now, the start date remains June 27 — and there is a possibility that the race could be held without any fans lining the course.

France’s sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said the Tour can still exist in a time of social distancing.

“The economic model of the Tour de France does not rely on ticket sales but on TV rights and media broadcasting,” Maracineanu told France Bleu radio on Wednesday evening. “Everyone has understood the benefits of staying at home and prioritizing the televised spectacle. In the end, it would not be so disadvantageous because we could watch it on television.”

But it would be a Tour unlike any other.

The race, which was first held in 1903, is synonymous with images of thousands of crammed-in spectators stuck together like glue on winding ascents up the Alps, cheering on the riders as they go past.

On the final day of the race, a ceremonial ride into Paris, legions of yellow-jersey wearing spectators normally amass behind steel barriers along the Champs-Elysees: several banks deep and shoulder to shoulder, with fast-turning heads catching a glimpse of the winner flashing past.

Millions of fans watch each year’s race in a festive atmosphere stretching across all areas of France. This year’s race has 21 stages, where fans traditionally stand watching all along the way, and the longest is 218 kilometers (135 miles).

Thousands of police officers are needed to keep crowds under control and help negotiate safe passage for riders from 22 teams, with several often sharing hotels.

Enforcing a lockdown everywhere along the route for three weeks seems difficult — if not impossible — given that groups of people could appear from anywhere at any point.

One of cycling’s big attractions is that fans get so close to the riders, running alongside them up climbs and sometimes giving them a helpful push in the back on the toughest ones.

Sometimes they get much too close.

Two years ago, former champion Vincenzo Nibali crashed into a police motorbike on a narrow street lined with spectators and later abandoned the race. Four-time champion Chris Froome has been spat on and had urine thrown on him.

Maracineanu is in regular talks with Amaury Sport Organisation — the Tour organizer — but says it’s “still too early” to predict what will happen. On her Twitter account she added: “there is a time for everything. Right now, we have a a more urgent battle to fight.”

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee postponed the Tokyo Games to next year. Likewise soccer’s European Championship, held in several countries, moved to 2021. Another major cycling race, the Giro d’Italia in May, was postponed this month.

Organizers of Wimbledon meet next week to decide on this year’s tennis tournament, scheduled for June 29-July 12. The French Open, normally in late May and June, is pushed back to Sept. 20-Oct. 4.

Tour organizers declined to comment Thursday when asked whether plans to host the race as planned this summer have changed, or whether a race without fans could be an option.

The last time the Tour was not held was in 1946, with the nation emerging from the second world war. It was also stopped during WWI.

Five-time Tour champion Bernard Hinault — the last Frenchman to win the race — cautioned against it going ahead amid the uncertainty of how long the epidemic will last.

“There’s a crazy illness which is spreading and, if it happens to last months, we shouldn’t hesitate to call it off,” he said in an interview with French daily Le Parisien on March 18. “We should ask ourselves if it’s reasonable to allow people to go out on the roads if there’s still a risk … The Tour de France is a fantastic party. But it’s less important than life.”

55-year-old man second reported death in Pitkin County related to COVID-19

A 55-year-old man confirmed Friday as Aspen’s second COVID-19-related death lay dead in his home for two days before he was found by police officers during a welfare check, an official said.

Pauli Laukkanen was found Tuesday and “had reported minimal symptoms of night sweats and fever several days before his death” but died Sunday, according to a news release from Pitkin County Coroner Steve Ayers. Confirmation that Laukkanen died of COVID-19 complications came Friday, the release states.

“(Laukkanen) was from Sweden but has lived in Aspen for many years,” according to the release.

A 94-year-old man who died at his Aspen home Tuesday was confirmed Thursday as Pitkin County’s first death related to the coronavirus. The man’s identity was still not available Friday pending notification of next of kin, Ayers said Friday afternoon.

Pitkin County officials are awaiting COVID-19 test results on one more recent death in the county, though they don’t believe it’s related to the virus, he said.

Through Thursday, Colorado public health officials reported 1,734 total cases in 42 of the state’s 64 counties, with 31 deaths and 239 people hospitalized, according to the agency’s website. Pitkin County had 25 positive COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, according to the state’s website.

Much of the county’s population — including Aspen — is under orders from the Pitkin County Public Health Department and Gov. Jared Polis to remain at home in an effort to control spread of the virus. Officials have asked visitors and second homeowners to return to their primary places of residence during the pandemic.

Along those lines, all short-term rental businesses, including hotels and lodges, were ordered to cease operations, to comply with local and state health orders requiring all persons to shelter in place and limit transmission of coronavirus in the community, according to a news release Friday from the city of Aspen.

The city forbade further bookings or occupancy of short-term rentals in Aspen until public health orders have been lifted, the release states.

Short-term rentals are classified as lodge and residential properties that are available for occupancy for a period less than 30 consecutive days.

The announcement includes hotels, motels, lodges, condo-hotels, bed and breakfasts, and any other lodging types as defined by the city. Privately-owned residential property within the city limits being used as a short-term rental, whether through an online booking service, local property manager, or any other means, and with or without a valid city vacation rental permit also was included.

Exemptions are limited to local residents using short-term rentals as a permanent residence, anyone in quarantine or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and self-isolating, or anyone able to demonstrate good cause for maintaining residence in a short-term rental to comply with public health orders.

Libations: An in-home cocktail crawl

I’m not exactly known for my skills on the opposite end of a bar. I can whip out an opener from my back pocket like John Wayne on the quickdraw and crack a beer, but other than a whiskey coke, my cocktail-mixing prowess is disspectacular.

If you’re like me and panic-bought enough plastic handles of vodka to fill a bathtub, fear not: Your quarantine has been saved from cheap, depressing soda concoctions.

By the power of the amendments or something, alcoholic beverage delivery is now legal and being offered by an assortment of valley F&B establishments.

In memoriam of Aspen’s staple summer festival, the Food & Wine Classic, I’m going through a four-course liquid diet of the premade cocktail offerings Marble Distilling Co. will bring to your door in these might-as-well-drink-all-day times.


Consistency is key for a top-shelf BM, as in you don’t want to feel like you’re sucking tomato soup from a straw. In addition to being drinkable even sans beer floater, this bloody packs plenty of flavor without being offensively spicy. Don’t forget to eat the veggies after finishing your drink. Remember, you want to start off the day with some nutrition and not Jimmy Dean biscuit sandwiches all the time. Pairs well: Frozen waffle, hashbrowns, egg over medium, tobasco.


The trick to maintaining a manageable BAC throughout the day is by not getting Dia de Los Muertos wasted at noon. Instead of a blender full of tequila, consider a more crisp party drink to be consumed either solo or dolo that utilizes Marble Distilling Co.’s unique Gingercello. Yes, we’ve been robbed of a springtime and — just guessing — probably summer. But we can still witness the warm seasons evolve through our windows while sipping a marg that tastes like optimism.

Pairs with: Microwave burritos. But to make it fancy, stick ’em in the oven 😉


Smooth whiskey with a citrusy finish, complete with orange twist and luxardo cherries. Is there a prefix in the English language fancier than “lux”? Pro tip: If your old fashioned singes while heading down the esophagus and you start hacking up a lung, you’re using the wrong ingredients. Or you have the coronas — but circumstantial evidence suggests the former.

This is not that. Pairs well: Boxed mac ‘n’ cheese with tuna.


Who doesn’t look like Jeff “The Big” Lebowski right now? Belly protruding, hair growing, robe wearing, pouring a creamy drink that sticks to 13 days of isolation mustache growth — anyone else? Hello?

Marble Distilling rolls a strike with the Moonlight Expresso version of a white Russian, perfect for a night on the couch after disinfecting your rug.

I’m just glad that when they name a drink after me, the “Caucasian” is already taken. Pairs well: A bowl of ice cream and a bowl of Trop Cookies.

But wait, there’s more! You also receive a free bottle of homebrew-made hand sanitizer with every order of two or more. Considering the prices Purell is going for online, you could even think of it as buying a bottle of sanitizer and getting a bunch of booze as a bonus.

“If we work together as a community, I truly believe we’re going to get through all of this,” head distiller Connie Baker said in an interview with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. “It’s not going to be easy, but we can help each other out in any way we can.”

Some people need help keeping their hands clean; others need help keeping a drink on the table. Marble Distilling is taking care of both necessities.