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Eagle County issues updated public health order to slow spread of COVID-19

Eagle County Public Health and Environment has updated the county’s public health order to help meet several key goals in the local response to COVID-19. The goals are to slow the spread of the virus, ensure Eagle County can maintain the medical capacity and continuity to serve the medical needs of residents, to protect the most vulnerable residents who are at greater risk for severe symptoms, and to establish a plan that will help Eagle County recover, socially and economically.

The new order goes into effect immediately. All community members are strongly encouraged to read the entire order. Revisions in the Eagle County order include, but are not limited to:

Extends time frame until April 30

  • This will facilitate the continuation of social distancing efforts necessary to slow the spread of the virus.
  • This will also help prevent strain on the local health care system and ensure medical resources are available for those who need them most. 

Includes requirements for people who are sick

  • Individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate for seven days from the start of symptoms and 72 hours until fever-free, whichever is longer, and as long as symptoms are significantly improving.
  • These apply to people who are confirmed to have COVID-19, and to those who have symptoms consistent with COVD-19 but have not been tested.

Includes requirements for people who have been exposed

  • Individuals who have been in close contact to someone with symptoms of COVID-19 must self-quarantine for 14 days. 
  • This applies to people in close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19, and to people in close contact to someone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but has not been tested.

Adopts state guidelines on critical businesses

  • This new order adopts the same list of critical businesses as defined on page 6 of the state public health order and clarifies social distancing requirements that must be implemented.
  • This requires all businesses allowed to operate under the order to create and visibly post a Social Distancing Protocol, located at the end of the order, explaining how the business is achieving all social distancing, sanitizing and cleaning, and other requirements.
  • All businesses are required to post their protocol by 5 p.m. on April 9.
  • The order recognizes that allowing essential businesses in compliance to operate will provide much needed economic support now, and will facilitate a faster recovery in the months ahead.

Clarifies restrictions on recreational activities

  • The order prohibits the use of recreational areas with high-touch equipment or that encourage gathering. Examples include, but are not limited to, playgrounds, ballfields, basketball courts, tennis courts, golf courses, disc golf courses, skateparks, dog parks, rock parks and climbing walls, pools and spas, and shooting and archery ranges.
  • Dogs are required to be leashed throughout the duration of the order. This will prevent pets from having to be separated by owners, reducing person to person contact and violation of social distancing requirements.
  • Individual outdoor recreation activity, such as hiking, biking or fishing, is still allowed as long as all social distancing requirements are followed.
  • Trails and public lands are open to Eagle County residents only.

Law enforcement agencies throughout Eagle County will use a consistent approach for enforcement of the public health order. This will primarily focus on education to bring about compliance, but can also include fines of up to $5,000 for repeat offenders. Violations of the order can be reported to the non-emergency dispatch number at 970-479-2201.

Public Health officials are reminding the community that Eagle County falls under both the local order and statewide orders. The order that is more restrictive in any category is the one that applies. 

“We are collectively doing a great job here in Eagle County. The revisions to this order help clarify the intent for social distancing within essential services, businesses, and recreational activities,” said Heath Harmon, Eagle County director of Public Health and Environment. “We are all interested in when we can relax some of these restrictions. And although we have a number of weeks to go still, we must aim for newly reported deaths and infections to be close to zero, while ensuring mechanisms will rapidly identify and isolate newly infected people, as well as quarantining those with whom they have had close contact.”

In addition, revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now encourages people to wear a non-medical, cloth face covering when going out in public. Local officials are urging people not to buy surgical masks, which are needed by health care workers and first responders. Officials are also warning against having a false sense of security when wearing a mask. Maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others is still required as outlined in this order and is the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19, regardless of a face covering.

Information and regular updates are being shared at http://www.ECEmergency.org. The county’s forum for COVID-19 discussions is at http://www.facebook.com/OneValleyVoice. Those with questions not answered through the two previous resources can email covidquestions@eaglecounty.us or call 970-328-9750.

Roaring Fork Schools providing grab-and-go meals for all children during school closure

The Roaring Fork Schools will join Garfield Re-2 in providing free meals to all children during the ongoing school closure, beginning Monday, March 30 through the current mandated schools closure of April 17.

According to a Roaring Fork School District news release, all children 18 years of age and under will receive one breakfast and one lunch per day, regardless of where the child attends school.

“This program is not just for low-income households. it is for all children — no qualifications are required,” according to the release. 

“In recent weeks we have seen the shelves of our grocery stores empty. We know the need for food is great,” RFSD Food Services Director Michelle Hammond said in the release. “The Nutrition Service team is anxious to meet this basic need for the children of our community.”

Children do not have to be present to receive a meal; parents and guardians can pick up meals for their children.

Meals will be provided at 10 a.m. on weekdays in designated locations in each community, including specific school sites — Glenwood Springs Elementary School, Crystal River Elementary in Carbondale and Basalt Elementary — and at certain school bus route stops on a rolling schedule.

The locations and times are listed on the district website here. The meal delivery schedule may change in response to program participation and need, and any changes will be communicated immediately, according to the release.

“After each day, we are hoping to learn how we can continue to make this program better,” Jeff Gatlin, Chief Operating Officer for the district, said. “Whether it is the quantity of meals or the locations identified, our goal is to adjust as needed to ensure we are meeting the needs of our families and communities.”

Garfield Re-2 Schools began distributing pre-packaged meals on March 16, the first day of the state-ordered school closures. Any child 18 and under can get a free breakfast from 8 to 8:30 a.m. at any one of the following locations:

Rifle — Davidson Park, Cottonwood Park, Joyce Park, Centennial Park; Silt — Heron’s Nest RV Park; New Castle — Burning Mountain Park or Apple Tree Park. Lunches are available at the same locations from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The programs were made possible because the Colorado Department of Education received a waiver from the USDA that allows schools to offer an emergency feeding program that does not require meals to be provided in a group setting during the unanticipated school closure due to COVID-19. 

“Nutrition Service staff have been identified as essential employees and they have generously accepted this responsibility,” Hammond said. “I am sincerely grateful to each staff member for their selfless commitment ensuring meals will be provided.”

Las escuelas Roaring Fork ofrecen servicio de comida para llevar a todos los niños durante el cierre escolar. 

Las escuelas Roaring Fork proporcionarán comidas gratuitas y nutritivas a todos los niños durante el próximo cierre escolar que comenzará el lunes 30 de marzo hasta el viernes 17 de abril.

Todos los niños menores de 18 años recibirán un desayuno y un almuerzo por día, independientemente de donde el niño asista a la escuela. Este programa no es sólo para los hogares de bajos ingresos: es para todos los niños – No es necesario calificar para este servicio. 

“En las últimas semanas hemos visto vacías las estanterías de nuestras tiendas de comestibles. Sabemos que la necesidad de comida es grande”, dijo la Directora de Servicios de Alimentos Michelle Hammond. “El equipo del Servicio de Nutrición está ansioso por satisfacer esta necesidad básica para los niños de nuestra comunidad.”

Los niños no tienen que estar presentes para recibir su comida; los padres y guardianes pueden recoger las comidas para sus hijos. Las comidas se proporcionarán de lunes a viernes en lugares designados en cada comunidad, incluyendo escuelas específicas y paradas en las rutas de autobús. Los lugares y las horas están detallados en la página web del distrito aquí. Este horario de entrega de comidas puede cambiar en respuesta a la participación y necesidad del programa. Cualquier cambio será comunicado inmediatamente. 

“Después de cada día, esperamos aprender cómo podemos seguir mejorando este programa,” dijo el director de operaciones Jeff Gatlin. “Ya sea que se trate de la cantidad de comidas o de los lugares identificados, nuestro objetivo es ajustar según sea necesario para asegurarnos de que estamos satisfaciendo las necesidades de nuestras familias y comunidades”.

Este programa es posible gracias a que el Departamento de Educación de Colorado recibió una exención del USDA que permite a las escuelas ofrecer un programa de alimentación de emergencia que no requiere que las comidas se proporcionen en un entorno de grupo durante el cierre imprevisto de la escuela debido a COVID-19. 

“El personal del Servicio de Nutrición ha sido identificado como empleados esenciales y han aceptado generosamente esta responsabilidad”, dijo Hammond. “Estoy sinceramente agradecido a cada miembro del personal por su generoso compromiso de asegurar que las comidas sean distribuidas.”

Gov. Jared Polis issues statewide ‘stay at home’ order until at least April 11

DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday he is issuing a statewide stay-at-home order in an attempt to stem the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Polis said he is taking this “extreme measure,” effective Thursday until April 11, because the restrictions taken to date haven’t been enough to reduce the spread of the virus.

“If we don’t take these actions that we are taking today, and frankly, if you don’t stay home, this will create a much worse economic disaster with greater disruption, greater loss of jobs for a longer period of time,” he said at a news conference.

People should only leave home when they absolutely must, he said, for grocery shopping, to seek medical care or to care for dependents, for example.

Polis said state officials have measured the effect of social distancing restrictions by tracking people’s cellphone location data, real-time traffic information and other such metadata sources.

“The bottom line is, I don’t have the comfort level that the existing extreme measures that we’ve taken to date are enough to buy us the time we need to save lives here in Colorado,” he said.

The order comes after six Colorado counties issued stay-at-home directives affecting nearly 3 million people to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients. The Denver, Aspen and Telluride areas had previously issued stay-at-home orders.

As of Wednesday, 1,086 people in Colorado have tested positive for the coronavirus and 19 have died. The number of people hospitalized by the disease doubled overnight, and about 15% of people who were tested after showing symptoms have the coronavirus, said Polis, who has submitted a formal request for President Donald Trump to declare Colorado a major disaster area.

The governor also said he supported the $2 trillion economic relief deal that was moving through Congress, which would be the largest in U.S. history. The measure would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and help small businesses pay employees who are forced to stay home.

“When Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump agree, you know that it’s important,” Polis said.

For most people, the 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. The vast majority of people recover.

People did not seem to be taking previous warnings and actions, like the closure of restaurants, seriously, and false information, such as COVID-19 being akin to the flu, has persisted, Jefferson County Public Health executive director Mark Johnson said. He hopes the orders help make people realize how serious the outbreak is.

“This is truly the greatest public health crisis this nation has seen at least since 1918,” he said.

Meanwhile, medical staffers based at Colorado’s Fort Carson are being deployed to Washington State to back up doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients in one of the nation’s hardest-hit areas. More than 300 members of the 627th Hospital Center will head to Washington to provide supplemental routine and emergency medical care to help free up Washington providers to focus on detecting and treating patients believed to have been exposed to COVID-19, Fort Carson announced Tuesday.

Within hours of deploying, the unit is capable of establishing a 148-bed full-service hospital even in the most austere conditions, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette. The hospitals can be in customized tents or repurposed civilian buildings.

LIFT-UP receives emergency food assistance grant from Garfield County

Garfield County commissioners extended the coronavirus pandemic local disaster emergency Monday, and authorized a $100,000 emergency food assistance grant to LIFT-UP to help ensure no one in the county goes hungry.

LIFT-UP is in the process of developing plans to increase distribution at mobile pop-ups across the county.

Last year, LIFT-UP served 625 families per month on average, but the new grant would allow them to serve far more as people deal with the medical, and economic costs of COVID-19.

“With this new plan, we believe we would be able to serve 700 families every week,” Angela Mills, executive director of LIFT-UP, told the commissioners by phone at Monday’s meeting.

The commissioners unanimously approved the emergency grant given the importance of food security in uncertain economic times.

“I don’t want anybody to go hungry during this in Garfield County,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.

If additional funding is required to make that happen, Jankovsky said LIFT-Up should return to request it.

“If for some reason you have to go up to 800 or 900 families per week, then do that and come back for additional funding,” Jankovsky said.

LIFT-UP will begin distributing the meals two days per week in most cities and towns in Garfield County, and once per week in Parachute.

In Rifle, distribution will take place at the Garfield County Fairgrounds.

The distribution process would also be similar LIFT-Up’s Friday’s distribution, with drive-up pickup, and very little contact with intake staff.

LIFT-UP’s Extended Table program has shifted to a grab-and-go prepared meal kit.

Jankovsky also said it would be prudent to plan on the increased distribution through the month of May, as the economic recovery from social distancing could last for some time after the peak of the pandemic.

The county’s emergency reserve fund currently has more than $3 million. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office also has access to $500,000 for declared emergencies. That fund is usually used to deal with wildfire emergencies.

The county’s new disaster emergency declaration extends the March 17 declaration indefinitely by tying it to Colorado’s state of emergency.

For now, Garfield County’s emergency declaration regarding COVID-19 will be in place until the state says it’s lifted, but the resolution “also allows the commissioners to at any point take charge of it, and make your own decision too,” county attorney Tari Williams said.

The Garfield County Public Health Department has also aligned their orders with Gov. Jared Polis’ orders to maintain consistency.

The state’s orders change from day to day as the pandemic response shifts, Garfield County Public Health director Yvonne Long told the commissioners.

Aligning the local orders to the state’s orders made sense to reduce confusion and local staff efforts, Long said.

“We felt at this particular time that was the better way to go, rather than try to rewrite them every day,” Long said.

To volunteer with LIFT-UP, call 970-456-2804. LIFT-UP is also looking for donations of new reusable shopping bags and nonperishable food items.


Sunlight shuts down uphill traffic amid health department advisories, conditions

Sunlight Mountain Resort has now closed the ski mountain to all activities, including uphill travel, due to deteriorating snow conditions and in accordance with public health concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The small ski area outside Glenwood Springs announced the closure in a Facebook post and press alert Monday morning.

Sunlight closed last week after Gov. Jared Polis ordered a temporary closure until mid-April of all ski resorts in the state amid growing concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus, especially in Colorado’s ski resort communities.

Sunlight decided to go ahead and close for the season, which was to end April 5 anyway but was still allowing uphill enthusiasts to continue to trek up the mountain under their own power, even if the lifts were closed.

“Conditions are thawing and lower sections are starting to become muddy,” Sunlight officials said in their Facebook post announcing the new restriction. The decision is also “in accordance to public health recommendations issued by the state and Garfield County.”

“We saw a few hundred uphillers over the weekend,” Sunlight Sales and Marketing Director Troy Hawks said in a followup email. “I didn’t witness any groups of more than 10 — people were maintaining the minimum ski-length distance apart while on the mountain, but of course the upper warming hut has limited capacity. The hut is also now closed.” 

Sunlight maintenance crews have also now plowed out Grizzly Road, which they normally do soon after the lifts close so that staff can access the mountain to do their post-season work.

Trails in the adjacent in Babbish Gulch area do remain open to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. However, users are advised to maintain state and county recommendations to travel in smaller groups and maintain “social distancing” precautions.

After the state’s ski resorts shut down March 15, many enthusiasts continued to access the terrain by using traction skins to get up the mountains, and then skiing down.

Some ski areas, including all of the Vail Resorts-owned mountains, eventually closed to uphill traffic also for fear of skiers accessing steeper terrain that was no longer being maintained for avalanche control.


After panic buying, Denver Mayor reopens liquor, pot shops but keeps ‘stay at home’ order in place

DENVER — Denver issued a stay at home order Monday limiting most people to going out only for essentials such as groceries, medication and exercise as officials try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Under the order from Mayor Michael Hancock, businesses that are not considered “essential” must be closed starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday until at least April 10.

The closures initially included liquor stores and recreational marijuana shops, but Hancock later amended the order to allow those businesses to remain open as long “extreme physical distancing” is in place. Residents flocked to liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries and queued in long lines shortly after Hancock issued the initial order.

Construction projects, mass transit and ride shares could still proceed.

The move came a day after Gov. Jared Polis ordered non-essential businesses to cut their in-person workforces by at least half and appealed to people’s sense of duty to spend as much time at home as possible rather than issuing an order.

Hancock said he understands Polis’ decision since parts of Colorado still have not seen a case of COVID-19. However, he said Denver, as the state’s most densely populated city and site of the most cases, needed to protect its residents and, by extension, the rest of the state since Denver hospitals often treat patients from around Colorado who need specialized care.

“We can’t let our hospitals get overwhelmed,” he said.

Minority Republicans in Colorado’s House of representatives responded by asking businesses to make their case for staying open at a state GOP website in case a statewide shelter-in-place order is issued. Polis has not ruled out such an option.

In other developments related to the coronavirus:

— Colorado’s health department said it was sending COVID-19 testing kits Monday to another mountain community as it works to learn the extent of the spread of the coronavirus in the state. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the kits would be used for a drive-through testing site operated by the Colorado National Guard in Montrose County. It will serve about 100 high-risk patients who have been pre-selected by doctors for testing.

— The state said it is shipping equipment from the federal government’s strategic stockpile to communities around the state, including 49,200 N95 masks, 115,000 surgical masks, 21,420 surgical gowns, 21,800 face shields and 84 coveralls. However the state health department estimated that would only be enough to supply health care workers for about a day.

— Denver’s National Jewish Hospital, which specializes in treating respiratory diseases, said it was setting up a clinic to help treat those infected by the coronavirus or other acute respiratory illnesses as a way to relieve pressure on emergency rooms. Clinic patients will enter through a separate entrance and examined in rooms with negative air pressure to keep germs from spreading.

Summit County orders widespread business closures to help contain COVID-19 spread

DILLON — Summit County officials issued a public health order Monday afternoon, announcing sweeping business closures throughout the area to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The order will include all municipalities and according to the county, the closures will last indefinitely.

Only banks, grocery stores, liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, pharmacies and gas stations will remain open.

According to a statement from the county, dine-in activity in all restaurants, bars and cafeterias in Summit County will be prohibited beginning at 10 p.m. Monday. Restaurants will be allowed to continue providing delivery and take-out options. 

“Our restaurant owners and their employees work hard every day to ensure food safety for their customers by practicing good handwashing, preventing cross contamination and excluding sick employees,” Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland said in a news release that confirmed the order to close. “During this COVID-19 response, they are working even harder to ensure that the food they produce is safe. Because the primary mode of COVID-19 transmission is person-to-person — not through the preparation, service and consumption of food — we believe that take-out and delivery services pose very low risk to the public and serve a critical need in the community.”

In addition, the Summit Stage and Breckenridge Free Ride bus services will be suspended at the end of service Monday and will not resume until further notice. Ride share services will be permitted to operate until 11:59 p.m. Monday, and service will be suspended afterward. All shuttle services will be allowed to operate until noon Thursday, though county officials are emphasizing that such services should only be used for transporting visitors out of the county or residents back to the area.

All retail businesses that see foot traffic from the general public also will be required to close effective 10 p.m. Monday. All lodging businesses — including hotels, motels, timeshares and short-term rentals — are required to be closed by noon Thursday.

According to the county, the closures will last indefinitely, meaning the length of the closure is undetermined. As of Monday, Summit County has had two positive cases of COVID-19. The first is still in isolation in the Denver area. The second is in isolation in Frisco. Forty-seven Summit County residents and visitors have been tested. So far, 11 have tested negative, two have tested positive and 34 are still pending.

With the closures, Summit County joins a number of other communities around the country making changes to business practices in response to the disease — including statewide closures in California, Illinois, Ohio and more. Breckenridge Town Manager Rock Holman noted that the county’s new restrictions were modeled after similar efforts in Gunnison and Crested Butte.

For business owners, even if the move seems to make sense, the news is still disappointing.

“You really can’t do social distancing in a restaurant,” said Jimmy Walker, head brewer at Breckenridge Brewery and Pub, which closed down preemptively Sunday because of the disease. “You’re touching too many credit cards and people and pens and money. You’re always close to people …

“I finished the brew-day watching people make their way down the south end of Breckenridge, and it was heartbreaking to have to turn them all away. You think of all the visitors and people on vacation. We’re in the service industry, but we’re here to make people happy. It’s tough.”

Taylor Sienkiewicz contributed in reporting this story.

Roaring Fork Schools cancel classes for next week amid heightened COVID-19 concerns

Spring break for the Roaring Fork Schools will be extended to include an extra three days next week, in the ongoing effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt had already planned to take March 19-29 off for spring break — part of an intentional extended break this year.

The precautionary closure extends the planned break an extra three days, Monday through Wednesday.

It comes on the heels of a decision by the Aspen School District earlier Friday to close school an extra week beyond spring break next week, as well.

Both state charter schools located within the district, Two Rivers Community School in Glenwood Springs and Ross Montessori School in Carbondale, as well as the private St. Stephen Catholic School in Glenwood, are following suit.

RFSD Superintendent Rob Stein said the decision was made in consultation with Garfield County Public Health.

“Closing our schools is a precaution against spreading COVID-19 in our communities,” he said in a letter sent to parents early Friday afternoon.

“This closure will give our custodial team additional time to deep clean our schools,” Stein continued.

The district anticipates reopening schools on March 30. However, further school closure determinations will be made in consultation with public health authorities, Stein said.

“We will monitor this situation closely as it unfolds over the next two weeks and will communicate our plans,” he said.

During the extended closure, there will not be an expectation for student distance learning, though learning materials may be sent home with students to try to keep them engaged during the break, Stein added.

“We encourage all families to support their children in continuing with learning during the closure,” he said. “In the event that we close our schools beyond March 29, we will provide optional educational resources to support students.”

The district will not need to make up the three days, and the Colorado Department of Education has indicated it will make an exception even for districts that would have to make up any lost days due to the COVID-19 closures.

Charter school and St. Stephen officials said they typically follow any district closures, and will do so in this instance.

“We determined our best course of action with all of the uncertainty was to partner with Roaring Fork Schools,” Two Rivers Head of School Jamie Nims said. “The hope is to maximize efficiency and minimize confusion for families in the valley.”

St. Stephen Principal Glenda Oliver concurred, and said the school will determine if it will reopen on March 30.

“If we do not open on March 30, we will be providing our families with distance learning through the duration of this social distancing closure,” Oliver said.

Added Sonya Hemmen, head of school for Ross Montessori, “As a Colorado Charter Institute-authorized school, we follow the local district’s call and will follow suit. We have been very active, as has the RFSD, in preparing for this eventuality.”

Stein acknowledged that any closure extensions beyond March 30 will create an extra burden for families with students who rely on school meals.

Many of our students rely on our school breakfast and lunch program for their nutritional needs,” he said in the parent letter.

If further closures are necessary, the district will provide more information on ways meals can still be provided, he said.

“Our goal is to reduce isolation, maintain connections to classmates and school, and maintain academic engagement during the school closure,” Stein said.


Eagle County woman in her 70s among latest cases of coronavirus in Colorado

Eagle County Public Health and Environment is reporting the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county. 

The patient is an Eagle County woman in her 70s with a recent travel history within the United States. The patient had mild symptoms, was not hospitalized and is recovering in isolation. The patient is working with public health officials in the ongoing investigation to identify people that may have had close contact with her. The case is presumptive positive, which means test results haven’t yet been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The woman is one of two new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, based on 21 tests completed between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s state lab identified the two new presumptive positive cases.

The second presumptive positive is a Denver County woman in her 30s with no known contact with an infected person and no recent travel.

Additionally, there was one case that resulted in two separate indeterminate results; this means that the test did not provide conclusive results. Per Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, CDPHE must send that test to the CDC for additional testing. Out of an abundance of caution, CDPHE will treat that individual as a positive case until we receive conclusive results.

The indeterminate case is a female in her 70s in Denver County who has no known contact with an infected person but does have a recent history of travel in the United States.


Pitkin County Public Health officials have a few ways to get updates on the coronavirus:

— Local information can be found at pitkincounty.com/coronavirus.

— A Pitkin County Public Health Facebook page has been launched to share information.

— Subscribe to Pitkin Alert for text message updates. Text the number 888 777 and write CVIRUS in the message.

— Real-time information about the virus is available on the Colorado Health Emergency Hotline: 1-877-462-2911.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Symptom and how to protect yourself

These cases are in addition to one presumptive positive case announced this morning, for a total of three new presumptive positive cases on Monday and one indeterminate case being treated as positive until CDC can confirm results. 

Those with questions about COVID-19 can call the CO HELP Hotline at 1-877-462-2911. Community updates and resources are being shared at http://www.ECEmergency.org

Please see additional information from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment in the organization’s press release, available at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/news/two-new-presumptive-positive-cases-covid-19-identified-colorado-today

For total numbers of cases to date in Colorado, visit the CDPHECOVID-19 Fast Facts Page.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting colorado.gov/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus

Coronavirus in Eagle County: Woman in her 50s is first presumptive positive case of COVID-19

A woman in her 50s visiting Eagle County is among the six new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 identified Friday in Colorado. The woman was exposed to COVID-19, the new coronavirus, during international travel. As local COVID-19 concerns increased, Friday afternoon Vail Health began screening patients prior to entrance into the Vail hospital

The patient in Eagle County was not hospitalized and is recovering in isolation. The patient is working with public health officials in the ongoing investigation to identify people that may have had close exposure. The case is presumptive positive, which means test results haven’t yet been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Eagle County Department of Public Health and Environment also announced Friday that a potential patient connected to Eagle County Schools returned a negative test.


Pitkin County Public Health officials have a few ways to get updates on the coronavirus:

— Local information can be found at pitkincounty.com/coronavirus.

— A Pitkin County Public Health Facebook page has been launched to share information.

— Subscribe to Pitkin Alert for text message updates. Text the number 888 777 and write CVIRUS in the message.

— Real-time information about the virus is available on the Colorado Health Emergency Hotline: 1-877-462-2911.

Friday update: Pitkin County officials said as of 5 p.m. Friday they did not have any persons under investigation (PUIs) and have not sent out any tests to the state.

On Wednesday, after Eagle County Schools learned that the CDC had changed its guidelines on travel from Italy, Iran, and South Korea, it alerted students and staff members from Battle Mountain High School who had traveled to Italy in February.

“Consequently, our students and staff who went on the trip to Italy will need to stay home for the remainder of their self-monitoring period, which ends at 6 am on Saturday, as long as they are symptom-free,” read an email sent to Battle Mountain students and parents. “These students have been complying with the prior CDC protocol of self-monitoring for symptoms. One of the symptoms is fever, a condition that requires students and staff to stay home until they have been fever-free for 24-hours without the aid of medication anyway. With that in mind, we believe asking them to remain at home for the next few days is a technical requirement and nothing for concern. Symptoms may still develop and we are prepared with a response plan should it be necessary.”

In a news release, Eagle County Schools Superintendent Phil Qualman wrote “the patient’s parent emailed several other parents and staff members this news, connecting the case to our school system. The results of other tests in the county, none related to our schools, are still pending.

“There are many people in Eagle County who traveled to/from countries that have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks in recent weeks. Some are students and teachers in our system. Those in our system have all followed the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Eagle County Department of Public Health (Public Health) to self-monitor for COVID19 symptoms, fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.”

Latest from Summit County

On Thursday afternoon, a man tested positive for novel coronavirus in Summit County, the first known case of the disease in Colorado. During his time in the state, he skied at both Vail and Keystone.

Colorado and Summit County public health officials have been hard at work in a process called “contact tracing,” essentially trying to backtrack through the patient’s steps during his time in the area to identify individuals who came in close contact with him and determine whether they might have been exposed to the virus.

According to officials, the patient likely didn’t interact closely with many people after he began showing symptoms. He flew into Denver International Airport from California on Feb. 29 and drove a rental car to Summit County. Throughout his travels, he was asymptomatic and extremely unlikely to have spread the disease, officials said.

He first began showing initial symptoms Monday, March 2, a day he was skiing at Vail Mountain, according to Dan Hendershott, Summit County’s environmental health manager. He returned to his rental unit in Keystone and was sick the next day. On Wednesday, March 4, he was informed that a travel companion with whom he recently went to Italy had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and he reached out directly to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to inform them he might have contracted the disease.

He checked into St. Anthony Summit Medical Center later that day. Summit County officials have since lauded the man for taking steps to mitigate the potential spread of the illness. He was driven down to the Front Range by his fiancee, and he is currently recovering in isolation. His fiancee and two Denver friends with whom he was staying in Summit County have all been quarantined, as well.

COVID-19 in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s state lab had six additional presumptive positive tests Friday, which includes the Eagle County patient, following the first two positives on Thursday. At least five of the cases had an international travel history. The state is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on flights that may have had a COVID-19 case.  

The health department is releasing the following information about the other six cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. 

Denver County

  • One case in a man in his 40s. The investigation is ongoing. 
  • One case in a woman in her 70s, exposed during international travel.

Douglas County

  • One case in a school-aged female, exposed during international travel.
  • One case in a woman in her 40s, exposed during international travel. 
  • One case in a woman in her 70s, exposed during international travel. 

El Paso County

  • One case in a man in his 40s. The investigation is ongoing.

This week, the state laboratory expanded testing guidelines to ensure early detection– and slow down and limit transmission. 

“The increase in positive tests is not unexpected, and based on the experience of other states, the public health and health care systems have been preparing for additional cases,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, a former Eagle County Commissioner who is now the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Eagle County Public Health and its partners will focus their response efforts on slowing the spread of the disease, which will require the community’s assistance. 

Although more than 80% of people who have contracted COVID-19 have relatively mild illness, there are greater risks for complications among older adults, especially above the age of 80 years, as well as people with pre-existing health conditions.  

Identification of the first case in Eagle County is an important indicator. Health officials are reminding residents and guests that the individual precautions they can take to limit their exposure are the same precautions that can help slow the spread of COVID-19  within the community.  These precautions will also help protect people in our community who may be at greatest risk for complications if they get infected.

Protect yourself

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating or touching your mouth and nose.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

What to do if you’re sick

  • Stay home if you develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath. 
  • Wear a mask or cover your cough and sneeze.
  • Wash your hands frequently and don’t share personal items (drinking glass or utensils) with others.
  • Call your healthcare provider. Do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or the emergency department unannounced.
  • Your doctor’s office will assess your illness on the phone and provide information or guidance for you, household members, and other close contacts.
  • Testing for COVID-19 is not a routine test. Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and risk for the disease based on guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  
  • Since many of the illnesses are mild, we expect most COVID-19 patients will be isolated in their own home to rest and recover. If possible, sleep in a bedroom and use a bathroom that is not used by other household members.
  • There is no antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids will likely be helpful for recovery. Only the most critically ill will be hospitalized.

Public Health officials also recommend residents prepare for an emergency that might require them to stay at home for several days, including having food supplies, water and medications.

Those with questions about COVID-19 can call the CO HELP Hotline at 1-877-462-2911. Updates or changes in guidance will be posted to http://www.ECEmergency.org.

This is a developing story that will be updated. This story includes reports from the Summit Daily News.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the woman was visiting Eagle County and is not a resident.