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City of Aspen buildings remain open, except Wheeler Opera House

City decides to close Wheeler due to high transmission of COVID-19 cases; Pitkin County buildings, including library, remain open

While the city of Aspen-owned Wheeler Opera House has closed to the public this week due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, other municipal government-run buildings like the recreation center, ice garden and the Red Brick will remain open.

“The Wheeler is different from other city facilities and that all three of the different postponed shows were nearly sold out, so that could have been the largest gathering of people this week in Pitkin County, and theater seating is such that people are in close proximity for an extended period of time,” Assistant City Manager Diane Foster said Monday via email. “Although the Wheeler COVID protocols have been strictly enforced, where the COVID transmissibility and positivity rates are so high within our county we thought it was in the best interest of our community, employees and visitors to postpone.”

According to Pitkin County’s COVID-19 data dashboard, the county’s seven-day incident rate spiked at more than 2,000 per 100,000 residents over the holiday weekend. In the past two weeks, the incident rate has gone from 135 on Dec. 13 to 546 on Dec. 20 to 2,000 on Sunday. The case counts have gone from 24 on Dec. 13 to 97 on Dec. 20 to 268 on Sunday (and spiked at 278 on Dec. 24). The positivity rate has increased from 6.5% on Dec. 13 to 31.3% on Saturday.



All Pitkin County buildings remain open, including the popular library, deputy county manager Phyllis Mattice said Monday. The county is advising its employees to work from home for the next two weeks if their job allows “until we see what our case count is in the next couple of weeks,” she said.

Aspen senior staff also are encouraging employees who can work remotely this week, without an interruption to operations, to do so.




“If Pitkin County provides any updated guidance, we will comply,” Foster wrote.

Mattice said Monday county officials are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning to discuss the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest recommendations on quarantining. U.S. health officials on Monday cut isolation restrictions for those who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine, according to the Associated Press. As well, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updated its guidance to match the CDC recommendations.

CDC officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

The Aspen Police Department has adjusted its front desk operations to be by appointment only, which includes VIN inspections. More information can be found at aspenpolice.com, or by calling 970-920-5400.

For more information on where to get tested or vaccinations locally, go to the county’s website at covid19.pitkincounty.org.


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