Aspen’s electeds to set aside $200K in emergency funds amidst COVID-19 crisis

Aspen City Hall.
Aspen Times file photo

Aspen City Council will make two unprecedented moves Tuesday when it is expected to appropriate $200,000 in emergency funds for local residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis while conducting its regular meeting electronically to comply with public health orders demanding social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

City Manager Sara Ott told The Aspen Times last week that the economic relief assistance for individuals and families in the city will be administered through Pitkin County Human Services with an intergovernmental agreement.

The city’s contribution will leverage additional county, state and federal dollars to help people who are economically vulnerable right now.

The money will help those who need help paying the rent, buying food or child care assistance.

“This won’t be the only time these funding issues come up,” Ott wrote in an email. “This initial recommendation is to help bridge the gap between immediate needs and possible future reimbursements to the city from state and federal relief packages.”

City Council members will be allowed to participate in Tuesday’s regular meeting electronically, either by phone or video conferencing, according to a resolution that elected officials will consider.

However, at least one elected official will be present in council chambers to conduct the meeting.

Members of the public can participate via telephone, as long as they notify the City Clerk’s Office 15 minutes prior to Tuesday’s 5 p.m. meeting.

They can do that by calling 970-920-5001 or

While the city remains under a state of emergency due to community spread of the highly contagious COVID-19, council meetings will continue to be conducted in this manner.

Council meetings will continue to be broadcast to the public through GrassRoots TV, the city’s website and Facebook.

The city’s steps are in response to public health orders issued by the state and the county that limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer, with the recommendation that they remain 6 feet apart.

Restaurants and bars are limited to take-out food or delivery only and the ski areas have been shuttered for the season.

Meanwhile, limited testing for COVID-19 is occurring in the Aspen area due to resource constraints in the state and country.

Only those with severe symptoms, or are part of the vulnerable population of being elderly or have compromised immune systems may get tested at Aspen Valley Hospital after they’ve been prescreened.

People with symptoms, or think they’ve been in contact with someone who have COVID-19 should isolate themselves at home between seven and 14 days, according to public health officials.

They are asked to call their physician first or the county’s incident management team’s hotline at 970-429-6186 where they will be prescreened.

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