Pitkin County’s COVID numbers rapidly decreasing | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County’s COVID numbers rapidly decreasing

Nurse Practitioner Lisa Robbiano, left, listens to Fabiola Grajales’s lungs in her car next to the MIRA COVID-19 testing bus in El Jebel on April 16, 2020.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Not one Pitkin County resident or visitor has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 11 days, which is rapidly decreasing the overall positivity rate in the county, an official said Tuesday.

In fact, Pitkin County has logged just five positive cases in the past 14 days, which may be attributable to new precautions put in place recently, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock. Of those five cases, just one was a person who does not live in Pitkin County.

“That trend is quite positive,” he said.

The lack of affirmative COVID-19 cases has driven the overall positivity rate among people in the county to below 3% during the past 14 days, said Charlie Spickert, an epidemiologist working with Pitkin County.

The number of people seeking tests at Aspen Valley Hospital and the number of people in isolation and quarantine also has dropped, Peacock said. As of Tuesday, just one person was in isolation and five were under quarantine.

The spike in cases the county saw in the past month or so was probably due to the impact of Fourth of July festivities, Peacock said.

“That was the real surge we had,” he said. “From one to two weeks after the Fourth going in to August.”

And while it’s too early from an epidemiological standpoint to know for sure, it’s also likely that the county’s lowering the maximum informal group size from 50 to 10 people about a month ago and new area facemask requirements likely helped drive down the numbers as well, Peacock said.

Aspen imposed a mandatory outdoor and indoor facemask zone at the end of July, while Snowmass Village followed suit in three congested areas there about 10 days later. Previously, facemasks were only required inside public buildings and businesses.

“I really believe … that is part of the reason the numbers are decreasing,” Commissioner Patti Clapper said. “I think that’s making a significant difference.”

Community spread — or the number of positive cases that can’t be traced back to specific sources — in the Aspen area remains at about 8%, Peacock said. That puts it about between low and moderate levels, he said.

The main negative in the area is that lab turnaround times continue to hover at about three days. Officials would like to bring that down to below 48 hours, Peacock said.

Meanwhile, the state is likely to issue guidelines around skiing this winter in the next four to five weeks, he said. The state is likely to establish a baseline for ski mountain openings and leave it to local public health agencies to be more specific as to local guidelines, Peacock said.


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