Pitkin County health order to align with state, but will allow for large formal gatherings
With a few local exceptions, Pitkin County will align with the state public health order beginning Wednesday, members of the county Board of Health decided Thursday.
The main difference will be formal group size — which generally requires a permit from the Public Health Department. It will jump from a maximum of 50 people to 100 people at indoor events and 175 people outdoors, said Karen Koenemann, Pitkin County’s public health director.
The informal, non-permitted group size will remain at 10 people, which is designated by state public health order, she said.
Otherwise, the county already aligns with most facets of the state public health order, with the exception of a few areas, Koenemann said.
Face coverings will remain mandatory in Pitkin County, even if county numbers fall far enough to achieve the least restrictive Protect Your Neighbor level, which doesn’t require masks, she said. Also, Pitkin County will continue to require businesses and events to file site safety plans to restrict the spread of COVID-19 and will require all residents and visitors to comply with contact tracing investigations and follow any subsequent isolation or quarantine orders, Koenemann said.
The county will also require all visitors to Aspen and Pitkin County to be free of any virus symptoms for 10 days before traveling here. The county will require any business taking guest reservations to convey that information, as well as the fact that visitors will be required to comply with isolation and quarantine orders if they test positive or are confirmed to have had contact with a positive case.
Finally, the new public health order will require visitors under isolation or quarantine orders to pay for their extra hotel stays, Koenemann said.
A significant number of visitors to Pitkin County — 17 — have tested positive for the virus in the past 14 days, which is a high percentage of so-called out-of-jurisdiction cases, said Dr. Kimberly Levin, the county’s medical officer. During the same period, 13 Pitkin County residents tested positive for the virus, she said.
Thirty cases in two weeks “is a lot,” Levin said, adding that it likely reflects an increase from Labor Day festivities.
“We’re kind of spiking right now,” she said.
However, she said she hopes the county is on the downside of that spike. In addition, she said the county’s overall positivity rate remains below 5%, which is a measure that shows whether enough local testing is being done.
Still, Pitkin County — along with Garfield and Eagle counties — remains in the high category in terms of incidence rate in the state, Levin said.
Aspen Valley Hospital has conducted 606 COVID tests in the past 14 days, which is more than has been done since the pandemic began, Levin said. Out of those 27 were positive, she said.
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