Pitkin County officials to extend local stay-at-home order until May 8
Public health officials plan to extend Pitkin County’s stay-at-home order another week until May 8, then a modified version of the state’s “safer at home” order will be implemented after that, county officials said Monday.
“We want to be conservative and not open it up too fast,” Bill Linn, spokesman for the local team managing the response to the virus outbreak, told The Aspen Times on Monday. “That (week delay) will allow us to look at the impacts of opening up construction and landscaping, and whether we have the infrastructure in place to deal with COVID impacts.”
More detail about the changes will be presented Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. during an emergency meeting of the Pitkin County Board of Health. The changes, however, will not be adopted until another emergency health board meeting Thursday, Linn said.
Pitkin County’s current stay-at-home order is set to expire Thursday.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in a news conference Monday afternoon went over the steps for the state’s safer-at-home changes, which went into effect Monday. Any city or county health orders that are more stringent supersede those of the state.
The governor said Monday that local governments “can continue to have more restrictive orders” if they have more concerns.
“Make sure you’re following any local law or restriction as well,” Polis said.
He later said that Colorado’s mountain communities are not ready yet for visitors and “I encourage residents of other states not to recreate in Colorado.”
The Aspen City Council passed a resolution Monday night making face masks mandatory within city limits until at least May 27. Face masks are encouraged and recommended by county and state officials, but not mandatory.
Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said the extra week of the county’s stay-at-home order will allow local officials to gather more information about how Polis’ safer-at-home order will work.
“We still need a lot of details about the state order,” Peacock said.
The changes the county will make on May 9 will be discussed at the Board of Health meeting Thursday, according to a news release Monday.
The board “will discuss the businesses included in the relaxation of the health order,” the release states. That order likely would remain in effect for six weeks and will be reviewed in early June.
Pitkin County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann said that not only will the nearly two weeks until May 8 allow the health care community to assess the impact of easing the stay-at-home order underway, it will provide time to help businesses put “risk mitigation safety plans into place,” according to the release.
Officials plan to “prepare clear guidance for and with the business community to increase compliance and minimize confusion” about those plans prior to May 8. That will include a “compliance system” where businesses will have to demonstrate that they’re following COVID-19 regulations, the release states.
Other goals in the near future include continuing to look for “a regional alternate care site to serve as a location for step-down care when COVID-19 patients who require continued acute care are discharged from the hospital if hospital capacity is exceeded,” according to the news release. Officials want to increase outreach to “disparately affected communities,” including Hispanic and elderly populations.
There have been 61 confirmed coronavirus cases and two deaths linked to the disease in Pitkin County through Sunday, according to the state database.
As of late last week, anyone in Pitkin County with any symptoms of COVID-19 — even mild symptoms — can be tested. County public health officials have set up a monitoring and contact tracing system that aims to “box-in” and track the disease.
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.