Pitkin County’s health board to detail new cases, enforcement efforts

Staff report
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

Aspen and Pitkin County residents with questions about recent, local positive COVID-19 cases and what the county’s public health order enforcement plan will look like should tune in to Thursday’s Board of Health meeting.

Pitkin County reported five new virus cases Wednesday and has an “increasing” trend of cases, according to the county’s COVID-19 Community Report, which can be found on Pitkin County Public Health’s COVID-19 web page. There have been eleven cases confirmed since June 7 and 75 confirmed cases since the outbreak started in March.

Thursday’s meeting is slated to include an update by Public Health Director Karen Koenemann on that new data and the trend over the past two weeks. County epidemiologist Charlie Spickert also will present data on the new cases, contact tracing efforts and the situation at Aspen Valley Hospital, according to the meeting agenda.

Other public health officials will provide an overview of Pitkin County’s newly created “Consumer and Employee Protection Program,” which will provide education, compliance and enforcement services to businesses and make sure they are properly adhering to public health order guidelines.

Pitkin County has been in the process of hiring enforcement officers in an effort to build-up compliance among local businesses.

Finally, Board of Health Chairwoman Markey Butler — also the mayor of Snowmass Village — will lead a round robin discussion among board members about what they are hearing in the community.

As of Wednesday, the hospital continues to operate under the “comfortable” status in the three areas it uses to determine its operational capacity in the event of a surge of COVID-19 cases. The hospital’s status plays a key role in informing public health decisions.

To meet the comfortable status, AVH operations must have the following daily averages:

• Bed capacity is greater than 50% among the 16 beds in AVH’s progressive care unit and the four in intensive care;

• Fewer than six COVID-19-positive patients are in its emergency department;

• Fewer than 10 patients at the respiratory tent are reporting COVID-19 symptoms;

• Fewer than 16 individuals are taking the free community COVID-19 tests;

• Fewer than six essential health care workers —doctors, nurses, etc. — are out simultaneously with COVID-19 symptoms or sick with the coronavirus.

The virtual meeting can be accessed through Zoom on this link and is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. The link for the meeting’s agenda can be found at the county’s website.

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