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Stay healthy and mindful while outdoors

Dealing with the coronavirus remains a very volatile situation in Pitkin County. It’s like a wildfire burning out of control, but in an urban setting. This extremely unprecedented event, including sudden unexpected closures, has impacted the health, safety and welfare of our citizens and communities.

One concern over the spread of this highly contagious virus is that it places our health providers and emergency personnel at extraordinary risk. With our limited hospital beds and personnel as well as a shortage of necessary protective equipment, we need to keep the demand for medical services below its capacity. Given that, our strategy has changed from one of mitigation — social distancing and limited group size — to one of suppression. The intent of this difficult decision, closing all non-essential businesses — endorsed by our medical community as well as the state — is to “flatten the curve”, conserving our resources for the anticipated surge.

With 21 confirmed cases as of Friday in Pitkin County, our neighbor Eagle County now has over 200 cases plus over 800 individuals with self-reporting symptoms. We live and thrive in the outdoors; it’s the “Aspen Idea” — Mind, Body, Spirit. However, recreating outdoors does not grant immunity to the virus, nor does it negate the need to adhere to social distancing requirements. Our new “stay at home” order further emphasizes the need for social distancing at least 6 feet apart and no gatherings.

We are seeing ski area closures for uphillers around the state and possible public land closures as well. Favorite places we enjoy today — from Tiehack to Smuggler — may not be available in the near future: let’s not lose our recreation outlets! Observe social distancing; limit your partners ideally to one; don’t congregate at trailheads or parking lots.

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The decisions we make in these regards will impact our own health as well as the health of others. We need to take this pandemic seriously as we are truly in the eye of the storm.

George Newman

Pitkin County commissioner


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