People who live in or recently visited four Colorado mountain counties should “minimize their contact with other people” because the new coronavirus is spreading so rampantly in those areas, state health officials said Sunday.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued the alert about Eagle, Summit, Pitkin or Gunnison counties.
They are home to the state’s most popular ski areas, including Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte, where thousands of people typically travel to for skiing or snowboarding on any given day, many of them later returning to Colorado’s Front Range or areas around the country.
“Anyone who has been in Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, or Gunnison counties in the past week should minimize all contact with other people, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms,” CDPHE said in its bulletin.
There are roughly 50 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in those areas. Eagle County has 24 cases alone, including four new cases announced on Sunday.
One Australian woman who visited Aspen several weeks ago has been linked to at least 10 cases in the resort community.
“We’re seeing extensive outbreaks in these communities,” Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said in a written statement. “We are asking people to take this voluntary action to slow the spread of the disease in Colorado and keep people safe. If we do this now, our hope is that we can slow down the spread of this virus and lessen the potential stress on our health care systems and workers.”
The announcement from CDPHE comes just hours after Gov. Jared Polis ordered all ski areas in the state to close for at least a week in an extraordinary measure.
“Community transmission is likely increasing across the state, so these measures are important to implement everywhere but are particularly urgent for residents and visitors of mountain communities that are already experiencing high rates of community transmission,” CDPHE said in its bulletin.
On Wednesday, Polis warned anyone who is over age 60 or who is vulnerable because of a compromised immune system to abstain from traveling to Colorado’s mountains. Polis has warned that high country hospitals are unprepared for the surge of patients they are expected to see from the virus in the coming days.
RecommendationsResidents of and people who visited the affected counties in the past week are urged to:
Stay home or in a comparable setting as much as possible.Work from home if possible. “If you can’t work from home, maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and your coworkers or customers,” CDPHE says.Only go to public spaces for necessities such as groceries and the pharmacy.Continue healthy, non-group activities like walking, hiking, jogging, cycling and other activities that maintain distance from other people. Not gather in group settings.Avoid mass gatherings.Maintain distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others.“If you need to travel, use a private vehicle instead of taking buses, rideshares, flights, or other transportation that puts you in contact with other people,” CDPHE said.Continue to operate critical business functions, such as delivery of goods and operation of businesses, with social distancing and additional safety measures in place.The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news outlet exploring statewide issues.