Health officials are ordering residents in and around the exclusive resort community of Aspen to stay at home as much as possible and telling visitors to leave.
Under the order issued Monday night, Pitkin County residents can leave home only for essential tasks such as grocery shopping, getting medical treatment and outdoor exercise. Liquor stores and marijuana shops will remain open, but non-essential retail stores and construction sites must close. Officials said they are trying to slow the spread of the virus in a region that has been hit hard and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.
Colorado health officials warned last week that the coronvirus has spread extensively in mountain resort communities and urged anyone who lives in or recently visited Eagle, Summit, Pitkin or Gunnison counties to limit contact with other people to reduce the spread of the virus.
The Pitkin County order directs visitors to return home immediately by “the fastest and safest available means.”
Aspen area has seen at least 18 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Vacation home owners are exempted but were strongly encouraged to leave. County manager Jon Peacock told The Aspen Times that those leaving have been asked to self-quarantine after they arrive home.
The county hopes to soon begin community-wide testing using a new virus test developed by a Colorado-based company, Aytu Bioscience Inc.
The test requires a finger-prick blood sample, which can be analyzed at testing sites and does not require health care workers to wear as much protective equipment or use swabs as are required with other tests, Peacock said. The company said Monday it expects to deliver its first shipment of 100,000 tests in the United States this week.
Denver issued a stay-at-home order that went into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday and lasts through at least April 10. Boulder, San Miguel County and other communities across Colorado have also issued similar directives.
It’s likely more city- and county-specific orders will be enacted in the coming days.
Gov. Jared Polis issued guidance that people go out only when absolutely necessary, but declined to issue a statewide mandate that people stay home.
The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.