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Seeing Red: Aspen’s Christmas threatened by rising COVID cases

As case numbers increase, avoiding state’s Red level will be “very challenging,” county epidemiologist says
Credit: (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
A line of skiers snakes to the road from the Silver Queen Gondola at the base of Aspen Mountain on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen’s Christmas season may be turning Red for all the wrong reasons.

With COVID-19 cases continuing to skyrocket in Aspen and Pitkin County, the lucrative and critical weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s appeared to be hanging in the balance Friday as the next level of state-mandated local restrictions loom.

“It’s going to be very challenging to keep us out of Red (level restrictions),” Josh Vance, Pitkin County epidemiologist said in an interview Friday. “A big part of it is people have COVID fatigue and they start to take more risks.”

Red level status would mean no dine-in service at restaurants, no informal gatherings like dinner or holiday parties and no indoor events at all. Pitkin County is currently at “Orange-plus” level restrictions, but case numbers continue to climb, and with them the three metrics the state uses to determine which level of restrictions apply here.

RELATED: Pitkin County ready to launch COVID-19 affidavit for Aspen area visitors

Pitkin County reported an all-time daily high of 30 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, shattering the previous daily high of 22 set a few days before on Nov. 28. That’s an average of 14 cases per day, Vance said.

“If you look at our (epidemiological) curve, we have a steady incline,” he said. “And it’s moving up at a pretty rapid rate … (and) it’s not slowing down.”

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