55-year-old man second reported death in Pitkin County related to COVID-19

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Post Independent News Update graphic

A 55-year-old man confirmed Friday as Aspen’s second COVID-19-related death lay dead in his home for two days before he was found by police officers during a welfare check, an official said.

Pauli Laukkanen was found Tuesday and “had reported minimal symptoms of night sweats and fever several days before his death” but died Sunday, according to a news release from Pitkin County Coroner Steve Ayers. Confirmation that Laukkanen died of COVID-19 complications came Friday, the release states.

“(Laukkanen) was from Sweden but has lived in Aspen for many years,” according to the release.

A 94-year-old man who died at his Aspen home Tuesday was confirmed Thursday as Pitkin County’s first death related to the coronavirus. The man’s identity was still not available Friday pending notification of next of kin, Ayers said Friday afternoon.

Pitkin County officials are awaiting COVID-19 test results on one more recent death in the county, though they don’t believe it’s related to the virus, he said.

Through Thursday, Colorado public health officials reported 1,734 total cases in 42 of the state’s 64 counties, with 31 deaths and 239 people hospitalized, according to the agency’s website. Pitkin County had 25 positive COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, according to the state’s website.

Much of the county’s population — including Aspen — is under orders from the Pitkin County Public Health Department and Gov. Jared Polis to remain at home in an effort to control spread of the virus. Officials have asked visitors and second homeowners to return to their primary places of residence during the pandemic.

Along those lines, all short-term rental businesses, including hotels and lodges, were ordered to cease operations, to comply with local and state health orders requiring all persons to shelter in place and limit transmission of coronavirus in the community, according to a news release Friday from the city of Aspen.

The city forbade further bookings or occupancy of short-term rentals in Aspen until public health orders have been lifted, the release states.

Short-term rentals are classified as lodge and residential properties that are available for occupancy for a period less than 30 consecutive days.

The announcement includes hotels, motels, lodges, condo-hotels, bed and breakfasts, and any other lodging types as defined by the city. Privately-owned residential property within the city limits being used as a short-term rental, whether through an online booking service, local property manager, or any other means, and with or without a valid city vacation rental permit also was included.

Exemptions are limited to local residents using short-term rentals as a permanent residence, anyone in quarantine or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and self-isolating, or anyone able to demonstrate good cause for maintaining residence in a short-term rental to comply with public health orders.

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