Officials monitor coronavirus cases in young people in Basalt area

David Krause
The Aspen Times
A Centers for Disease Control illustration of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Officials in Eagle County are monitoring an outbreak of coronavirus cases that seems to be centered on Basalt-area teenagers and young adults from a social gathering earlier this month.

As a precaution, at least two Roaring Fork Valley businesses voluntarily closed in some capacity over the weekend and Monday but were told all the cases related to their businesses involve young people who are asymptomatic.

Since the cases currently are centered in the Eagle County portion of the Basalt area, officials there are doing the contact tracing. Eagle County does not provide data on specific areas where cases are confirmed but rather puts all the cases together in their updates.

On Monday, Eagle County’s director of communications, Kris Widlak, said there have been 26 new confirmed cases over the past five days, and “these cases are in both valleys” of the Eagle County.

Pitkin County public information officer Tracy Trulove said as of Monday afternoon they cannot trace any ID back to a county resident “at this time,” but that they are aware of the situation and talking with officials from Eagle and Garfield counties.

Trulove said a Pitkin County connection could change as the concentric circles of contact tracing expand in the coming days. Garfield County Public Health officials said they, too, are monitoring the situation in the same manner.

According to the Pitkin County database, there have been 15 new cases in the past week. Garfield County has reported 40 new cases in the past week. Some of those backdate to before June 7, but the latest two-week onset (June 8-21) of new cases in Garfield County was 39.

The day care center Camp Chip-A-Tooth, based at Basalt Elementary School, had three of its counselors confirmed with the virus but all three are asymptomatic, camp director Deb Morrison said Monday. She said the camp, which takes care of children ages 5-12, was closed Monday but plans to open Tuesday. None of the three counselors have been at the camp since Wednesday.

“Nobody was in close contact for not even close to 15 minutes. We’ve been outside and social distancing 95 percent of the time,” Morrison said. “But you can’t control your employees once they leave your place.”

The camp traditionally has 65-70 children each summer, but this year because of rules to combat the pandemic they now have about 35 children.

“We’ve been in touch with everybody we’re supposed to be in touch with and followed directions to a ‘T,’ and they told us we’ve done an amazing job,” Morrison said.

The Roaring Fork School District, which oversees Basalt school facilities, decided to open its buildings this summer only for child day-care purposes, and with limited capacity.

“We are concerned about the safety and well-being of all our facilities users, which is why we initially took a cautious approach to reopening,” said Jeff Gatlin, chief operating officer for the district. “We will continue to rely on the guidance of public health in regards to continued use and appropriate response if cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in any program currently using our facilities.”

Maroon Creek Golf Club General Manager David Chadbourne said Monday they have four employees who were found to be asymptomatic and all are doing fine. He said they found out Saturday and immediately closed the area where they work, which is in the pool food service area. The club’s main kitchen is completely separate from the pool area and there is no crossover, he said.

“We have isolated it to the four young kids who have tested positive were four who were at this social event. The other employees who work next to them have all been tested and tested negative,” he said. “We feel very secure in the fact that probably there is no transmission to the general membership due to the safety protocols we have in place here.”

The area in question will not open until Wednesday at the earliest, he said, and they have been deep cleaning it every day since they found out. The four employees can only return to work when they test negative, Chadbourne said.

His greatest fear is that people may have their head in the sand and pretend the pandemic is not happening. He said sharing information is going to be key throughout the reopening.

“The information we have to put out there to everybody is we have to have full disclosure, we have to share information with each other and we have to keep each other safe,” he said. “Because at the end of the day if we don’t and we get people who are vulnerable ill, that’s a huge responsibility. I think it’s imperative that we all share information.”

Post Independent reporter John Stroud [] contributed to this report.

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