Rising number of travelers coming into Colorado during pandemic

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — New data shows the number of visitors coming into Colorado is on the rise and it’s presenting a challenge for public health officials since some of the people coming in are from COVID-19 hot spot states.

A recent map based off of cell phone data shows a large number of travelers coming in from cities in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.

“Some of them may be coming in with infections,” explained Dr. Jonathan Samet, Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health.

An area seeing an influx of out of state travelers this Summer is Pitkin County. Pitkin County is home to Aspen, a destination resort town.

Pitkin County has roughly 18,000 residents, but right now its population has ballooned up to 39,000-42,000 people.

“Tourism is really a main driver of our economy in the Winter and Summer,” explained Karen Koenemann, Public Health Director for Pitkin County.

Koenemann took part in a COVID-19 panel discussion hosted by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Monday.

She and other public health officials discussed the concern over potentially infected people coming into the state from hot spot areas.

Analysis of theoretical risk exposure from commuters, tourists and visitors coming into Pitkin County shows a shift from June to July.

On June 25, risk exposure would’ve come from:
23% Pitkin County residents
20% Garfield County residents
10% Texas residents

On July 23, risk exposure would’ve come from:
14% Pitkin County Residents
14% Rest of the United States
21% Texas residents

“So it just shows the impact of visitors and sort of how we can look at that and adjust our strategies and messages to visitors,” said Koenemann.

As of Monday morning, Pitkin County had 153 positive COVID cases, with a positivity rate ranging between 7%-9% in the last week. Pitkin County has had two COVID-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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