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Tourists Increase Coronavirus Infections Among Colorado’s Latino Population

Tourists in Colorado ski resort.

Photo: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

The reopening of tourism in the popular western Colorado region produced a significant increase in the number of Latinos infected with coronavirus, local health authorities reported Monday.

The situation mainly affects the counties of Pitkin (where the famous Aspen ski resort is), Garfield (with Glenwood Springs and its hot springs) and Eagle (seat of the homonymous city and numerous high-end hotels).

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In mid-July, the Colorado government authorized the partial reopening of the sector such as hotels, restaurants and some tourist activities, and since then the aforementioned counties have tracked the cases of people infected with COVID-19 who don’t live in those counties.

The new strategy determined that, in the specific case of Pitkin County, the arrival of tourists and workers for this sector caused a strong increase in cases of coronavirus.

While from July 11 to August 5, 63 infections were reported, in the rest of August 192 cases were detected, and a significant percentage of them are Latino.

According to the Pitkin County Health Department, at least 37 infections “must be attributed to non-residents,” being Texas, Florida, California and Michigan the states of origin of most of the newly infected.

The Latino community has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with Latinos who do not live in Pitkin County, but who work there, the 73% of new coronavirus patients in that county.

Furthermore, these “non-residents” are young, with an average age of 26, compared to an average age of 3.8 Years of People with COVID-19 in Pitkin County and Surrounding Areas.

And another factor to take into account is that the majority (70%) of those who came as tourists to western Colorado and became infected are white.

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“We know that because we are a tourist center we are going to see people who come here having been exposed to the virus elsewhere and here they stay and this is where the test comes back positive, ”Pitkin County epidemiologist Josh Vance said in a prepared statement, adding that the county“ already expected a significant number of individuals ”with the virus.

Faced with the new reality, the Pitkin County Health Department asked the state government for new measures such as requiring visitors and new hires signing a statement that they have no COVID-19 symptoms or that they show a certificate that the exam gave them negative.

In addition, those arriving at the local airport will be screened and those from areas with high case rates will be quarantined.

“The 14-day self-quarantine is the most effective strategy, research shows,” said Dr. Karen Koenemann, Pitkin County public health director.