Aspen Skiers May Need Immunity Cards

Aspen Colorado debates mandatory digital contact tracing of skiers
ski lift with skier underneath, snow boarder

When the coronavirus pandemic forced ski season to abruptly end, leading ski resorts such as Aspen Mountain, located in Colorado, began debating how to reopen in November 2020.

Some local politicians are contemplating requiring skiers to use digital-contact-tracing apps before hitting the slopes this fall.

Aspen City Councilman Skippy Mesirow recently suggested the use of mandatory contact tracing mobile phone apps to determine if a skier has COVID-19 disease, reported the Aspen Times on May 4, 2020.

Councilman Ward Hauenstein wrote in an email sent on April 18, 2020, that he sees mandatory tracing as a “slippery road to loss of freedoms, liberties, and privacy, and a police state.”

“I agree that a contact tracking app could be an effective tool in controlling the spread of (COVID-19), but at what cost to our freedoms? Are we willing to enforce isolation and physical distancing (while skiing)?” he continued.

The strategy entails testing people with symptoms, quarantining them until test results indicate they’re positive or negative, and isolating them if they test positive. 

Then investigators must track down at least 90% of the people the symptomatic person was in contact with, quarantine them and isolate each one if they test positive.

Aspen County plans on doing that by using existing government employees, as well as new hires to trace and investigate the movements of individuals who have COVID-19.

So far, 11 people have been trained to do tracing and many more are to follow as the tourism-driven economy begins to reopen with visitors coming to Aspen.

It will require spending about $2 million this year and next to build the infrastructure to be able to test, trace, and isolate every case of COVID-19 that comes to Pitkin County during that time frame.

Based on data from the National Association of County and City Health Officials, local public health leaders figure they will need 30 contact tracers per 100,000 people. 

That translates to a maximum of 12 contact tracers for a local population of residents and tourists that Peacock and county officials believe will top out at about 40,000 people, or approximately 90% of Aspen and Pitkin County’s average population.

Through early May 2020, there have been 51 confirmed coronavirus cases and two deaths in Pitkin County, since the outbreak started, according to the state database.

In his April email exchange, Mesirow writes that he doesn’t think old-school tracing is sufficient.

While Councilwoman Rachel Richards did not respond to Mesirow’s email soliciting her position on mandatory digital contact tracing, she shared her thoughts with the Times when asked.

Regardless, Richards said she’d be reluctant to go down the path of mandatory digital tracing.

“I would be very concerned about any ‘app’ that monitored a woman’s daily health condition that could report ‘likely pregnancy’ to government ‘forced birth’ advocates,” she wrote. 

“The law of unintended consequences catches up with the best-laid plans and what sometimes starts as a dream sometimes ends as a nightmare; the experience of years makes one very cautious.”

Travel news published by Vax-Before-Travel.