As state signs new health order, Summit County officials discuss potential changes
BRECKENRIDGE — Colorado is entering a new phase of COVID-19 response efforts, which means a new public health order from Summit County is on its way.
Summit County officials have used the time in between new orders to engage members of the community and answer questions pertaining to the new guidance. County Environmental Health Specialist Hannah Wynd and Planning Director April Kroner met with the Summit Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, June 2, to answer questions and give additional guidance to business owners.
On Monday, June 1, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a new executive order titled “Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors,” allowing for short-term rentals to reopen and issuing guidance for places of worship.
While Polis’ order transitions the state into a new phase of coronavirus prevention, it does not go into specifics regarding the rules and regulations for every kind of business. The task of going over every minute detail is given to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which released its amended safer-at-home public health order Tuesday.
The amended state order provides new guidance on outdoor activity and office workplaces, allows more businesses to open and permits youth sports and summer camps to open among other measures. Bars, casinos, amusement parks and movie theaters remain closed to the public.
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The order also allows people to spend time with non-household members in groups of 10 or fewer.
With guidance from the state, officials from the Summit County Public Health Department are at work drafting the local order, which should be released by Thursday, June 4, Wynd said. The county has the ability to be more restrictive than the state in its order. However, if county officials want any aspect of the order to be less restrictive, they will have to apply for a variance.
Kroner said Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity to explain what is needed from businesses as they start to reopen.
Specifically, Kroner and Wynd encouraged business owners to adhere to the county’s “five commitments,” which ask the public to continue maintaining a 6-foot distance from others, washing hands often, covering their face when in public, staying at home when they are sick and getting tested immediately if they have symptoms of the virus.
Kroner also said the county asked for businesses to gather information on their employees to help with contact tracing, which is the process of identifying potential cases based on people who test positive for the virus. The county has hired six cases investigators in recent weeks to help with contact tracing and plans to hire six more.
“If we can have businesses get their employees’ information up front, we can get a quicker jump on moving ahead with contact tracing should new cases arise,” Kroner said.
Wynd said the public health order will have guidance on a number of activities, including summer camps, short-term rentals, hotel lodging and playgrounds.
The state health department also is asking for the public to submit recommendations on its website for what they want to see happen with places of worship, outdoor industry and personal recreation.
At a news conference Tuesday, Polis spoke about the state’s transition into the new phase.
“The lowest risk thing that anybody can do is, of course, stay at home,” he said. “It’s also lower risk to engage in outdoor activities.”
Polis emphasized that it is not safe for people to be “clustered together in a small outdoor area.”
“Colorado is blessed with millions of acres of accessible lands,” he said. “It is relatively safe to be away from others in the great outdoors in the beautiful June weather.”
Polis also commented on the recent protests of the killing of George Floyd. The governor expressed solidarity with protesters, while also sharing a concern about how the protests will offset the state’s COVID-19 response efforts.
“To those that are peacefully protesting, I want you to know that I see you, I hear you, and I grieve with you,” he said.
Polis said every person who attended the Denver protest should be tested for the virus. The Pepsi Center in Denver is expanding its services to test people who attended the protest and are not experiencing symptoms.
“That’s the way that we can act to capture earlier some of the folks who might be contagious without knowing it, or mildly symptomatic, to prevent this from being a major setback for our state in regards to coronavirus,” he said.
In Summit County, testing is available only to those with symptoms.
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