Public health officials investigating COVID-19 outbreak among Ice Castles employees

A visitor inspects the walls during the opening night of the Dillon Ice Castles on Saturday, Dec. 19.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Summit County Public Health officials are currently investigating a COVID-19 outbreak among employees at the Dillon Ice Castles.

Three staff members who worked on the construction of the Dillon Ice Castles have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to Steve Prosise, branch chief of surveillance for the Summit County Public Health Department. Prosise noted that the individuals are currently quarantining in isolation, and that there isn’t believed to be any additional risk to individuals who have visited the attraction.

“It is an ongoing investigation, so we are still contract tracing as we are identifying other close contacts on the staff,” Prosise said. “… I believe this transmission was among staff at employee housing. I don’t believe there is a concern at this time with the public.”

Ice Castles Marketing and Public Relations Manager Melissa Smuzynski said that the three individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 were not public-facing employees and have not been at work since Friday, Dec. 18, the day before the castles opened to the public.

Ice Castles was made aware of the first positive test late Friday night, according to Smuzynski. She noted that two of the employees who tested positive live together, and that the outbreak is believed to be a result of household spread as opposed to workplace spread.

Other employees who are considered close contacts to the three who tested positive also have been quarantined, but Smuzynski said none of the impacted employees are on the event staff that works the ticket booth, circulates around the ice castles or deals with customers.

“After Ice Castles was made aware of the initial positive test results, we immediately took the necessary precautions,” Smuzynski said. “The employees and any direct contacts were immediately asked to quarantine, monitor their symptoms and if needed, to get tested themselves.”

Smuzynski also emphasized that no guests were exposed to infected employees.

Prosise noted that officers with the Dillon Police Department visited the attraction Tuesday and identified some deficiencies in the company’s operations, including concerns regarding symptom checking and tracking among employees during the clock-in process. Ice Castles also lacked proper documentation for physical distancing protocols, but investigators said even with longer lines, visitors were appropriately distancing themselves from one another.

“We’re just making sure it’s all in writing,” Prosise said.

The county received word from Ice Castles officials Tuesday that they were working to address the issues, and a public health official popped in on the attraction Wednesday to ensure that the deficiencies had been remedied. Officials said Ice Castles was in complete compliance during the visit.

“The things they found were minor details that were easy for us to work out,” Smuzynski said. “… I know we’re working with the public health department to make sure we’re following their guidelines to a T.”

Smuzynski also expressed confidence that Ice Castles would continue to operate safely throughout the season.

“We have numerous COVID-19 safety precautions in place, including mandatory masks for our staff and guests, enhanced sanitation of high touch surfaces, reduced capacity to promote social distancing, timed ticketing and one-way traffic flow through crawl spaces and tunnels. Ice Castles is committed to providing a safe experience during these unprecedented times,” Smuzynski said.


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