Summit County health board discusses mask mandate, testing sites and new booster clinics
As COVID-19 case rates continue to climb, local leaders are hustling to provide adequate resources
Summit County’s mask mandate is back in place, local leaders are again meeting virtually, and COVID-19 case rates continue to climb due to the highly transmissible omicron variant, which was officially confirmed to be present in the community in early December.
According to the county’s website, Summit’s seven-day cumulative incidence rate is 3,050 cases per 100,000 people.
Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland had new measures to share during Tuesday’s Summit County Board of Health meeting. Wineland reviewed changes to some of the community’s testing sites, spoke about a new booster clinic to begin operating Thursday, Dec. 6, and talked about enforcing the mask mandate.
Changes to testing sites
Wineland noted that over the past week, there have been some hiccups with a couple of the community’s testing sites, as demand for testing continues to remain high.
“We had our testing program in Breck close unexpectedly one day due to staff shortages … and then this week, the Breck site has been closed due to staff illness,” Wineland said. “(Staff) are not immune to omicron either, and they also are experiencing what all businesses are experiencing right now, which includes staff shortages and illness, which makes them unable, unfortunately, to provide that testing.”
Summit County Emergency Management Director Brian Bovaird reported that when the Breckenridge testing site reopens, the goal is to move it to the Colorado Mountain College parking lot. It is currently at the Breckenridge Recreation Center, and Bovaird said the move is an attempt to accommodate the high demand.
There’s also going to be a new testing site opening at the Dillon Marina parking lot Wednesday, Jan. 5. For now, this site will only offer testing on Wednesdays but is expected to have additional capacity in the future.
As for the Frisco location, Bovaird reported that to alleviate some of the traffic congestion at the Summit County Community and Senior Center, the Colorado State Patrol is planning to send a few law enforcement officials.
“We’ve been having periodic issues where the line queues up long enough that it causes some traffic disruption,” Bovaird said. “The theme with everyone is staffing and people out sick, so our local law enforcement was not able to keep up with that traffic control component.”
New booster clinics
During the meeting, Wineland noted that the percentage of Summit County’s population that has received a booster is much lower than the state’s rate. Wineland reported that the state’s rate is at about 51%, and the community’s rate is at about 28%, according to Summit County’s website.
“Summit County, right now, is not doing as well as we could to get boosters into arms, which is unusual because we’ve been leading the state in every other vaccine metric other than the booster doses,” Wineland said.
Wineland said that beginning Thursday, the county has secured a permanent booster dose site at the Medical Office Building near St. Anthony Summit Hospital in Frisco. The resource is provided through the state, and booster doses will be administered five days per week Mondays through Fridays by appointment.
Wineland noted that those 16 and older are eligible to receive a booster dose, depending on when they last received their initial dose of the vaccine.
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer booster to be administered to 12- to 15-year-olds, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to sign off Wednesday, Jan. 5. If that happens, Wineland said parents can begin scheduling appointments immediately.
Enforcing the mask mandate
While county leaders on the call seemed to be satisfied with these changes, Bovaird noted that some other community members are expressing frustrations, especially as it relates to the mask mandate. Bovaird said many individuals are using the public information hot line to report those who are not adhering to the policy implemented last week.
Bovaird said his team is setting up a system to deal with these complaints systematically, where a staff member will try to troubleshoot the issues and work with the county’s environmental health department to follow up and coordinate “any necessary action as the result of those complaints.”
According to an email from Summit County spokesperson Adam Kisiel, fines for not wearing a mask could reach $5,000.
All three Summit County commissioners agreed that the mask mandate was not meant to be “a silver bullet” but rather a measure to protect the staff in local businesses and to keep kids in schools.
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