Top 10 Summit Daily stories of 2020 |

Top 10 Summit Daily stories of 2020

A sign is posted on Arapahoe Basin Ski Area's Black Mountain Express lift is pictured May 1. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared that ski resorts are to remain closed.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily archives

1. Colorado governor orders closure of all ski resorts due to COVID-19 outbreak, March 14

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order to close the state’s nearly 30 ski areas for one week amid the new coronavirus outbreak.

“Never would I have believed that a global pandemic would force the temporary closure of our world-class ski resorts,” Polis wrote in an email announcing the news.

“Beyond being a major part of our way of life, skiing supports our workers and businesses,” Polis wrote, noting his concern for hourly employees who depend on their paychecks.

Polis called the decision “agonizing” and said he would “take solace in knowing that … we will be saving the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Coloradans in the days and weeks ahead.”

Earlier in the day, Vail Resorts was the first major ski area operator in the country to announce that it would close its resorts amid the outbreak.

Arapahoe Basin and Loveland ski areas soon followed Vail’s lead, and Copper Mountain Resort announced its closure later in the day. All three ski areas initially committed to stay open.

— Summit Daily and Vail Daily staff

2. Summit County visitor is 1st to test positive for coronavirus in Colorado after skiing at Keystone and Vail, March 5

A patient being screened for the new coronavirus at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco tested positive, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The hospital announced it was investigating a potential case of the novel coronavirus after a patient with a recent history of travel to Italy came to the Summit County medical center’s emergency department with a possible respiratory illness earlier that day.

It represents the first known case of COVID-19 in the state.

The patient is a California man in his 30s who was visiting Summit County. During a press conference, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the man arrived Feb. 29 at Denver International Airport.

The man then traveled to Summit County in a rental car and skied at Keystone Resort and Vail Mountain. Health officials said the man stayed at a condo in Keystone.

The man developed symptoms March 3 and went in for testing the next day. He was later transported by his fiancee to a hospital in Jefferson County, where he is recovering in isolation until cleared by public health officials.

— Sawyer D’Argonne

Tanner Wilson, 11, of Breckenridge shows off his catch April 21 in Summit County.
Photo from Matthew Wilson

3. Breckenridge 11-year-old catches 30-pound lake trout, April 26

Breckenridge local Tanner Wilson, 11, caught an estimated 30-pound lake trout while fishing with his father April 21 at a Summit County reservoir.

It was a “once-in-a-lifetime catch,” his father, Matthew Wilson, said. “Any fisherman would love to catch a fish that size.”

While Tanner reeled in the fish by himself, his father helped him net the gigantic trout.

“You can see the reaction of his face,” Matthew said. “He was completely overwhelmed.”

After posing with his catch, Tanner returned the trout to the water as quickly as he could.

For the father and son duo, fishing is a chance to spend quality time together outdoors.

“We fish all the time together,” Matthew said. “We do a lot of fly-fishing. It is just a good thing to do as father and son together to get outside.”

— Sarah Watson

4. Vail Resorts announces opening dates for 2020-21 season, plans reservation system, Aug. 27

After months of anticipation about the upcoming ski season, Vail Resorts announced Aug. 27 its operating plan, including a reservation system.

Reservations will be required to access Vail-owned mountains, and the company said in a news release that it intends to limit lift tickets and prioritize passholders.

According to the website for the Epic Pass, Vail Resorts’ pass system, the company anticipates being able to accommodate everyone who wants to ski or ride for the “vast majority of days.”

Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz noted in a letter published Aug. 27, that the reservation system was designed to make people feel safe.

At a Breckenridge Town Council work session Aug. 25, Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula shared details from a meeting he took part in with Vail Resorts leaders, including Katz. Mamula noted that the company seemed to be concerned the state would place capacity limits on all resorts without taking their differences into consideration.

— Taylor Sienkiewicz

A sign outside the Motherloaded Tavern in Breckenridge says the restaurant is closed. On March 16, Summit County issued a public heath order to close all dine-in restaurants as well as many other types of businesses.
Photo by Elaine Collins

5. Summit County orders widespread business closures amid COVID-19 outbreak, March 16

Summit County officials issued a public health order March 16, announcing sweeping business closures throughout the area to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The order will include all municipalities. Only banks, grocery stores, liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, pharmacies and gas stations will remain open.

According to a statement from the county, dine-in activity in all restaurants, bars and cafeterias in Summit County will be prohibited. Restaurants will be allowed to continue providing delivery and takeout options.

In addition, the Summit Stage and Breckenridge Free Ride bus services will be suspended along with shuttle and ride-share services.

All retail businesses that see foot traffic from the general public also will be required to close. All lodging businesses — including hotels, motels, timeshares and short-term rentals — are required to close, as well.

— Sawyer D’Argonne

6. ‘Only go out for necessities’: Colorado public health officials urge Summit County residents to minimize all social contact, March 15

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a statement asking residents and visitors of four mountain communities, including Summit County, to “minimize their contact with other people” in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Anyone who has been in Eagle, Summit, Pitkin or Gunnison counties in the past week should minimize all contact with other people, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms,” the statement said.

Summit residents and visitors are asked to do the following, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms:

  • Work from home, if possible
  • Only go out for necessities, such as groceries and medication
  • Maintain distance of 6 feet from others
  • Travel only in a private vehicle

Health officials also urged people to continue to get outside — alone or with members of their household — for some fresh air and exercise while maintaining distance from other people.

— Nicole Miller

7. Summit County to move to level red on COVID-19 dial, Nov. 17

Summit County could be moving into the state’s new level red phase of response to the novel coronavirus as soon as Nov. 20.

The state is adding two new levels to its COVID-19 dial: a restructured level red, which is now labeled “severe risk,” and the new level purple, which is labeled “stay at home,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said at a news conference Nov. 17.

While no counties are at the point of moving into level purple, which would be a shutdown similar to what was seen in March, 15 counties will be moving into the new level red, according to a news release from the Colorado State Joint Information Center. The release said Summit County will be among those counties moving into the new phase.

However, at a Summit County Board of Health meeting, County Manager Scott Vargo said the county will be asking if it could push the move to Nov. 22 in order to give more time for businesses to prepare.

As of Nov. 17, Summit County was reporting 1,117 new cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period.

— Libby Stanford

8. Ski area capacities to be reduced ahead of Thanksgiving, Nov. 24

Ski area capacity will be further reduced as a result of Summit County’s move to level red on the state’s COVID-19 dial.

The county’s latest public health order requires Summit County ski areas to work with the local public health agency to further reduce their daily capacities, which already were reduced in each ski area’s existing COVID-19 operating plan.

That limit could come in the form of a percentage of overall guests or a numerical reduction, such as a specific number of guests that are allowed each day.

The county has not shared specific capacity limits at ski areas. Ski areas consider skier visits to be proprietary, and the county has cited public records law language that protects trade secrets.

County Manager Scott Vargo said the driving factor behind reducing the resorts’ capacities is the current level red designation, which prohibits indoor dining and limits gathering sizes.

— Taylor Sienkiewicz

9. Silverthorne pays $9,500 settlement to ‘First Amendment auditor’ following incident at post office, Aug. 29

The town of Silverthorne agreed to pay a settlement of $9,500 after police asked a man filming inside the Silverthorne Post Office to leave.

On Feb. 24, a YouTube channel called Amagansett Press posted a 51-minute edited video of a man and his son entering the post office on a “First Amendment audit,” to see if “these folks honor and respect our right to take video and photographs in public and from publicly accessible places.”

In the video, a man named Jason Gutterman walked inside and began filming. A post office employee and several customers asked the man to stop filming and leave. When he refused, officers with the Silverthorne Police Department were called, leading to a lengthy and somewhat contentious conversation.

In the video, Gutterman and the police went back and forth about whether he was allowed to film, and if police had the right to make him leave. At the end of the video Gutterman states his intention to take legal action against the police department.

The town said in a statement that the agreement wasn’t an admission of liability or wrongdoing.

— Sawyer D’Argonne

10. Worries about winter backcountry crowds follow announcement of Vail Resorts reservation system, Aug. 31

After Vail Resorts announced its plan for a reservation system this winter at its North American ski areas, members of Colorado’s backcountry winter sports community raised concerns about how the new program will affect crowds on public lands.

Some believe there will be a cascading effect from reservation systems like this and worry increased traffic and unsafe travel in the backcountry could lead to public land closures. Beyond that, there is the likelihood of less-experienced backcountry recreationists opting for public land earlier in the winter season when the snowpack is more variable, unsettled and dangerous.

Sam Massman, deputy district ranger for the Dillon Ranger District, said he’s unsure what public land demand will look like this winter, though he knows how much the U.S. Forest Service is already doing to manage popular spots, including Vail and Loveland passes, which are already filled to the brim.

— Antonio Olivero

Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on this year. Stories that were republished from other sites, stories that were not written in 2020 and lists have been excluded.

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