Top 5 most-read stories on, week of March 28 |

Top 5 most-read stories on, week of March 28

Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sit ready to be used during a drive-thru clinic at the Summit Stage bus depot in Frisco on March 19. The Catholic church has advised parishioners to try to get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Editor’s note: Stories on this list received the most page views on in the past week.

1. Some Catholics express concerns about Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Matt Schroeder was excited when he first learned he was eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, but he canceled his appointment with Summit County Public Health after discovering the dose would be coming from Johnson & Johnson.

The devout, anti-abortion Catholic was uncomfortable with the vaccine’s connection to using fetal cell lines.

“I called up our local pastor, and he encouraged me to follow my conscious and do what I thought was right.” Schroeder said.

According to the Vatican, Catholics have a moral duty to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus for the common good; however, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are preferred. If an alternative isn’t available, the Vatican states, “It is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

But county health officials say people cannot pick which vaccine they get.

“If the vaccine we are offering is not one that an individual wants, they can always decline the vaccination invite to go back in the lottery for a future vaccine appointment where we may have a different vaccine brand available,” Summit County spokesperson Nicole Valentine wrote in an email.

— Jefferson Geiger

2. Summit County officials plan to resist state-mandated move back to level orange

Summit County officials plan to resist a potential move to level orange on the state’s COVID-19 dial, hoping to convince the state that Summit’s case numbers will see a decline once spring break visitors have left the area.

Public Health Director Amy Wineland provided local officials with an update on the COVID-19 situation during a joint meeting with the Summit Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon, reporting that Summit’s case numbers have reached a point where a move backward on the dial is likely.

Wineland said Summit County would be moved from level yellow to orange on the state’s dial if the county’s seven-day cumulative incidence rate remained above 345 new cases per 100,000 residents for five consecutive days. According to data from the state’s website, Tuesday represented the fifth consecutive day above the 345 mark; however, county officials never heard from the state.

— Sawyer D’Argonne

3. CDOT proposing new way to beat Interstate 70 mountain traffic

Colorado skiers and hikers could be taking advantage of hourly shuttles from Denver to Summit and Eagle counties by the end of the year if a proposal by the Colorado Department of Transportation is approved this month by the Colorado Transportation Committee.

The CDOT program would augment its existing Bustang service, which offers limited weekday bus service between Denver and Grand Junction, and its weekend Snowstang bus service in the winter to the Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Steamboat Springs. The new service would employ 14-passenger “micro-transit” vans departing hourly on peak travel days — Friday through Sunday and on holidays — during the ski season and the summer tourism season.

The CDOT proposal was presented to the transportation committee last month and could be approved at its meeting April 16.

— The Denver Post

4. Vehicle thefts continue in Summit County

Stolen vehicles continue to be a problem in Summit County, according to local law enforcement leaders.

After an increase in stolen vehicles in the area earlier this year, Summit County’s law enforcement agencies urged residents to take more care to make sure their cars are properly secured. According to Silverthorne Police Chief John Minor, the problem has persisted, and it isn’t just a local one.

“It’s still an issue,” Minor said. “… From what we hear, this is an issue statewide. Motor vehicle thefts are going through the roof; crime rates are going through the roof.”

There was a notable upward trend in the amount of car thefts in the state last year. There were a total of 27,738 stolen vehicles in Colorado in 2020, according to data from the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority, which is part of the Department of Public Safety. Between 2017 and 2019, there were an average of 20,757 stolen vehicles each year. There have been at least 5,416 in the first two months of this year.

Likewise, thefts of items from on or inside a vehicle also saw an increase in 2020, with a total of 33,827 reported cases in the state compared to an annual average of 28,732 from 2017 through 2019.

— Sawyer D’Argonne

5. Avalanche report: Eagle man died after being swept over 75-foot cliff

Eagle County resident Gary Smith, who died March 22 after being caught in a small avalanche in the backcountry near Beaver Creek Resort, was swept over a 75-foot cliff, according to a final report on the accident by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

At the time of the accident, Smith and a partner were skiing in an area known as Sanctuary Chute, a steep northwest-facing slope below treeline. Skiers often access the backcountry zone by leaving Beaver Creek from the top of the Larkspur Express chairlift. The avalanche center report noted that the ski area boundary is “permanently closed” in that location.

After arriving at the top of the chute and assessing the snowpack, Smith descended the skier’s left side of Sanctuary Chute and took four to five turns before dropping out of view of his partner, according to the report. The partner then saw a “powder cloud” and believed there had been an avalanche.

The partner began to descend to the right of Smith’s tracks, triggering and escaping another small slide. The partner then made their way down to the bottom of the cliff band and began searching for Smith, who was fully buried, according to the report.

Using an avalanche transceiver, the partner found Smith under about 2 feet of snow, determined he had died and then called 911.

— Nicole Miller

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