Summit County officials extend public health order, discuss flu shots and rising case numbers

Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland works at her desk at the Medical Office Building in Frisco on Sept. 9, 2020. Wineland recommended that the county extend its public health order for another month at a Summit County Board of Health meeting Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

KEYSTONE — With rising cases and an increase in outbreaks, county commissioners decided to extend the public health order for another month at a Summit County Board of Health meeting Tuesday, Sept. 29. 

This time around, the county will be extending the order as is, maintaining the countywide mask mandate and 10-person limit on personal gatherings. 

“If we turn our train around and get back on track with implementing all of our public health order and physical distancing protocols with our employers, hopefully we can … move to a lesser restrictive phase sometime in October, at which point we would update the local order,” Public Health Director Amy Wineland said. 

At the meeting, Wineland updated the board on the county’s plan to have a point of distribution site for administering flu shots this fall

The county will be providing flu shots from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 10 and from 2-6 p.m. Oct. 21. The site will be operating as a drive-thru clinic at the transit bus barn at the industrial park at the County Commons in Frisco. 

County officials have said that getting a flu shot is incredibly important this year as it will help alleviate confusion between symptoms of the flu and those of the novel coronavirus.

While the county is offering flu shots, it isn’t the only place making them available. Local pharmacies and practices offer shots, as well. Wineland said City Market stores in Summit County are already reporting a higher number of shots administered this year than in years past. 

At the meeting, County Manager Scott Vargo also discussed potential new coronavirus relief funds. Vargo said the county heard from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs that $29 million in CARES Act funding will be available to counties or local governments for reimbursement. 

“Unlike the original allocation, which was based on population, this is based more strictly on need or a demonstrated need,” he said. “We will be, again, demonstrating our need.”

Vargo said he is hopeful the county will receive the funding because resort communities have been hit harder with more visitors coming during the pandemic. 

“Resort communities have experienced a lot more activity, a lot more challenges than other parts of the state,” he said. 

Vargo said the county will be able to use any money it receives to help fund its expenses for extra contact tracing personnel, emergency operations employees, personal protective equipment and more. 

Commissioner Thomas Davidson suggested the county find a way to provide the funding to help nonprofits like the Family & Intercultural Resource Center provide rental relief. In the past, the county spent money out of its general fund to support those efforts, which was later reimbursed as part of the CARES Act, Vargo said. 

“We’ve got to make sure that by the end of the year, we don’t leave any of these federal dollars on the table,” Davidson said. “Whether it’s food assistance or whether it’s rental assistance … if we think there’s a way that we could qualify for something additional in the second round from the state, then maybe we should have conversations with the FIRC.”

The board also discussed plans to host a town hall event to help the community understand all of the restrictions and concerns surrounding the pandemic. 

Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said the town hall will serve as a “come to Jesus talk” as case numbers and outbreaks throughout the county have been on the rise. 

“Our activity levels have gone up, so (we’re) trying to share that information and let folks know what’s happening, what we’re seeing (and) how they may be able to help to impact that direction,” Vargo said. 

The town hall is tentatively scheduled for the evening of Monday, Oct. 5, Vargo said.

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