Summit County officials outline strategy as health order moves into next phase |

Summit County officials outline strategy as health order moves into next phase

Physician's assistant Stephanie Kuenn is pictured in personal protective gear before seeing potential COVID-19 patients at the Summit Community Care Clinic in Frisco on March 30.
Liz Copan /

FRISCO — Recovering from a pandemic is a dance. With each new phase of recovery, there is potential to move backward.

To maintain the balance required to open up, Summit County officials are moving forward cautiously, Public Health Director Amy Wineland said at Monday’s recovery team town hall meeting. Wineland presented three phases moving forward: slow the spread, stabilization and long-term recovery.

The slow-the-spread phase was the county’s initial response to the virus. The county’s goals were to give the health system time to increase its patient capacity as well as increase testing capacity, Wineland said. 

With its amended order, the county is slowly moving into a stabilization phase. The criteria for the phase is a reduction in cases for at least 14 days, ensuring hospitals are able to treat everyone needing to be hospitalized and all people with COVID-19 symptoms can be tested. 

In the past week, the county has been able to dramatically increase testing and has seen a decrease in hospitalizations. However, it has not reported a 14-day decrease in symptoms. Wineland said the county is using other data to evaluate the county’s progress, like a reduction in cases among health care workers and outbreaks within residential facilities.

“We look at all those types of measurements to make this decision to move forward and lift some of our restrictions,” she said. 

Wineland said the county will monitor the public health impact of lifted restrictions for two weeks with each move into a new phase. If the county finds that issues arise, officials can “tighten the faucet up more,” Wineland said. 

The long-term recovery phase, which involves lifting all restrictions, is far away. Wineland said it might not happen for 18-24 months, depending on when researchers develop a vaccine or treatment and cure for the virus.

Wineland also presented on how the county’s amended order compares with Gov. Jared Polis’ safer-at-home order, which was released Sunday. The major differences between the two orders involve the timeline of restrictions being lifted. 

Like the governor’s order, Summit County’s order allows retail curbside pickup, auto sales by appointment, real estate showings by appointment and transit services to continue starting Monday. On May 1, personal services can reopen, and on May 4, workplaces can have up to 50% of workers present. 

The state order doesn’t have any recommendations on child care facilities or short-term lodging. However, Summit County’s order allows child care facilities to open with strict precautions starting May 11 and prohibits short-term rentals from operating until May 31. 

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