Summit County officials plan for Halloween after a Labor Day-driven spike in cases
KEYSTONE — After seeing the full impact of Labor Day weekend on Summit County’s novel coronavirus numbers, officials are bracing themselves for the next major holiday: Halloween.
At a Summit County Board of Health meeting Tuesday, Sept. 22, county commissioners discussed potential guidance for Halloween. The day before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidance on holiday activities, including Halloween.
In the guidance, the CDC listed traditional trick-or-treating, Halloween parties, haunted houses, fall festivals and hayrides as “high-risk activities.” While the county plans to take the guidance into consideration, it won’t be making any official decisions on what is and is not allowed until the state releases its own guidance.
County Manager Scott Vargo said he believes the town managers will be wanting to follow the new guidance.
“The town managers have talked a little bit amongst themselves about this topic and I think very much will want to support what CDC is saying and not giving more opportunities for people to transmit the virus,” he said.
The biggest concern for commissioners is how Halloween activities might lead to a spike in cases as the county saw with the Labor Day holiday. As of Tuesday, the county’s coronavirus webpage reported that 22 cases of the virus were confirmed Sept. 15, the highest number of cases the county has seen in one day.
“We saw what happened over Labor Day, right? People want to celebrate these holidays,” Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said. “If we leave them to their own devices, we’ll have an outbreak.”
Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier agreed but noted that a lack of planned activities could lead to Halloween parties that would be more detrimental to the county’s case numbers.
Public Health Director Amy Wineland said the county will be making a Halloween decision based on what the disease spread looks like in the community.
“Right now, we’re going in the wrong direction,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re keeping that in consideration as we move forward with what we recommend.”
The spike in cases isn’t unique to Summit County. Across Colorado, cases of the virus are going up, especially among the 18-25 age group, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said at a news conference Tuesday. Polis urged everyone to get tested if they have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.
“It’s really important for us to be able to contain the virus and for you to know whether in fact you might be a deadly threat to your own housemates, friends, neighbors or family,” he said.
At the meeting, the board also decided to temporarily pause the use of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System to send an emergency alert to people within Summit County informing them of the county’s mask ordinance and fire restrictions.
Vargo said the county has been receiving a number of complaints surrounding the alerts for weeks now.
“The level of complaints and perhaps the agitation associated with those complaints is rising,” he said.
Emergency Management Director Brian Bovaird said many people feel the alerts don’t warrant an emergency.
“We’re kind of entering a gray area with a continued dissemination of an emergency message that is pre-scripted, and it’s the same message at the same time, weekly,” he said. “You can argue that, at this point, it’s not worthy of … emergency alert at the frequency we’re doing them.”
Vargo said the county plans to continue releasing information about the virus and fire restrictions through the Summit County alert system and ads in the Summit Daily News.
Wineland also updated the board on the Summit School District’s plans for communicating when cohorts of students are placed in quarantine.
The district is not currently releasing information about cohorts in quarantine to the public. However, they are continuing to discuss the issue with public health and internally, Wineland said.
“What we’re going to be doing in public health is continue to do press releases of any outbreaks that are in our community,” she said. “We do know that sharing that information is vital to continue to protect the public’s health.”
Centura Health provides testing at its daily clinic on School Road in Frisco. The clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays and Sundays.
Testing is also available through the county’s mobile testing clinic, which is open to walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations:
- Tuesdays at the Breckenridge Recreation Center
- Wednesdays at the Family & Intercultural Resource Center
- Fridays at the Clubhouse at Dillon Valley West
To schedule an appointment for either clinic, call 970-668-5584.
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