Summit County plans to extend public health order, strategizes ahead of flu season
KEYSTONE — Summit County officials discussed their plan to extend the current public health order and their strategy for combating the upcoming flu season at the board of health meeting Thursday, July 30.
At the meeting, the board of health decided to extend the local safer-at-home health order through Aug. 31. Unlike the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s order, the county’s order is more restrictive on mask-wearing and has a mandatory restaurant closure in place at 11 p.m.
While the state order requires people who are 10 and older to wear a mask inside buildings open to the public, Summit County’s order requires masks for everyone age 3 and up in buildings and outside when a 6-foot distance from others isn’t possible.
Public Health Director Amy Wineland will sign the extended order Friday, and it will go into effect Saturday.
At the meeting, the board also discussed the county’s plans to create a “point of distribution” site, which will be a temporary drive-up facility dedicated to providing flu vaccines. The county also hopes to use the site to administer a vaccine for the novel coronavirus once one is created.
The county is still in the preliminary plans for creating the site, but it’s expected to be operating sometime in November, County Manager Scott Vargo said. Flu vaccines will be administered as early as September, just not at the site, Vargo said.
Right now, the plan is for the site to be in the parking lot outside of the medical office building near St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.
Wineland said the site will be imperative in making sure people have access to flu vaccinations. The vaccination station is also a requirement to move into the protect-our-neighbor phase of reopening, Wineland said.
“We know that when flu season is going to overlap with COVID, that’s going to create capacity issues for our health care system,” she said. “The symptoms are very similar.”
The county is partnering with a number of community organizations like the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, ski areas, Centura Health, Ebert Family Clinic, Swan Mountain Women’s Center, the Summit Community Care Clinic and more to bring the site together, Wineland said.
“The hope is that other entities could be using this drive-thru spot, not just public health, for distributing the vaccine,” she said. “So it’s a much wider group of people who can distribute the vaccine safely to their patient populations.”
Wineland said the county plans to work with its partners to provide the testing for people who are underinsured or uninsured.
“Anyone that’s uninsured or underinsured, vaccines will be provided at a very low cost, usually $10 to $20, we haven’t figured out the price yet,” Wineland said. “Certainly, if folks aren’t able to pay, we would not be turning people away.”
Public health also will have a number of vaccines provided through the federal government, which they will administer to people at no cost, Wineland said.
The site will have three shelters, Vargo said. The first shelter will be a check-in station for people who have appointments. The other two will be for vaccinations to allow for easier drive-thru access.
The goal for the site is to last through winter. To do that, the county is working on finding durable structures that will be heated and can withstand snow. Brian Bovaird, director of emergency management for the county, said his team is looking at a number of companies that specialize in durable temporary structures.
“We want to keep (the structures) up for possibly six months or longer,” he said. “There’s some companies out there that make shelters that are more durable and rugged and resemble a permanent structure.”
Vargo said the county is pursuing state grants totaling around $150,000 for the infrastructure work. The grants would require the county to match that amount.
“We do expect that with generators and heating sources and shelters that won’t blow away when the big bad wolf comes, that we will end up probably exhausting that $150,000 and our match and, perhaps, some additional (CARES Act) funding that we receive,” he said. “So this is not an inexpensive proposition, but we’re hoping that it’s available for the flu, available for a COVID vaccine, might also be able to use it for a testing site and then in the future other activities and opportunities, as well.”
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Centura Health, the company that owns St. Anthony Summit Medical Center and High Country Health Care clinics, launched a campaign Monday, Nov. 23, to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.