Summit County sees spike of 35 cases of coronavirus reported in 8 days |

Summit County sees spike of 35 cases of coronavirus reported in 8 days

Taylor Griffith, a paramedic for Stadium Medical, tests a patient for coronavirus at a mobile testing site in Dillon Valley on April 29.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Summit Daily archives

After an increase of 35 cases of the novel coronavirus reported since Sept. 11, Summit County officials are urging community members to start taking the virus more seriously.

“We are still seeing gatherings, parties, situations where people are putting themselves at a higher risk for transmission of the virus and, lo and behold, we are seeing our positive case numbers increase,” County Manager Scott Vargo said at a Summit County Board of Health meeting Thursday, Sept. 17.

The total number of cases among residents was at 403 as of Friday, Sept. 18, according to the county’s coronavirus webpage. On Sunday, Sept. 13, at least 10 positive cases of the virus were confirmed and at least 13 more cases were confirmed Tuesday, Sept. 15, according to the webpage. 

The new cases include people who tested positive for the virus and probable cases — people who show symptoms of the virus and were exposed to an infected person.

With the large increase in cases, the county is taking a step back on its plans to apply to move into the next level of the safer-at-home public health order. On Tuesday, the state announced a new dial system for moving through the phases of response to the virus. Summit County was placed in the middle of that dial on safer-at-home Level 2. 

At a Board of Health meeting Tuesday, county officials said they hoped the county would be able to move into the next level in two weeks. With the jump in new cases, the county will have to hold off on those plans. 

“This will bump us out of our ability to apply to go to Level 1 … ,” Public Health Director Amy Wineland said. “I hope that our community sees this as a wake-up call.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a new dial system for measuring response to the novel coronavirus. Summit County currently falls into the Level 2 section of the dial. With an increase in cases, the county is now unable to apply to move into Level 1.
Screenshot from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Vargo cautioned that a continued increase in the number of cases could push the county into a situation with more restrictions. 

“If we don’t control this again the way that we have for so long, then we run the risk of going backward,” he said. “Everybody wants to see a good, strong, winter season in Summit County. We are hoping that we have a little blip here but that we can quickly get everybody back on track and get everything back on track.”

Since Sept. 10, the county also has reported two additional outbreaks of the virus. A Labor Day party at a short-term rental unit in Breckenridge led to an outbreak of at least two cases of the virus. On Wednesday, Sept. 16, the county also reported an outbreak of three cases among employees of the Silverthorne Target. The county has now seen a total of nine outbreaks over the course of the pandemic.

An outbreak is defined by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a facility or nonhousehold group with onset in a 14-day period.

Wineland said that gatherings over Labor Day weekend are a main cause of the jump in cases. 

“This gives us an opportunity as a community to get things back on track,” she said. “Most of what we’re seeing happening is in the gathering situations … more than 10 people, not wearing masks, not asking friends and family members whether they have symptoms or not. It’s just an opportunity for us to really take a step back.”

Throughout the pandemic, the county has administered a total of 3,352 tests, up 58 from last week. At Tuesday’s Board of Health meeting, Wineland said it’s imperative that people get tested for the virus.

“Everyone who is sick should seek out testing. It’s free,” she said. “We really need to emphasize everyone to get tested as soon as possible. That’s the quickest way we have to identify anyone who’s positive.”

Two Summit Daily News employees and one family member who received a test for the virus in the past week reported varying response times. While one person received their result within 24 hours of the test, two others didn’t hear back for four or more days.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board also discussed the county’s approach to Halloween, which is the next major holiday that could lead to an increase in cases. 

Wineland said the county’s public health team is awaiting guidance from the state on which Halloween activities will be allowed. However, the county is communicating with local towns about their normal Halloween activities.

How to get tested

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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