Summit County tallies $321.5 million economic loss due to COVID-19
FRISCO — A recent uptick in case numbers, the upcoming holidays and the winter ahead were all topics of discussion at the Summit County virtual town hall Monday, Oct. 5.
Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence gave a rough outline of the timeline of the pandemic, sharing metrics from the economic impact of the shutdown, which came in at a $321.5 million loss, but said that it’s been a busy summer with visitation data showing out-of-county visits in July on par with last summer.
While case data remained level throughout the summer, Public Health Director Amy Wineland said the county’s greatest number of cases have occurred in the past two to three weeks.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to sustain the low levels of virus spread,” Wineland said.
One town hall viewer suggested that visitors were spreading the virus, but Lawrence refuted that, noting that recent outbreaks have been linked to coworkers.
Wineland listed several trends that public health is seeing, including outbreaks in workplaces and with social gatherings, gatherings or meetings taking place with more than 10 people and without masks, employees going to work sick, and employers not implementing physical distancing or health checks. In restaurants, she said staff members have been staying after their shifts to drink with colleagues.
Wineland pleaded with residents to get back on track.
“If (the county) is out of compliance with any of the metrics for more than two weeks, we are required to engage in a consultation with (the Colorado Department of Health and Environment), which may … mean that we would be taking steps backward and moving to a more restrictive phase,” Wineland said.
Holidays were a major topic of the town hall discussion. Wineland said the county doesn’t seem to be recovering from the spike in cases following the Labor Day holiday as well as it has from previous holidays, including Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
“This is concerning as we have several holidays that are coming up,” Wineland said.
Traditional trick-or-treating is discouraged this year, Wineland explained, because it mixes lots of different households at close range. She suggested laying out individually wrapped pieces of candy at the edge of the driveway or yard for children to pick up instead of handing it out at the door.
Wineland said it is important for people to stay in their own neighborhoods and with their own household members while celebrating Halloween. She noted that costume masks don’t protect against coronavirus and urged people to be mindful that alcohol and drugs can cloud judgment. Wineland also asked members of vulnerable populations to consider not participating in Halloween this year.
Noting that other upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas traditionally involve multigenerational gatherings, Wineland asked families to make plans now to keep people healthy.
Addressing virus fatigue, Wineland said people should continue to follow precautions, such as wearing masks, until they become habits. She said adapting to life with COVID-19 is possible and used examples of how people have adapted to other safety measures such as wearing seat belts and helmets.
Looking to winter, Wineland said guidelines for ski resorts will be released in the next week or so from the state. She noted that each ski area’s plan must be approved by Summit County Public Health as well as the state health department. Wineland said the biggest concerns have to do with “pinch points,” such as transportation, indoor activities and employee housing.
Wineland also noted that over 45% of testing done in the past five days was for people who have symptoms. Testing is not recommended for people who do not have symptoms of the virus or known exposure.
Centura Health continues to provide testing through its daily clinic at the Vista Professional Building in Frisco and through the county’s mobile testing program. To schedule an appointment, call 970-668-5584.
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