Top 5 most-read stories on, week of April 5 |

Top 5 most-read stories on, week of April 5

St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco on Friday, April 3.
Liz Copan /

Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on for the past week.

1. Doctor says peak of COVID-19 cases in Summit County is a few weeks away

Last week, Summit Community Care Clinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kathleen Cowie said Summit County and the state are likely just a few weeks away from the peak of new coronavirus cases.

“I think we’re reaching our peak,” Cowie said. “Just talking this week with folks from (St. Anthony) Summit Medical Center and from other medical providers in the state, we’re getting close, but we’re not quite there yet.”

Officials from Centura Health, parent company of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, said April 6 in a news release that the company expects the “health systems’ and communities’ response to COVID-19 to be critically important these next two weeks through at least the end of April and into early May in Colorado.”

Taylor Sienkiewicz

2. Forest Service monitors forest access points but doesn’t anticipate new, major closures

While some National Forest land including ski areas and recreation facilities like toilets and group sites are closed, the Forest Service said around April 5 it had left other recreation — mainly hiking and cross-country skiing trails — open for local residents to get outside during the novel coronavirus quarantine. The Forest Service was asking people to use their best judgment when recreating so that individuals don’t become “part of the problem.”

Later in the week, the U.S. Forest Service announced new site closures and fire restrictions around the Rocky Mountain Region hoping to better align their policies with local, state and federal public health guidelines. This included temporarily closing all developed recreation sites, and while dispersed camping, hiking and river uses are still allowed, officials are discouraging anyone from taking part on those activities.

Closed recreation sites include campgrounds, day-use areas, picnic areas and any other constructed facility amenities. Parking facilities, trails and trailheads will remain open.

Taylor Sienkiewicz and Sawyer D’Argonne 

3. Summit County coronavirus cases total 58, more than tripling in the past week

On April 6, a total of 58 cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Summit County. While the total number of cases in the county is a running tally that began with the first positive case reported March 5, the total number of cases has dramatically increased over the past week. 

On March 31, 19 cases were reported in the county. One week later, the count is 58, an increase of more than 200%. Health officials have stressed that the number of confirmed cases is not representative of the spread of the virus in the community because testing is being prioritized for first responders, health care providers and patients who are moderately or severely ill.

On April 9, the total number of known cases was 63.

Taylor Sienkiewicz

4. Witness: Vail ‘lift operator was not paying attention’ during chairlift death

As Jason Varnish hung to death on a Vail chairlift in February, the lone lift operator yelled to witnesses that he was not able to reverse the lift without permission, according to a Sheriff’s Office incident report released last week.

The witness attempted to board Chair 37 with Varnish that day, and noticed the seat had been folded up so a rider could not sit down without falling through. “(Varnish) tried to push it down,” the report states.

The witness told police Varnish’s clothing got caught on the rubber stopper, he thought, lifting him 20-25 feet off the ground. The witness yelled for the lift operator to stop the lift, the report says. “The lift operator was not paying attention and had been cleaning off snow in the area,” according to the witness.

Guests attempted to form a human pyramid to push up Varnish’s legs and feet but “were not able to do this due to the snow being so deep,” the report states.

— John LaConte Vail Daily

5. 80 Vail Resorts employees from Ecuador are stuck in Colorado’s mountain towns

A month ago, Grace Barrera had a seasonal job picking up trash and cleaning tables for about $12 an hour at a mountaintop restaurant on Vail Mountain. But now, the 28-year-old is one of about 80 Ecuadorians stranded in Eagle and Summit counties because the ski areas have been shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak.

She has a plane ticket to return home on April 30, but she could not afford the exorbitant change fee to re-book for an earlier flight, she said. And even if she could, Ecuador closed its borders because of the coronavirus outbreak the same weekend Colorado ski resorts were closed.

So with two parents and a sister back in Ecuador, Barrera lives rent-free in Vail employee housing, and she waits.

— The Denver Post

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