Top 5 stories on SummitDaily.com, week of March 15
Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on SummitDaily.com for the past week.
On March 14, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order to close the state’s nearly 30 ski areas for one week amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
“Never would I have believed that a global pandemic would force the temporary closure of our world-class ski resorts,” Polis wrote in an email announcing the news.
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Before Polis’ announcement, Vail Resorts was the first major ski area operator in the country to announce that it would close its resorts amid the outbreak.
Polis called the decision “agonizing” and said he would “take solace in knowing that … we will be saving the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Coloradans in the days and weeks ahead.”
Since then, Vail Resorts and Loveland Ski Area have announced they will be closed for the remainder of the season, with the exception of the possible re-opening of Breckenridge Ski Resort, depending on snow and the new coronavirus situation. On March 18, Polis announced the closure would remain in place for an additional two weeks, through at least April 6. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area closed its uphill access, and on March 20, Breckenridge and Keystone resorts announced the same.
— Summit Daily staff report
Summit County officials issued a public health order Monday afternoon, announcing sweeping business closures throughout the area to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The order included all municipalities. Only banks, grocery stores, liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, pharmacies and gas stations are to open. Restaurants are allowed to continue providing delivery and takeout options.
In addition, the Summit Stage and Breckenridge Free Ride bus services are suspended and will not resume until further notice. All retail businesses that see foot traffic from the general public were required to close, as well as all lodging businesses — including hotels, motels, timeshares and short-term rentals.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on March 15 issued a statement asking residents and visitors of four mountain communities, including Summit County, to “minimize their contact with other people” in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19.
“Anyone who has been in Eagle, Summit, Pitkin or Gunnison counties in the past week should minimize all contact with other people, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms,” the statement said.
Those who are experiencing symptoms — including a cough, fever and shortness of breath — should call their health care provider and must be isolated for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms, according to local health officials. People who are ill should leave isolation only after their symptoms improve and they don’t have a fever for 72 hours, without the help of fever-reducing medications.
A new case reported March 18 follows the news of three additional cases a day earlier, when Summit County Public Health officials confirmed community spread, meaning the virus is passing from person to person within the Summit community.
Now that community spread is confirmed, Summit County health officials will shift their focus from containment to mitigation. With that, the purpose of testing changes, prioritizing testing for the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, Summit County first responders and Summit County health care workers.
“With confirmed community spread, everyone should assume that they are coming into contact with the virus frequently when in public spaces,” according to Summit County spokeswoman Julie Sutor. “That’s why stressing the public health interventions is so important.”
Part-time Breckenridge resident Michael Murphy waited five days for his COVID-19 test results, which came back positive. He said his symptoms began late March 7 and that he was tested March 12 at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco after his symptoms worsened.
Murphy expressed frustrations about the delay in getting his test results, wondering why people should even be tested if their self-isolation period could potentially expire before results are received.
The volume of testing for the COVID-19 virus has overwhelmed the Colorado public health lab, the state public health incident commander for the disease admitted.
“We are doing everything we can at the state lab to work through the backlog,” incident commander Scott Bookman said. “The volume of testing that has been required in response to this incident has been overwhelming. We have not had as much support from our private partners as we expected to have.”
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