By Jamie Leary

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Summit County continues to see a rise in positive cases of COVID-19 and is now working with the state on a plan to avoid tighter restrictions.

“We’re not seeing outbreaks due to capacity at restaurants and we’re really not seeing outbreaks at gyms. We are seeing outbreaks due to employees in restaurants socializing after work, staff gatherings at restaurants, businesses being lax and not following the PDP (physical distancing protocol) and people being symptomatic while going to work,” said Nicole Valentine, spokesperson for Summit County Public Health.

(credit: CBS)

Following the Labor Day holiday weekend, the county hit Safer at Home Level Three, a high risk category. While the numbers began to decline, they are once again creeping upward.

On Wednesday, the average positivity rate was hovering just below 7%, and while the number of positive cases fluctuate day to day, a total of 13 positive cases reported on Oct. 17, caused the daily percentage to jump to 18.9%.

“In terms of positive cases per day right now, we’re seeing anything between 8 and 13 per day right now which we know is way up from the beginning of September,” said Valentine.

The county says the uptick is not only due to employee gatherings, but an overall feeling of COVID fatigue.

“We’re seeing an increase in gathering sizes and some of those are related to college students coming up to Summit County and partying and so we are looking to address that,” she said.

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The county is planning to launch a campaign, that coincides with the state’s efforts and is specific to the upcoming ski season.

“So we are working to get that out in the next week or so… we are doing a drive of messaging and it really kind of piggy backs on the state campaign to ‘step up’ really as we face the third wave that we’re in and seeing.”

Summit County says the state is on board with its proactive approach which also involves working directly with community members and businesses.

(credit: CBS)

“So the state has released kind of a, four-week protocol, where week by week, we’ll enter into discussions with public health officials, allow us to take mitigation measures, and see what the impact is of those measures,” Valentine said. “So we do have a few more weeks, so we’re looking really to start implementing measures and again judge and see what that impact is before we look to maybe having to enforce more restrictive measures form the state.”

The county has its share of challenges in the coming weeks, but were hopeful, with more messaging and public outreach, community members will buckle down.

“With fall break happening this weekend, and Halloween coming up as well as a number of holidays, this is a critical moment and we need the community to step up and support our season and really just refrain from the gatherings.”

Valentine said there are now ways the public can help enforce the message. The county has created a public health order violation hotline people can call if they see large gatherings occurring.

“That helps with enforcement because sometimes we hear ‘oh this is just not enforced’ and so we really ask our community to help us with that,” she said.

The number to call if you believe someone is violating the public health order is: (970) 668-8600.

Jamie Leary

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