By Jamie Leary

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Summit County has until next Wednesday to show either a plateau or decline in the number of positive COVID-19 cases or it will move into Safer at Home Level 3: High Risk.

(credit: Frisco)

“Unfortunately, we’re still hearing that you know, the changes at the high school, the information that we’ve put out, the concerns that we’ve raised have not stopped the intent of people to host parties going forward and so, you know, hopefully that sinks in and hopefully we start to see that sort of behavior eliminated within the community so that we can get back on track with our case activity, and we don’t face much more severe restrictions that are going to really impact the economy within Summit County,” said Scott Vargo, Summit County Manager.

During a meeting Thursday, the county announced a new public health order, which will include limitations to indoor and outdoor event sizes, capping them at 25 people and 75 people respectively, using the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Distancing Calculator.

On Wednesday, Summit County Public Health announced that it was investigating an outbreak among high school students linked to a party. So far 22 have tested positive but Vargo said contact tracing has been difficult.

“They haven’t necessarily been as fourth coming as we would’ve hoped,” said Vargo.

Sarah Vaine, Assistant County Manager during Thursday’s meeting, noted that one of the young people interviewed felt like they were being blamed for the outbreak.

(credit: CBS)

“I just want to be clear that we don’t want to blame anyone, we want everyone to take personal responsibility to understand this is serious and to just understand that it has an impact beyond each individual who tests positive, and that even if people aren’t terrible sick, every one of those positives impacts our economy and so it’s not about blame,” Vaine continued, “although we do think that people who are knowingly violating the public health order should have some consequence. It’s really about encouraging people to care for the community and care for each other.”

If the county moved into the next level of restrictions, guidelines imposed by the state would include:

  • Restaurants reduced to 25% capacity or 50 people per the space calculator
  • Retail reduced to 25% capacity
  • Personal Services reduced to 25% capacity or 25 people per the space calculator
  • Offices 25% capacity
  • Gyms and Fitness centers reduced to 25% capacity or 25 people per the space calculator
  • Group Sports – virtual or outdoors in groups less than 10
  • Outdoor Recreation reduced to 25% capacity or 10 people

As of Oct. 29, the Summit County Two-Week Cumulative Incidence is in the red Stay at Home level on the state dial with 539.0 cases per 100,000 people, with a 10.6 rolling 14-day percent test positivity rate.

“We are seeing a volume that is beyond what we’re seeing historically,” said Vargo during Thursday’s meeting.

In addition to the new health order, the county says more testing for those exposed is crucial. It has been developing plans to expand with Centura Health and has formed a new partnership with Vail Health.

“We really absolutely need everyone to get tested as soon as possible so we can contain it from spreading more,” said Amy Wineland, Summit County Public Health Director.

(credit: CBS)

The county has plans to double testing capacity and is looking at an additional testing facility near the Silverthorne Recreation Center.

While the plan is to have additional tests available by Nov. 9, Vargo said he’s optimistic more tests will be available even sooner.

To view the local public health order, including the mitigation measures for events, businesses, short-term lodging, restaurants and bars, visit Summit County Public Health Order Closures.

Jamie Leary

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