Colorado public health officials urge Summit County residents to minimize all social contact

Nicole Miller, Summit Daily News

DILLON — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Sunday issued a statement asking residents and visitors of four mountain communities, including Summit, 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 — must be isolated for at least 7-10 days after the onset of symptoms, according to the release.

Summit residents and visitors are asked to do the following:

  • Work from home, if possible
  • Only go out for necessities, such as groceries and the pharmacy
  • Maintain distance of 6 feet from others
  • Travel only in a private vehicle

As of Sunday afternoon, Summit County had only two of the state’s 131 positives cases, but at least 34 local tests were pending. Health officials expect the outbreak to continue to grow rapidly, saying Friday that it is “just a matter of time before we confirm that there is community spread just as we are seeing in other communities across the state.”

Intervention efforts to limit the spread of the virus have increased on a daily basis, originally starting with a recommendation from the governor on Wednesday for people 60 and older, or with underlying health conditions, to avoid traveling to the High Country, where localized outbreaks in Eagle and Pitkin counties threatened to overwhelm health care services in those communities.

The statement appeared to blindside the ski industry, and resorts across the state sent messages to their customers committing to stay open during the busy spring break period.

Things changed quickly Saturday afternoon, when Vail Resorts announced it would close its mountains across North America. Alterra Mountain Co. and independently owned ski areas quickly followed suit.

On Saturday night, Polis issued an executive order directing the state’s nearly 30 ski areas to close for at least one week.

In a written statement, 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.”

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