So much has changed since the first case of COVID-19 in Colorado was confirmed here in Summit County on March 5. This post is intended to serve as a roundup of where we are with current conditions, restrictions, resources for individuals and families, State and Federal economic support and recovery, and what is going on specifically in the Town of Frisco. We will reference and link to the best sources for information so no one needs to rely on political pundits, memes, or Facebook threads for information. This virus is a horrible and tragic disrupter to our health and economy, but misinformation has been coming in a close second.
Please note that this is necessarily long so we can provide you with a comprehensive roundup, which respects your efforts and time with valuable information and resources in one place.
Current Conditions and Public Health Orders and Restrictions
As of 11:00am on Friday, March 20, 2020, there are eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Summit County. Updates are made on the Summit County COVID-19 website every day.
Updated COVID-19 numbers for the State of Colorado may be found on the State COVID-19 website and are updated around 4:00pm each day.
Why don’t they just test everyone?
According to Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland, it is a matter of supply and of prioritizing and rationing the tests to make best use of the information.
“We have limited testing kits, so we’re only able to test those in our highest-risk categories, local health-care workers and first responders,” Wineland said. “That’s why we can’t test more and show we have more widespread illness. But we know that it’s here.”
Front-line health-care workers and medics face a potential two-week quarantine and restriction from working if they are exposed directly to a person with the highly infectious virus or are exhibiting symptoms themselves. A negative test result for them, however, will allow them to return to their duties 72 hours after symptoms clear up, reducing the strain on the rest of the medical corps.
If you have symptoms (cough, fever and trouble breathing), then call (don’t go) to your healthcare provider and be prepared for advice that will likely include a two week self-quarantine. You will only be admitted to the hospital if you have severe symptoms.
What can I do? Can I go to Moab for the weekend?
You can do a lot- walks, cross-country skiing, hanging with those in your household, reading, virtual happy hours, calling people you haven’t called in a long time, doing art… Be smart about your outdoor recreation and keep risk to a minimum, so search and rescue missions are the unlikely outcome of your adventures. Have fun and do things that support your mental health.
You are allowed by law to leave Summit County, but it is highly discouraged, super uncool, and in absolute contradiction to what we are trying to achieve as a state and community. To be clear- we are doing this to save lives by slowing the spread of COVID-19, and Governor Polis singled out four mountain counties, including Summit, because of our high levels of tourism, the likelihood that we have been exposed, and our limited health resources. This is clearly not a vacation, and the intention of this recommendation is to limit all personal contact to those in our household, and if we need to go out to recreate (and we do!) or to go to shop for essentials, then we need to stay six feet from people and be very aware of practicing great hygiene by washing/sanitizing hands, not touching our faces, and avoiding touching high traffic surfaces. Yes, that means parents should even avoid setting up playdates for their kids. We are going to get to know those in our households a lot better!
How long will this last?
We will reach a point when public health professionals will recognize that we have greatly impacted the spread, and we will ease into more normal lives, but ones with vigilance around health and hygiene because a vaccine and eradication are a ways off. There is not an identified date for this, but there will come a time when your life will look a lot more like it did two months ago. We will get there.
Public Health Orders and Restrictions
Public health orders are coming from Summit Public Health, which has jurisdiction over all of Summit County and its towns, in matters of public health. Summit Public Health issued the order this week, which restricted restaurant, bar, retail, transportation and lodging operations. Here is a link to that order and a Q & A from Summit Public Health. We are sharing this order and Q&A so you can see what the restrictions are straight from the source.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Governor’s Office also issue public health orders or executive orders, and whichever order is stricter (Summit County or State), is the one we must follow. These State orders can be found half-way down their webpage on the right side. The most recent orders suspended operation of private and public elementary and secondary schools through April 17, 2020 and closed all bars, restaurants, theaters, gymnasiums, and casinos. We are providing these links as examples so you know where to reach for the most accurate information. Help us combat rumors. Example- there have been ongoing rumors that the State is closing I70. The Town of Frisco has been in on calls with the state, and this has never been suggested, as I70 is a vital supply route. Look to trusted sources before believing a rumor.
The Federal government also has the ability to issue these types of orders, but the State of Colorado has largely been ahead of Federal directives, and the Federal government largely relies on state and local expertise around issuing public health orders locally. State and local entities follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as a public health professionals, to make scientifically informed choices that save lives.
Resources for Families and Individuals
Hope for the future can certainly be found in the generosity of our community. Here is a list of local efforts to support folks who have been impacted by loss of income.
- The Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) offers food assistance for those in need and is providing packaged food kits for drive-through service at both its Breckenridge and Silverthorne locations. Call 970-262-3888 for eligibility guidelines and to sign up in advance of receiving this service. The FIRC’s Thrift Stores are closed, and the agency is not accepting donations of clothing, household goods or food at this time. FIRC is accepting financial donations to buy necessities for those in need, and those donations can be online.
- The Summit County Community & Senior Center has a corps of volunteers who are delivering pre-made meals – either to seniors or those in the medically at-risk populations who shouldn’t leave their homes or people who have developed symptoms and are staying in isolation. Those who sign up for this service at 970-668-2945 will have food left outside their door to avoid face-to-face interaction and prevent any potential for virus transmission. Volunteers still are needed for assembling the meals and deliveries and for other errands and tasks; to sign up, please call 970-668-2940.
- Food pantries are being offered at:
- Father Dyer Church in Breckenridge from 10:00am to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC)
- Breckenridge: 10:30am-12:30pm Mon/Weds; 5:00pm-7:00pm, 2nd Weds
- Silverthorne: 10:30am-12:30pm, Tues/Thurs; 5:00pm-7:00pm, 2nd Tues
- Dillon Community Church from 4:00pm to 5:30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm on Fridays.
- Food Bank of the Rockies will have their mobile food pantry at the Frisco Bus Barn at the County Commons on March 26 at 10:00 am.
- Community meals are being offered at::
- Father Dyer Church in Breckenridge: Sunday evening at 6:00pm, prepackaged meals
- Rotary at the Elks Lodge in Silverthorne from 5:00pm – 7:00pm on Tuesday evenings, prepackaged meals
- Agape Church between Breckenridge and Frisco: meals and shower/laundry services on Mondays from 1:00pm – 4:00pm; additional hours by appointment, call 970-453-1247 ext. 101
- Smart Bellies is offering food for students in need from 11:00am to 1:00pm on Fridays at Dillon Valley Elementary School and at the Summit High School.
- Mental Health & Recovery
- Building Hope: buildinghopesummit.org or call for English 970-389-1151 and Spanish 970-485-6271
- FIRC Mental Health Navigators: English or Español, 970-262-3888
- Mental Health Crisis Line- 844-493-8255
- Locally, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and City Market are hiring, and want the community to be aware of this.
State and Federal Resources for Individuals and Families
- The State of Colorado has processed a record amount of unemployment claims and recommends that people apply online late night or early morning to avoid site slowdowns and avoid frustration.
- The State of Colorado has opened an emergency Special Enrollment period for health insurance from Friday, March 20 thru Friday, April 3, 2020 to help as many people as possible protect their health and safety during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- For those with questions about COVID-19 and their own health status, CO-HELP is Colorado’s call line for general questions about the virus, providing answers in many languages including English, Spanish, Mandarin and more. It can be reached at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911, seven days a week between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm.
- Telephone consultations with nurses – including free options – also can be arranged through the State of Colorado website.
- The United States Department of Agriculture administers food assistance programs and has pledged “to use all available program flexibilities and contingencies to serve our program participants across our 15 nutrition programs”. This includes their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). To that end, they are committing to be more flexible and to ease restrictions in order to respond to COVID-19. Two Summit County organizations can also help with enrollment: FIRC 970-262-388 or Summit County Human Services at 970-668-9160.
- Statewide, Gov. Jared Polis announced the launch of the Help Colorado Now effort, through which Coloradans can donate or volunteer, as well as the Colorado COVID Relief Fund, which has already raised nearly $3 million to help Coloradans impacted by the COVID-19. Coloradans can donate or sign up to volunteer at ColoradoNow.org.
State and Federal economic support and recovery
Today, Governor Polis rolled out a plan to provide relief and support for businesses, families and individuals. We recommend that folks watch the March 20 press conference with Governor Polis to get a more complete picture of the State’s plans around economic support and recovery. Here are a few highlights:
- State of Colorado Business Loan Information- Colorado small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can seek individual small business loans up to $2M as part of the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Small businesses throughout all 64 counties may seek SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Governor Jared Polis announced that Colorado’s application for federal disaster area designation has been approved. More information.
- Colorado’s state tax payment deadline was moved to July 15, 2020; interest and penalties were waived. The extension applies to all filers, both individuals and businesses with no limits. This guidance does not change the April 15 filing deadline.
- Governor Polis pledged that State resources would not be used to enforce evictions unless required for public safety, and encouraged local law enforcement to follow suit.
- Governor Polis also announced the formation of a new economic council to offer guidance for the state, chaired by former Denver mayor Federico Peña. The council will focus on covering medical costs, paid sick leave, testing, treatment, and training workers for new jobs.
- Governor Polis has also reached to utility providers to urge them not to shut off service due to lack of payment. Xcel Energy has already committed to this.
The Federal Government continues to work through legislative and executive branch decisions to provide financial relief and support.
- On March 13, President Trump announced a state of emergency, allowing the Federal Government to distribute up to $50 billion in aid to states, cities, and territories.
- The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. The guidance also allows corporate taxpayers a similar deferment of up to $10 million of federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. This guidance does not change the April 15 filing deadline.
- Here are some of the things currently being considered (they have not been passed) in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate:
- Expanded unemployment benefits
- Additional funds for Medicaid
- A provision requiring paid sick leave for some workers affected by COVID-19
- A tax credit of $1,200 per adult and $500 for each child for some families. The amount would be lower for people making between $75,000 and $99,000 a year, and none for people making over that amount. For people who pay less than $1200 in taxes the amount goes down, down to a minimum of $600 for the poorest people who have no federal income tax liability. And even that $600 is dependent on making at least $25,000 in qualifying income.
- $300 billion in loans to small business with under 500 employees, with loans capped at $10 million. Part of the loan would be forgiven if the companies don’t lay off any employees through the end of June.
- $50 billion in loans and loan guarantees for passenger airlines
- $8 billion in loans and loan guarantees for cargo airlines
- $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees for “other eligible businesses” The Treasury Department would have a lot of latitude to decide what falls into this category.
- The legislation would also cap compensation for “any officer or employee” of the firms receiving loans at $425,000 a year until March 1, 2022.
Town of Frisco
- The Town continues to provide essential services, police, snow removal, and water, and the Town has seven months of funding in reserve to cover operational expenses. Staff is also continuing to work on ongoing projects, which will lay the foundation for quickly re-starting normal business and supporting recovery.
- The Town will re-strategize our destination marketing plan and make sure that the things that bring people to our town when we are ready are as extraordinary as ever; this includes everything from beautiful flowers on Main Street to a vibrant Marina and well-maintained trails.
- Starting on March 20, the Town of Frisco resumed grooming the Frisco Nordic Center trails, so folks can get outside to ski free of charge.
- Many businesses have reached out individually to the Town of Frisco to get approval for creative business ideas. We applaud business innovation, and we need to remind businesses that ideas/adaptations must comply with the Public Health Order issued by Summit County Health, which has jurisdiction over Summit County and all of the towns in matters of public health. We urge businesses to read this order and determine if business ideas can meet these restrictions, while still allowing businesses to provide goods and/or services. The Town of Frisco is not permitted to amend this Summit Public Health Order, and the Town does not have the authority or public health expertise to approve or permit ideas. The Public Health Order and the Public Health Q&A are the resources that will assist businesses in determining which business practices are allowed and will still serve the goal of slowing the spread of COVID-19, protecting your customers and employees, and saving lives.
- If businesses are able to flex their business model and meet public health requirements, then they will be included in Frisco’s business resource list. Any businesses that wants to be added to that list may email Nora Gilbertson at Email with details regarding their business and modified operations.
- The Town of Frisco has also provided the Family Intercultural Resource Center with $10,000 in emergency funding for their efforts to help families and individuals, and is providing labor and equipment resources to assist with support efforts out of the Summit Senior and Community Center.
- Two Town of Frisco staff members are being dedicated to assisting businesses with State and Federal assistance, relief, and grant programs going forward.
- On Tuesday, March 24 at 7:00pm, Frisco Town Council will have a regular meeting, after having had two special meetings this week. During that time Town Council will be making decisions around the ongoing response to COVID-19. This will include discussions around delaying the remittance of taxes collected by businesses for the Town of Frisco, as well as other discussions around efforts to support individuals and businesses. You are invited to join this virtual meeting, and instructions may be found at FriscoGov.com.
Thanks for hanging in there and reading all the way to the end. We hope that you have found this helpful.
Frisco’s Council and staff will work every day to usher Frisco through this health and economic crisis. We need and are grateful for your partnership. So please reach to accurate sources of information; share facts, not rumors; take care of your mental health by doing the things that you love and focusing on what you can control; lead with kindness and compassion, as anger won’t serve any of us; and above all be well and recognize that hope lives in our ability to come together for a common purpose. We will get through this together, and a time for celebrating our successes will come.