The number of positive COVID cases in Summit County has skyrocketed. On October 23, when Summit Public Health made the first major change to public health orders in quite a while, Summit County was at 371.2 cases per 100,000 people. As of November 20, Summit County’s two-week incidence is 1,149 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people.
Why is this happening?
We are inside more. We aren’t as consistently wearing face coverings or washing our hands. COVID fatigue has understandably set in. We are taking risks because we didn’t get sick in the spring, because this is really hard, because we crave connection… More people are making the decision to get together with people outside of their household, which is resulting in community spread, and for many, the outcome will be mild or moderate illness, but for others it will be a life changing or life ending illness.
What is community spread?
Community spread is when someone gets the virus without any known contact with a sick person. The high infection rates in Summit point to the likely reality that there are many people who are unknowingly infecting others during the asymptomatic period before they get sick or during a completely asymptomatic infection. ONLY gathering with folks in your household and taking physical distancing and face covering precautions everywhere else is a powerful way to stop this virus from spreading beyond you when you don’t know you have it. When we go to a gathering with friends or family, we inevitably don’t wear our masks and we let our guard down, and it has the potential to do real harm to the people we care about the most.
What are public health professionals concerned about?
Hospital staff being put in the position to make life or death choices about who they have room, equipment, and staff to treat. Most COVID cases and other serious illnesses in Summit are transferred to Front Range hospitals where the lower altitude and more resources can give the sick a better chance at recovery. This means we need to keep an eye on the occupancy levels in Front Range hospitals and not just in our own local hospital.
Also, hospitals are not just there to treat COVID patients. They need to be able to treat heart attacks, car accidents, cancer, strokes, etc… and no one ever wants to be put in a situation where they have to make a decision about who will get an ICU bed because there aren’t enough for everyone who needs one. And you can’t wait until hospitals are full to take the steps that might prevent them from being full; it’s too late at that point.
What are metrics/community goals?
- Reduce how much the virus is circulating in Summit Count to less than 350 per 100,000 people; reminder- it’s at 1,149 cases per 100,000 as of November 20. In order to have a common measure across counties small, medium, and large, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment calculates rates based on what they would be if there were 100,000 people.
- Reduce percent positivity to less than 5%. The good news is that there is a lot more testing available in Summit, and you don’t need to have symptoms to get tested. The positivity rate is intended to indicate that enough testing is available to get a true picture of infection rates, and as of November 20, Summit County reported a 12.3 percent rolling 14-day average positivity rate. Get tested! It’s free.
- Keep hospitalizations from rising. Since November 7, seven Summit County residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, after just two hospitalizations in the previous two weeks. Right now 47% of adult critical care ventilators are in use in the state (it was 32% on October 23), and we want to do everything we can not to add to that patient count so there is room to treat everyone who needs it. Reminder- most critically ill Summit patients are transferred to the Front Range so the hospital occupancy rates there are important to understand and consider.
Facts, not opinions
- Know the facts- Check out Summit County case data and State case data.
- Check out the State COVID-19 dial page for an easy to understand table (about half way down the page) that explains the different milestones for each level.
Who has jurisdiction over public health decisions?
The State of Colorado and Summit County have jurisdiction over public health; the Town of Frisco does NOT. Instead, the Town of Frisco plays a helpful role by supporting public health efforts, our residents, and our businesses through enforcement, providing infrastructure for efforts such as expanded testing when possible, distributing communications like this, and by starting and implementing programs for business resiliency and recovery. In this case, the State of Colorado directed Summit County (and 19 other counties) to move to a “severe risk” or red level on the State COVID dial due to the amount of cases in Summit.
What are the restrictions and what do the mean here in Summit County?
The new Summit public health order went into effect on Friday, November 20, 2020 at 5:00pm and will remain in effect until December 18, 2020 at 11:59pm unless amended or extended. The prohibition on dining indoors at restaurants will go into effect on November 22 at 5:00pm; Summit County asked the State of Colorado to move this deadline from Friday so restaurants would have more opportunity to sell the food that they already have in stock and have a little more time to plan.
Lodging and short term rentals
- Lodging stays must be limited to a single household in any lodging unit, including short-term vacation rentals. A household is defined as the person or persons who live together in a single residence.
- The single-household limit applies to all lodging stays, including those for which reservations have already been made. Reservations that include guests from two or more households must be changed or canceled to comply with the regulation.
- The rental of individual rooms in a residence, as a short lodging unit where other occupants/residents are present, is prohibited.
- Owners and/or entities responsible for the booking and renting of short-term lodging units must confirm the identity of all renters upon arrival to ensure all individuals are arriving from the same residence
- Frisco Short Term Rental Complaint Hotline- 970-432-8291 and online form
- Indoor dining is prohibited starting at 5:00pm on November 22, 2020.
- Takeout, curbside pickup, delivery and to-go services are permitted.
- Outdoor dining is allowed only with single-household groups at each table, spaced 6 feet apart- link to more guidance regarding tents, yurts, etc… and what is considered allowed outdoor dining.
- Sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption by customers or employees must end at 8:00 pm. Takeout alcohol sales must end at 10:00 pm.
Restaurant and lodging employee information requirements
- The following information must be collected for restaurant and lodging employees to make contact tracing efforts more efficient and effective in the case of a workplace outbreak.
- Current contact information for all employees,
- Dates of all shifts worked by all employees, dating back to re-opening, and
- Other known places of employment for each employee.
Local ski areas are required to further reduce their daily capacities relative to those designated in their existing COVID-19 operating plans filed with the State of Colorado. Summit Public Health will approve, or if necessary impose modified capacities, no later than November 24, 2020 with an effective date of November 25, 2020.
May operate at 50 percent of the posted occupancy limit and should offer enhanced options for curbside pickup, delivery, and dedicated service hours for seniors and at-risk individuals.
10 percent of posted occupancy limit; remote work strongly encouraged.
10 percent of indoor occupancy limit or 10 people per room, whichever is less; groups of 10 or less outdoors, maintaining 6 feet of distance between non-household contacts; reservations required for all services.
Organized youth and adult sports and camps
Virtual allowed; outdoors in groups of 10 or less, with 6 feet of distance between non-household contacts.
25% of posted occupancy limit or 25 people, whichever is less.
Limited to people in your own household only
25% capacity with 75 people max and attended only with members of your own household and 6ft spacing between household groups
Advised to stay at home and include people over 65, people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women.
- In-person learning suggested for preschool through fifth grade; in-person, hybrid or remote learning suggested for middle school; and hybrid or remote learning suggested for high school.
- On November 20, Summit School District made the decision to pause in-person learning for scholars in grades kindergarten through 12th grade following Thanksgiving break, beginning on November 30, 2020. The Summit School District has indicated that they will be working on the possibility of providing some limited in-person support to students who are non-English proficient and scholars with disabilities.
- The Town of Frisco Recreation staff is working to extend their current Wednesday Remote Learning + Frisco Fun Club in person program to three additional days- Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays- FriscoCamps.com.
Remote suggested, limited in-person learning when necessary.
Open, with standard ratios.
Houses of worship and life rites
Operate at 25 percent of posted occupancy limit or 50 attendees, whichever is less.
- Across the county, police departments have committed to stepping up enforcement of public health orders.
- Call non-emergency dispatch at 970-668-8600 to reach law enforcement across the county.
- As always, call 911 in an emergency.
2020 has really been a dumpster fire. What next?
It has been a rough year. And these current restrictions, especially on restaurants, are particularly difficult and will result in real hardship, which will demand support. We have the power as individuals to change course and bring these numbers down. Vaccine distribution plans are already being discussed and planned for here in Summit County. There is some light starting to illuminate the dark, but we have a few tough months ahead of us. Here are a few things we can do right now to tamp down that 2020 dumpster fire and support each other:
- Commit to gathering with people who are just part of your immediate household
- Commit to wearing a face covering, staying home when you are sick, getting a flu shot, maintaining physical distance, and practicing effective personal hygiene
- Commit to shopping for your holiday gifts at locally owned small businesses
- Commit to take out and generous tips at least twice a week at your favorite locally owned restaurants
- Choose a beloved local non-profit to donate to on Colorado Gives Day on December 8 so they can benefit from the 1 million dollar incentive fund
- Use Frisco’s shop local program Love Frisco, Winter Frisco to get some free money to spend at local businesses- LoveFriscoCO.com.
- Take it easy on yourself; these are difficult times and it’s normal to feel sad, frustrated, lonely, … but you don’t need to go it alone: Available 24/7 with a friendly, free and confidential help on the other end no matter your issue- Colorado Crisis Hotline– 1-844-493-8255 and the incredible local resources at Building Hope.
- Above all- stay well and help those around you do the same