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COVID in Summit County: Testing Increases Ahead of Thanksgiving Holiday, Focus Shifts to Lodging Restrictions

This article and video first appeared in CBS Denver on November 19, 2020.

FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4)– Despite the rise in COVID-19 cases over the last few months in Summit County, people are still booking vacations. Officials warn, while you may be able to hit the slopes, there are a few things you should prepare for.

During a Town Hall on Thursday, Summit County officials reviewed the move to Level Red and took dozens of questions from community members. A large part of the focus was on lodging and the ski season in general- it’s going to be a busy winter.

The Breckenridge Office of Tourism says winter occupancy (Nov-April) is up 2.2% year over year and occupancy for the Thanksgiving holiday (Tuesday-Sunday nights) is up 37% compared to the same time last year.

The county is hoping all of those who booked, are aware, they can’t come with anyone they don’t already live with.

“Only celebrate within your household, household means the people you are living with currently it doesn’t mean when your aunt comes in from California and they are coming in for the holiday that they are now part of your household. It really should only be people that you’re currently living with,” said Amy Wineland, Director of Public Health for Summit County.

Wineland said the county would rely partly on property managers and owners to make sure the new capacity restrictions were being followed.

“We are requiring that property managers check in, and verify people coming in to rent short term lodging units. They have to verify the person is who is renting the unit, and verify those coming are within one household,” she said.

One attendee asked if those who had prior plans could be grandfathered in under the previous Level Orange restriction, which allowed two households.

“No. There is no grandfathering in of anything. The only one exception in the letter that we received, is if there was a wedding or funeral already scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 20 and 22,” she replied.

Wineland said people can call the public health hotline to report violations and noted their new partnership with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, which recently rehired two dedicated rangers to enforce the order.

“Everybody could be ticketed- it can be the property manager, the owner as well as the person renting who’s not following our local order,” she said.

Summit County Public Health also said there could be restrictions to the number of skiers allowed on the mountain at local ski areas but said it was still trying to figure out what that would look like.

The restrictions aren’t the only way Summit County is hoping to curb the rise in cases. It’s now encouraging everyone to get tested and has expanded capacity just in time for the influx of visitors.

“We specifically expanded our testing capacity not only in anticipation of a potential surge in local case numbers during a second wave of the virus, but also in anticipation of ski season and the heavy out of town visitation that it brings, as well as the influx of workers to staff the resorts,” said Nicole Valentine, Public Information Officer for Summit County Public Health.

Through a partnership with Vail Health, Summit County added a third testing site in Frisco just over three weeks ago.

“We’re ready for it if the community shows the need,” said Shaneis Kehoe, Director of Population Health and acute care services with Vail health and Colorado Mountain Medical. “We see anywhere from about 20 to 70 patients here a day and that’s a plethora of asymptomatic or without symptoms and symptomatic, and we’re able to test both of them.”

The facility has the capacity to test up to 200 patients a day and thanks to increased testing capabilities at Vail Health, can have results in as little as 24 hours.

The most recent site, a mobile testing site, was added in partnership with the state and has been extended to operate until Dec. 30.

“Their capacity is somewhere around 600 tests a day, and probably can be expanded even beyond that,” said Scott Vargo, Summit County Manager.

Vargo said they are working to identify additional space in Silverthorne to provide some additional shelter from the winter weather.

The mobile testing site is the fourth site in Summit County, and it now has the capacity to test more than 1,000 people if needed.

“We are opening up testing to anybody that wants to get a test. There’s a large percentage of folks that are asymptomatic, that have the virus, that can transmit the virus, have no idea they have it,” Vargo continued, “the quicker we can isolate those folks, the quicker we can identify the close contacts that they may have had and quarantine them to try to reduce the spread.

None of the facilities require an out-of-pocket fee and for those without insurance, it’s free.

The county says the new restrictions are expected to last for at least a month and hope people take the time to take advantage of testing and spend time with only with members of their own households.

“It is hard, it has been long, it has been sacrifice after sacrifice for people. What we’re trying to do is get our numbers back down so that we can reopen things slowly, over time, and have a more normal winter season in summit county,” said Vargo.

For full details on the move to level red, click here.

The follow is a list of available testing locations in Summit County: 

Frisco: Community Testing Site

  • When: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday-Friday
  • Where: 110 Third Ave., Frisco (intersection of Third & Granite), operated by Vail Health
  • Who: Symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals
  • How: Email with the info listed below. A representative will call you to schedule an appointment within one business day.
    •   Name
    •   Phone number
    •   Picture of photo ID (not necessary if you do not have photo ID)
    •   Front-and-back pictures of health insurance card (not necessary if you do not have insurance)
  • Insurance/payment: For those with health insurance, insurance will be billed, and any out-of-pocket fee additional costs will be waived. Anyone without health insurance must attest via an official attestation form to no insurance, and fees will be waived for the patient and covered by Vail Health.

Frisco: Centura Health Community Testing Site

  • When: Seven days a week: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
  • Where: Summit Vista Professional Building, 18 School Rd., Frisco.
  • Who: Testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals
  • How: Call 970-668-5584 to speak to staff from Centura Health to receive a testing referral to the community testing site.
  • Insurance/payment: Uninsured/underinsured persons will be covered at no out-of-pocket cost. Where applicable, insurance will be billed.

Frisco: Summit Community Care Clinic (SCCC)

  • When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday during normal hours of operation.
  • How: Call 970-668-4040 to schedule an appointment. SCCC provides testing (as decided by the health care provider) for patients desiring a face-to-face visit with a provider. Patients must establish care with SCCC, or already be an SCCC patient, in order to be seen.
  • Where: 360 Peak One Dr., Frisco, First Floor, Summit County Medical Office Building, Suite #100.
  • Insurance/payment: SCCC is accepting new patients regardless of insurance status. Uninsured/underinsured persons will be covered at no out-of-pocket cost. Where applicable, insurance will be billed.

Silverthorne: Mako Medical Community Testing Site (Available Nov. 6 – Dec. 30)

  • When: Seven days a week: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Where: In the overflow parking lot cross the street from the Silverthorne Recreation Center on Fourth Street, 464-478 E Fourth St., Silverthorne, CO 804898.
  • Who: Testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals
  • How: No appointment is necessary, however individuals will need to complete a registration form at the testing site or online ahead of time. Testing Information hereOnline registration here.
  • Insurance/payment: Testing is provided completely free of charge. Insurance is not needed.
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