Colorado ski towns take safety measures as omicron spreads
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) — Colorado resort communities are taking steps to control a surge in COVID-19 cases as seasonal visitors flock to the area for outdoor recreation.
Starting Thursday, people will have to wear masks in public indoor spaces in Summit County, home to several ski resorts. As of Wednesday, the county had nearly 3,743 new confirmed cases per 100,000 people, according to John Hopkins data analyzed by the Associated Press.
In a news release, the county’s public health department said the decision was made in response to an “alarming” increase in cases during the past week. Officials believe that’s due to the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant, likely at indoor holiday gatherings.
Summit county has among the highest incidence rates in the United States, as does the Aspen area in Pitkin County which saw around 3,506 new cases per 100,000 people as of Wednesday, according to AP data.
On Thursday, Pitkin County closed several municipal buildings to in-person services as the county experiences an influx of seasonal visitors and staffing issues due to the omicron variant spread, the Aspen Times reported.
Summit County leaders had been reluctant to re-impose a mask mandate partly because it would put service workers in the difficult position of enforcing it, the Summit Daily reported. However, they were also concerned about the number of workers who have had to quarantine and saw the move as a way to help businesses.
“To me, it’s just a really commonsense approach and something we need to take to help mitigate this, even if it’s minuscule in what it does,” county commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said. “It also provides a level of comfort for our locals.”
On Tuesday, Denver extended its latest mask mandate through Feb. 3.
The Pitkin County administration building on Main Street is closed, but the departments are available by phone or online, including the Clerk’s Office, Human Services, Public Health, Community Development and Assessor’s Office. The Sheriff’s Department’s main office is closed to walk-ins.