DILLON — Summit County officials and community leaders took to YouTube to address public concerns after the county on Monday ordered widespread business closures to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
In the video, Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence outlined closures ordered by the county, including indefinite suspensions to transportation services, dine-in restaurants, retail stores and more.
Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland provided an update on the county’s known COVID-19 cases. The county still has two positive cases. The first is in isolation in Denver, and the second is in isolation in Frisco. There are four others in isolation due to coming in contact with the second individual while symptomatic.
Wineland said the county has conducted 47 tests, which returned 11 negative and two positive results. There are still 34 pending tests pending. Of those cases, 29 are self-isolating and five have been hospitalized. Wineland also took the opportunity to reinforce the importance of social distancing.
“If we take these steps now, and everyone plays their part by following this guidance, we can slow down the spread,” Wineland said. “Social distancing is currently the most important factor we have to control the COVID-19 outbreak, and therefore it is critical.”
While businesses are closing down, county officials emphasized that emergency services still will be fully operational.
Summit County’s Director of Emergency Management Brian Bovaird said the fire districts, law enforcement agencies and emergency medical services all will be responding to calls. The county’s 911-dispatch center also is fully operational.
“All of the men and women I’m surrounded by, we’ve spent our entire careers honing our ability to function and even thrive during times of crisis,” Bovaird said. “That’s what we’re doing. … While it is a time of uncertainty and fear, it’s important to get that message across that we are in a good place as a county to deal with this.”
Bovaird emphasized that there were no planned closures to interstates or roadways. He also said that state and federal “emergency assistance programs” would be available to economically support community members in the near future, but said it’s unclear how they’ll be rolled out.
“The nature of any crisis response like we’re seeing now is that these programs are made available, and in the coming days and weeks we are given the guidance to sort out all the details in how to get aid to the people that need it,” Bovaird said. “… It is absolutely our utmost priority to get that information out, and even more important those services out, as soon as we possibly can.”
In the meantime, the county has set up local resources to help residents. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, the county’s human services department will be manning a pair of hotline numbers that people can call for assistance with food pickup and delivery, medication pickup and delivery, referrals for behavioral health services and more, according to Assistant County Manager Sarah Vaine. The hotline can be reached at 970-668-2940 or at 970-668-2942.
Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons spoke on behalf of Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown and Chief Judge Mark Thompson.
According to FitzSimons, the District Attorney’s Office will remain operational. Individuals who need to contact the office should call at 970-453-3520 or visit the website at DA5.us. The office is also taking walk-in, urgent appointments.
The Summit County Combined Courts will remain open to provide essential public safety services, including hearings for civil protection orders, child welfare and family emergencies, advisements and bond hearings for people in custody and other matters at the discretion of the judges. The clerk’s windows at the courthouse also will remain open during regular business hours.
With the exception of matters of public safety, all court matters scheduled through April 3 are canceled and will be rescheduled April 6 or after, according to FitzSimons. Individuals with a jury summons or scheduled hearing should contact the courthouse and will be given a new court date.
FitzSimons continued to say that the Summit County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have the capacity to seek out violations of the county’s public health order but would follow up with any community complaints. He requested compliance.
Bob Kato, a restaurateur from Frisco, also addressed the community, noting that he’d spoken with a number of other restaurant owners around the county and emphasized that he and others were supportive of the closures.
“I have been in contact with a lot of restaurateurs here, and we all want to do what we can,” Kato said. “… I would recommend this to my fellow restaurateurs: One of the things we can help with is that by closing, we all have disposable food, food that is going to get spoiled — do something with it. Let your employees take home what they can. If not, donate it to food banks. There are going to be shortages of food, and people are really going to need these kinds of contributions.”
Finally, Lawrence asked everyone to keep others in mind as the community works to fight the new coronavirus.
“We are currently working alongside our nonprofit partners, along with our human services department in how we support our residents through this,” Lawrence said. “We are committed to keeping Summit County the absolute best place to live, work and play.
“We ask for your cooperation. Love your neighbors, show compassion, show kindness and please do your part during this unprecedented time in our country, state and nation.”