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Colorado Ski Towns Hardest Hit on First COVID-19 Case Anniversary

A screen capture from a Breckenridge Ski Resort promotional video from 2021.
A screen capture from a Breckenridge Ski Resort promotional video from 2021.
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One year ago today, on March 5, 2020, officials confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Colorado, involving a visitor to the state in Summit County, who'd skied at both Keystone and Vail before seeking medical attention at a hospital in Frisco.

In the twelve months since then, Colorado ski towns have continued to be heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus, and not just because of extended resort closures mandated by Governor Jared Polis. Counties that rely heavily on skiing tourism have experienced elevated case counts that pushed them well into Level Red on the state's dial dashboard, as well as a growing number of outbreaks.

Those outbreaks are still a concern. This week's outbreaks report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, updated on March 3, shows that Summit and three other ski-centric counties — Routt, Pitkin and Eagle — are among the hottest spots in the state on a per capita basis, during what's traditionally been an extremely busy period of the ski season.

According to the CDPHE, Summit County, which includes Keystone and Breckenridge ski areas, currently has 26 outbreaks under active investigation. Routt County, home to the Steamboat ski resort, hits an even higher mark — 36 outbreaks — while Pitkin County, known internationally for the assorted Aspen ski areas, stands at eighteen, and Eagle County, home to Vail, checks in with nine.

The totals in these counties aren't Colorado's highest: That dubious honor falls to El Paso County, with 93 currently active outbreaks, followed by Larimer County with 72. Denver County has 55 outbreaks right now, and surrounding counties are also in double digits: Jefferson with 49, Arapahoe with 44, Adams with 36 and Douglas with 22.

But as noted in our January post on Colorado places with the most COVID-19 outbreaks per capita, counties along the urban corridor are much more heavily populated than ski counties. According to data from 2019, the most recent available, the combined population of Summit (31,011), Routt (25,638), Pitkin (17,767) and Eagle (55,127) adds up to just under 130,000, yet they cumulatively have 89 active outbreaks. That's nearly as many as El Paso County, whose population (720,403) is more than five times larger, and considerably more than in the City and County of Denver, which boasts nearly as many residents (716,492).

With the exception of Pitkin, these ski counties are currently experiencing outbreaks directly associated with resorts: skiing schools, maintenance crews, employee housing and so on. But there are also multiple outbreaks at businesses that tourists commonly patronize — among them lodges, restaurants and even marijuana dispensaries.

Other counties have experienced outbreaks related to skiing, too — most prominently Grand County, where 162 infections have been tied to employees at Winter Park. But these are the four being hit the hardest a full year after public revelations about Colorado's Patient Zero.

Here are the outbreaks at this quartet of counties:

Summit County

Ski area-related outbreaks

1. Black Tie Ski Rentals of Breckenridge, 2/8/2021, 2 staff cases
2. Breckenridge Children's Ski School P8, 1/29/2021, 2 staff cases
3. Breckenridge Grooming and Trail Maintenance, 2/24/20221, 2 staff cases
4. Breckenridge Terrace Building G, Employee Housing, 2/10/2021, 3 resident cases
5. Breckenridge Terrace Building K, Employee Housing, 2/9/2021, 3 resident cases
6. Keystone Mountain House Adult Ski School, 1/31/2021, 2 staff cases
7. Keystone Tenderfoot 7000 Building, Employee Housing, 2/10/2021, 2 staff cases

Other outbreaks

1. Chipotle-Silverthorne, Restaurant, Fast Food, 2/19/2021, 2 staff cases
2. City Market #420, Grocery Store, 2/10/2021, 3 staff cases
3. Grand Timber Lodge Concierge Department — Peak 8 Properties, Hotel/Lodge/Resort, 2/8/2021, 3 staff cases
4. High Country Healing, Marijuana Dispensary, 2/12/2021, 2 staff cases
5. High Side Brewing, Bar/Tavern/Brewery, 1/31/2021, 4 staff cases
6. IBD Design Studio, Office/Indoor Workspace, 2/23/2021, 2 staff cases
7. Lake Dillon Preschool, Child Care Center, 1/26/2021, 2 staff cases, 2 attendee cases
8. Lincoln Elementary School, K-12 School, 12/8/2020, 2 staff cases, 20 attendee cases
9. Little Red School House: February 2021, Child Care Center, 3/1/2021, 3 staff cases
10. Mountain Thunder Lodge, Hotel/Lodge/Resort, 2/19/2021, 2 staff cases
11. Native Roots (Dillon), Marijuana Dispensary, 2/18/2021, 2 staff cases
12. Red Mountain Grill, Restaurant, Sit Down, 2/25/2021, 2 staff cases
13. Social Gathering — Summit: February 2021, 2/16/2021, 3 attendee cases
14. Social Gathering: Dillon, 2/19/2021, 3 attendee cases
15. Summit County Preschool, Child Care Center, 1/18/2021, 2 staff cases, 4 attendee cases
16. Summit High School: January 2021, K-12 School, 1/29/2021, 1 staff case, 10 attendee cases
17. United Parcel Service (UPS): February 2021, Distribution Center/Business, 2/27/2021, 5 staff cases
18. Upper Blue Elementary School: January 2021, K-12 School, 1/29/2021, 1 staff case, 1 attendee case
19. Walgreens #11326, Retailer, 2/21/2021, 2 staff cases

Routt County

Ski area-related outbreaks

1. Steamboat Ski Corp — Ski School, 12/15/2020, 5 staff cases
2. Steamboat Ski Corp Housing — The Ponds, Employee Housing, 12/10/2020, 7 resident cases
3. The Cabin — Steamboat Ski Corp., Restaurant, Sit Down, 2/7/2021, 7 staff cases
4. Timber and Torch — Steamboat Ski Corp., Restaurant, Sit Down, 2/7/2021, 3 staff cases

Other outbreaks

1. Aurum Food and Wine, Restaurant, Sit Down, 2/16/2021, 5 staff cases
2. Back Door Grill, Restaurant, Sit Down, 2/7/2021, 4 staff cases
3. Casey's Pond Senior Living (23Y775), Healthcare, Skilled Nursing, 11/24/2020, 15 resident cases, 6 staff cases
4. City Market #414, Grocery Store, 1/18/2021, 7 staff cases
5. Cloud 9 Integrated Systems, Office/Indoor Workspace, 12/21/2020, 2 staff cases
6. Gerber Berend Design Build, Construction Company/Contractor, 12/14/2020, 3 staff cases
7. Hayden High School: December 2020, K-12 School, 12/9/2020, 1 staff case, 2 attendee cases
8. Hayden High School: February 2021, K-12 School, 3/1/2021, 6 attendee cases
9. Heritage Title Company, Office/Indoor Workspace, 12/14/2021, 2 staff cases
10. King Creek Ranch, Workplace/Recreational Ranch, 12/21/2020, 4 staff cases
11. KP LLC/Binske Grow Operation, Retailer, 12/15/2020, 5 staff cases
12. Nordic Excavating, Construction Company/Contractor, 11/9/2020, 3 staff cases
13. Old Town Pub, Restaurant, Sit Down, 1/31/2021, 7 staff cases
14. One Steamboat Place, Hotel/Lodge/Resort, 2/7/2021, 2 staff cases
15. O'Neils Tavern & Grill, Bar/Tavern/Brewery, 2/2/2021, 6 staff cases, 4 attendee cases
16. Picking Construction Site — Personal Residence, 12/28/2020, 5 resident cases, 2 staff cases
17. Retreatia, Vacation Home Rental Company, 2/17/2021, 9 staff cases
18. Social Gathering — Routt: December 2020, 1/5/2021, 4 attendee cases
19. Social Gathering — Routt: December 2020 #2, 1/5/2021, 5 attendee cases
20. Social Gathering — Routt: January 2021, 1/14/2021, 7 attendee cases
21. SOROCO Preschool at Yampa, Child Care Center, 12/21/2020, 2 staff cases
22. Steamboat Christian Center, Religious Facility, 12/28/2020, 5 staff cases
23. Steamboat Springs High School: February 2021, K-12 School, 3/1/2021, 3 attendee cases
24. Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey — Bantam, Youth Sports/Activities, 2/9/2021, 3 attendee cases
25. Strawberry Park Elementary School, K-12 School, 1/24/2021, 5 staff cases, 6 attendee cases
26. Town of Oak Creek Public Works, Office/Indoor Workspace, 12/10/2020, 2 staff cases
27. Twenty Mile Coal/Peabody Energy, Coal Mine, 12/15/2020, 3 staff cases
28. Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Maintenance, Outdoor Entertainment/Rec, 12/21/2020, 2 staff cases
29. Vitamin Cottage Steamboat Springs, Grocery Store, 1/22/2021, 3 staff cases
30. Walgreens #15022, Outpatient Pharmacy, 12/10/2021, 3 staff cases
31. Walmart #1808, Retailer, 12/10/2020, 9 staff cases
32. Yampa Valley Electrical Association, Utility Company, 12/6/2020, 4 staff cases

Pitkin County

Ski-area related outbreaks

None

Other outbreaks

1. 287 S Starwood Rd Construction Site, 7/30/2020, 17 staff cases
2. Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District, Water Treatment Facility, 10/20/2020, 3 staff cases
3. Aspen Recreation Center, Indoor Entertainment/Rec, 10/29/2020, 2 staff cases, 1 attendee case
4. Colorado Excavation, LLC, Construction Site, 10/20/2020, 3 staff cases
5. Group Trip — Pitkin County, Private Flight, 10/29/2020, 7 attendee cases
6. Home Team Barbecue, Restaurant, Sit Down, 11/21/2020, 2 staff cases
7. Kemo Sabe, Hat Retailer, 9/29/2020, 4 staff cases
8. Old Snowmass Market, Restaurant, Sit Down, 10/14/2020, 2 staff cases
9. Pitkin County Public Works, Office/Indoor Workspace, 10/29/2020, 5 staff cases
10. Roaring Fork Club, Construction Site, 10/29/2020, 7 staff cases
11. Roxy's Market, Grocery Store, 10/29/2020, 4 staff cases
12. Snowmass Water & Sanitation District, Office/Indoor Workspace, 11/26/2020, 4 staff cases
13. Social Gathering — Pitkin: November 2020, 11/21/2020, 5 attendee cases
14. Social Gathering — Pitkin: November 2020 #2, 11/26/2020, 6 attendee cases
15. Social Gathering — Snowmass Village, 10/29/2020, 6 attendee cases
16. Social Gathering — Pitkin: October 2020, 10/20/2020, 8 attendee cases
17. St. Regis Aspen Resort, Hotel/Lodge/Resort, 11/26/2020, 5 staff cases
18. The Timbers Club, Hotel/Lodge/Resort, 1/29/2021, 5 staff cases

Eagle County

Ski area-related outbreaks

1. Beaver Creek Ski Rentals, Outdoor Entertainment/Rec, 11/15/2020, 3 staff cases
2. Vail Mountain Lift Operations, Outdoor Entertainment/Rec, 11/15/2020, 4 staff cases

Other outbreaks

1. Eagle Valley High School, K-12 School, 3/1/2021, 6 attendee cases
2. Gypsum Creek Middle School, K-12 School, 12/1/2020, 4 attendee cases
3. Red Hill Elementary School, K-12 School, 2/16/2021, 5 staff cases
4. Vail Christian High School, K-12 School, 2/16/2021, 4 attendee cases
5. Vail Health Active Healthcare, Acute Care Hospital, Housekeeping, 10/6/2020, 8 staff cases
6. Vail Valley Jet Center, Aircraft Rental, 3/1/2021, 2 staff cases
7. Vail Volleyball Club, Youth Sports/Activities, 3/1/2021, 5 attendee cases

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