COVID In Colorado: Spring Break Spike Means Summit County Could Move To Level Orange

Summit County is at risk of moving to level orange on the new COVID-19 dial. The rising number of cases in the county is to blame.

Video Transcript

- However, some counties are having to revert back to higher levels on the COVID dial because some people, so many, are getting sick with COVID. Pitkin County went back to level orange last week. And then later this week, Summit County is at risk of doing the same [? for us. ?] CBS 4's Jamie Leary covering this story for us up in the high country tonight. And Jamie, part of the increase, of course, could be due to the fact that so many people were there for spring break.

JAMIE LEARY: That really could be it, Karen. And right now the one-week positivity rate here on average is just below 10%. And it needs to stay there in order to avoid a move to Level Orange. If we do step backwards, once again, restaurants, and businesses will be hit hardest. And like over in Pitkin County, officials here are hoping that it's just a blip and that cases will start to go down once those spring break crowds diminish and more people get vaccinated.

- Look, you invite a bunch of people into your town for spring break, you have to expect some of this.

JAMIE LEARY: It's an issue Colorado mountain communities have been dealing with since the pandemic started.

- And a lot of people are coming from places that have not been as cautious as we have been. And that's a bummer.

- In Level Yellow, Eric Mamuela has finally been able to fit more guests in his restaurant.

- For my place, that's taken us from 50 people to 75 or 80 people. So it's a huge difference.

JAMIE LEARY: Now, teetering on the edge of Level Orange--

ELISABETH LAWARENCE: The next few days are critical to see what's going to happen. We're closely watching our numbers.

JAMIE LEARY: Spring break crowds combined with the new variants are part of the issue.

ELISABETH LAWARENCE: We believe that possibly as much as 50% of our new cases are tied to variants. And so, certainly, that is attributed to the high tourism in our community.

JAMIE LEARY: The other part, crucial spring-break workforce.

ELISABETH LAWARENCE: They're oftentimes in a really difficult situation of, do I go to work sick during this critical spring break time, or do I stay home to protect their community?

- Because I think the county has done an unbelievably fantastic job of getting the vaccine out. The fact that we're going to have to potentially roll back after that kind of output of energy to get shots in people's arms is really a slap in the face.

JAMIE LEARY: But the good news is at least 50% of all Summit County residents have received their first dose of vaccinations. And, of course, even more good news, with vaccinations opening to the general public on Friday-- but while you wait, officials say, testing is still critical. So make sure to take advantage of that when you can. Live the high country, Jamie Leary, CBS 4 Mountain Newsroom.