Winter Park Resort reports COVID-19 outbreak among employees

Lines were long Saturday at Steamboat’s Thunderhead lift thanks to a storm cycle that dropped more than two feet of snow there following weeks of dismal Colorado snowfall. (Provided by Nick Green)

Following a snowy ski weekend that saw remarkably long lift lines at Colorado resorts and made some on social media wonder about the risks of COVID-19 transmission, Winter Park resort is reporting an outbreak among resort employees.

The resort released a joint statement with Grand County Public Health Monday night, saying they were reporting the outbreak to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“This declaration allows more state resources to be pulled in to aid with suppressing COVID activity in the (Winter Park) employee group,” the statement said, adding that the resort, Grand County health officials and CDPHE “will continue to monitor the outbreak until two incubation periods (28 days) have passed with no new outbreak-related COVID-19 positive cases.”

RELATED: Lots of snow led to lift lines that were “the worst I’ve ever seen,” with more on the way

The statement, which did not reveal how many employees tested positive, said the cases have not been traced to interaction with visitors but were connected to “social gatherings outside of the workplace and congregate housing.”

Winter Park and CDPHE are “proactively enacting protocols that allow more state resources to be used in aid of suppressing COVID-19 activity in the (Winter Park) employee group, including increased testing,” the statement said.

Winter Park isn’t unique. According to CDPHE data, there are 11 active outbreaks now at seven ski areas, plus nine previous outbreaks now considered closed, for a total of 20. Breckenridge has had the most with eight.

The announcement came in the wake of the best snow conditions of the year last weekend in a season that has been mostly dismal for snowfall, along with massive lift lines and social media posts that caught the eye of state officials.

“The need for extra spacing in lift lines and the influx of skiers avoiding dangerous conditions in the backcountry has created unique challenges, and many Colorado ski areas have already made great strides to address them,” said Conor Cahill, press secretary to Gov. Jared Polis, in a statement first reported by FOX31 News. “But more work needs to be done to address the challenges some faced from this past weekend. The state will continue to work with industry partners and ski communities in the high country so that Colorado can have a strong and safe season.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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