Monarch Mountain Ski Area remains open despite its inclusion on Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s list of outbreak sites across the state.
The inclusion on the list was made Jan. 14. Since that time several employees of the winter sports area have tested positive for the virus although Monarch’s general manager, Randy Stroud, issued a press release Thursday calling the inclusion “somewhat misleading.”
While the 14 employees of the ski area have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week, the press release stated, “most, if not all of these cases have not come from the Monarch Mountain campus.”
Stroud said all the cases in question have derived from places outside of work, the press release stated, half of them from a party at someone’s home and others contracted from a roommate who works somewhere other than Monarch.
“We have employed our own infectious disease consultants to work hand in hand with the Chaffee County Health Department in the contact tracing of each and every one of these cases to ensure that none of them enter onto our campus until they are fully cleared by the Health Department,” Stroud said.
“In short, we have been effective in preventing any outbreak at Monarch Mountain.
“These ‘community’ outbreaks are surely concerning, but I assure you that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our environment is protective of your and our staff’s health.
“We are proud of what we have collectively been able to accomplish thus far,” Stroud said.
Andrea Carlstrom, Chaffee County Public Health director and incident command for COVID-19 said, “Monarch Mountain and Chaffee County Public Health have been working closely for many months to ensure the safest 20-21 winter season possible.”
She said while the plans established and approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are working to prevent the spread of the virus on the mountain, several employees have contracted the virus from outside of the work environment.
“This was predicted,” she said.
Carlstrom said the source of spread to public health’s knowledge is not due to onsite operations at Monarch, but rather activities taking place off the mountain.
“At this time, Monarch Mountain is continuing its prevention measures while communicating with the staff the importance of strictly following the public health orders and measures outside of work,” Carlstrom said.
Stroud said the ski area has enjoyed the collaboration with the Chaffee County Public Health team and will continue evaluating how to better communicate the need for Monarch staff to protect themselves while away from work.
“We firmly believe that due to the efforts and protocols we have set in place that our campus is one of the best places in all of Chaffee County to enjoy the great outdoors,” he said.
Stroud said, “Stay safe and stay home if you feel ill in anyway. We do.”