The day coronavirus shuttered Colorado’s ski industry; an inside look
On the morning of March 14, Gov. Jared Polis studied data on coronavirus infection rates in Colorado’s ski towns, which were 20 to 30 times higher than the rates on the Front Range.
It was Saturday and the busiest day of the season for ski areas — the day when Colorado’s $5 billion resort industry welcomed the largest wave of big-spending, spring-breaking vacationers, pouring in largely from New York, Florida and Texas.
Polis had concerns that social distancing strategies deployed by the crowded resorts weren’t adequate. Cleaning gondolas and limiting ridership to just families wasn’t enough. Limiting access to mountain facilities wasn’t going to stop the spread of COVID-19.
He wanted to shut down the ski areas. Immediately.
“There were many, many mountain communities that said, ‘This is our livelihood. This is our business. We need the tourists.’ But I’m making the decisions based on the science and the data. Eagle County has one of the highest infection rates in the country,” he said in a recent interview. “If we had not acted early … not only would those numbers in those mountain communities be higher, but more people would have brought the virus back to the Denver metro area.”
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