Vail Mayor Dave Chapin recovering after a bout of the COVID-19 virus
Time at home has included plenty of reading, phone calls with friends and family
A lot of mountain town residents fight a low-level “crud” over parts of the winter. That’s what Dave Chapin had, until it got worse.
Chapin, Vail’s mayor and an owner of Vendetta’s restaurant in Vail Village, revealed March 20 that he’d been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. Chapin immediately self-quarantined at his home. Chapin’s wife is elsewhere, he said.
Chapin said he really started feeling the effects of the virus during the March 17 meeting of the Vail Town Council. That meeting was conducted via the Zoom app, with council members all signing in from their homes.
Even a fairly easy meeting day takes up most of an afternoon and at least part of an evening.
That meeting day was “a struggle,” Chapin said. By the end of the session, which ended a bit before 8 p.m., “I was physically shot,” he said. “I don’t think I could have gone much further than we did.” In fact, he added, it was hard to concentrate by the end of the meeting.
“That was around the height of this for me,” he said.
Chapin said he’d had severe body aches, fever and chills but never had a bad cough. He also had no appetite.
“I cracked a beer with a cousin, had one sip and poured it out,” Chapin said. “That’s never happened before.”
Still, he said, a relative, who’s a judge in another state, gave him some familial and lawyerly advice.
“He said ‘You need to get tested,’” Chapin recalled. The relative noted that Chapin is around a lot of people at the restaurant and is often the face of the town at public events and in TV appearances. More important, an employee at the restaurant had recently tested positive.
All of that — combined with some advice from his personal doctor —convinced Chapin to get tested.
Add an underlying health problem to the fears about the virus, and Chapin falls firmly into the high-risk category. That underlying condition hasn’t become worse.
Chapin had been mostly homebound before he tested. With a positive test, he said he hasn’t even left the house.
“I don’t want to see anyone who might come up to me,” he said.
Since he’s been homebound, Chapin said he’s been doing a lot of reading and reaching out to friends and relatives via the phone and online chats.
Chapin said he’s had any number of people reach out to see if he needed groceries or other essentials. Those messages are always greeted with thanks, but Chapin said he’s pretty well stocked up on food and medicine he was already taking.
“I’m fine — and I’m amazed at the outpouring (of concern),” he said. Still, he added, his own situation is far better than many others in Vail and the rest of the valley.
Chapin was quick to credit the work of people in the valley’s medical and emergency services sectors for their work.
“They’re the heroes here,” Chapin said. “They’re setting aside personal risk. … We couldn’t achieve what we’re going to without the efforts of those people. … I can’t find the words to describe the way I feel.”
Chapin added that he feels for all those who have been affected by the virus and the shutdown of much of the valley’s economy.
From impacts on the valley’s behavioral health system to high school seniors whose sports seasons have been impacted, and who may not get to have a commencement, Chapin said he wonders “how it’s going to affect people’s lives moving forward.”
But, he added, he’s sure the valley and its people will persevere.
“We’ll get through this,” he said. “And I’ve already seen the compassion that’s come out of this. … I know we’re going to be OK.”
Chapin is also optimistic about the days to come when people can go to restaurants and travel again.
Chapin also said he feels for those who have been laid off as the resorts and many businesses have temporarily shut down. Many of those people will be the key to the valley’s success when it reopens.
“There’s a certain pride in our community about serving our guests,” Chapin said. “I want those people to know they’re not forgotten. Their efforts in a recovery are going to be so important.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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VAIL — The lift operator in the maze at Vail Village’s Gondola One tilts his head back and hollers: “Masks up please!”