Steamboat Springs will not order mass amounts of rapid COVID tests |

Steamboat Springs will not order mass amounts of rapid COVID tests

After weighing the issue in January while COVID-19 was spiking in Routt County, Steamboat Springs City Council members decided against ordering thousands of rapid COVID-19 tests.

At its Jan. 12 meeting, the council decided not to implement a mask mandate, but it directed City Manager Gary Suiter to talk with community leaders from Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., Main Street Steamboat and the Steamboat Springs Chamber about the needs of local businesses and their employees. Rather than forcing low-wage employees to enforce mask rules, council members felt a supply of free rapid tests could better serve the community.

Suiter told council members Tuesday that leaders from the three organizations were only lukewarm about receiving the tests.

Chamber Executive Director Kara Stoller told Suiter that tests would be helpful, though not “unbelievably” so.

Lisa Popovich, Main Street Steamboat executive director, said businesses are plagued with low staffing due to housing costs and factors unrelated to active COVID-19 cases, so she said tests may not make much of a difference, Suiter wrote in a report to council.

While businesses do not want to go back to policing mask rules, Popovich told Suiter that many businesses are encouraging mask-wearing and providing hand sanitizer, which they believe suffices, Suiter added.

Trish Sullivan, risk management and human resources director for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., told Suiter that the resort has plenty of its own rapid tests for employees who need them. The resort also requires masks in indoor spaces. While vaccines are not required, unvaccinated employees must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

Because the business communities were not enthusiastic about the city providing a mass amount of rapid tests, Suiter told council he did not see a need to spend the time and money ordering tests.

“It appears that we are past the peak of the omicron variant,” Suiter said during the Tuesday meeting. “I also believe there are plenty of free resources, and if someone wants to get help, I think help is out there and available.”

As of Tuesday, Routt County reported 350 new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, a decline from its spike around late December and early January.

People with COVID symptoms may get a free test at Strings Music Pavilion Parking Lot from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. The county also holds vaccination clinics from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In addition, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue said it is distributing KN-95 masks to the community for free at Steamboat Springs City Hall and the Mountain Fire Station.

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