At its last meeting on July 1, the Summit County Council heard from a critic who said the focus of their COVID-19 strategy is wrong.
The county’s order requiring masks in public places went into effect on June 27.
Before the Council voted on July 1 to modify portions of the order, they heard from Todd Follmer, a 14-year resident of Park City who said the county has taken the wrong approach.
“I don’t believe your focus is backed by science,” he said. “I believe your focus should be on people that have co-morbidities that are at risk. And you are subjecting the entire population, irrespective of the infection fatality rate, which is minuscule for children, for people under the age of 70.”
Follmer said he doesn’t object to wearing a mask. But in some businesses, such as gyms, patrons can’t wear a mask during strenuous exercise. He said access to those operations is important for residents to maintain their mental health at a time like this.
He told the councilors that they need to think outside of the box.
“The track that you’re on is going to mean there’s going to be no winter tourist season in Park City,” he said. “There’s nothing that you’re doing now, and your micro-management—the original order was like pencils on golf carts—your thoughts about micro-managing are not helpful. I don’t believe they’re moving the dial at all.”
Follmer also said that education facilities have to reopen.
“I believe the kids should be back in school now,” he said. “I think that the teaching community, people that are vulnerable to the disease, should not be in the classroom. But that does not mean kids should not be in school. So I just think that your focus is very badly misplaced, that it is going to destroy this community. It’s destroying the mental health of this community right now. You’re scaring people that don’t need to be scared, that aren’t going to die if they get this disease.”
In response, Council Chairman Doug Clyde said that the scientific data clearly backs up what the county has done. And he said that sectors of the local tourist economy support the county’s efforts to show that the Park City area will be relatively safe this winter.
“What we’ve heard from the majority of them is that whatever you do, don’t screw up the winter,” Clyde said. “And so we are attempting right now to make sure that the county is in the best of all possible places to be able to demonstrate to our traveling public that we will be a reasonably safe place to be. No place is safe, like in the context of what we used to think “safe” meant. But we need to be able to explain to people that we are a reasonably safe place to recreate.”
And Health Director Rich Bullough said the county needed to take a community-wide approach. He said children can still be carriers of the virus who spread it to other family members.
“I’m incredibly uncomfortable with the notion that we’re willing to sacrifice older adults and individuals with co-morbid conditions because others of us don’t want to take the responsibility of caring for each other, and ensuring that we don’t transmit the disease to others,” Bullough said. “That entire concept is foreign to me, to be honest with you.”