Yesterday, Basin Rec reopened Run-A-Muck Dog Park. We were excited to get back. Yet after experiencing it, I’m not sure the risk-reward is worth it.
For those who haven’t visited Run-A-Muck, it is a fenced dog-park that sits below the Utah Olympic Park (UOP). It covers many acres and legally permits dogs to run off-leash.
When I arrived this morning at the main parking lot, a sign stated that there was only one entrance to the park and one exit to the park. We’d have to walk the park in a clockwise fashion and exit the park through a tunnel about a quarter-mile from the entrance. Then we would cross the road to the UOP to get back to our car.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you put it into practice. Navigating a dog on-leash and two little children across a road, with no markings, that construction vehicles frequent, and has a speed limit of 40 MPH is dangerous.
I have no problem with a one-way path around the park, although I’m not sure of its effectiveness in practice. People will be passing each other all the time. However, it’s not a big deal and may help at times.
It’s also nice to see how the park’s vegetation has grown back, with the two-month reprieve from humans and animals. It’s still one of the best places in Summit County.
Yet, crossing that road is going to be a big deal. It’s likely the park will maintain this practice at least through the summer. If so, it’s likely someone is going to get seriously hurt. To at least mitigate the issue a bit, Summit County needs to put a crosswalk between the two parking lots and put pedestrian crossing signs up.
I’m glad Run-A-Muck was able to reopen, but this part of the reopening plan isn’t particularly well thought out. Summit County needs to take a look at this and make some changes. Otherwise, right now, Run-A-Muck may be more dangerous than the coronavirus.
The longer you stick around Park City, the more you realize that we are really ruled by two things, the Utah legislature and the Governor. With all due respect to our city and county councils, most material decisions come back to whether our “benevolent” rulers in Salt Lake City will squash us like a bug.
It’s been no different with the Corona Virus. Take Park City schools, for example. It was obvious in late March that Park City schools would be closed for the year. We even wrote an article about that saying we need to plan now, so teachers have time to get ready. We got push back from the school district saying “it’s not that easy.” Then the governor spoke on April 14th and closed schools for the year. Suddenly, it was that easy — at least for the Governor.
This brings us to present-day where Governor Herbert is “opening up” the state. His plan involves moving from the current Orange Phase (moderate risk) to the Yellow Phase (low risk). Summit County, along with four other counties aren’t permitted to move to Yellow — yet. However, it is expected that next week, the Governor is going to grace our county with the ability to move to the low-risk phase.
Here is what that means, courtesy of the Utah Health Department and Salt Lake Tribune.
What I read from this is that we will be back to business as usual. Restaurants will be open. The shops will be open. You can play sports again. Best of yet, don’t bother wearing a mask unless you are not capable of staying six feet away from someone. Who can’t do that?
Yet, I struggle with the logic of this for Summit County. On the one hand, this could be good for our economy. If people return to their old ways of consumption, our economy will bounce back for the Summer. Yet, if people go back to their old ways of consumption, the number of infected will rise. If that rise is too much and coincides with Winter, we are toast.
Imagine what happens if our Covid numbers start to rise in November. We closed our economy with less than 200 people affected per day in Utah. It’s logical to assume that if we consistently rise up to that level again, we’ll close it down again (If not, then why did we do it in the first place?). As we open up, with few real-world restrictions, people are going to come back. With them will come the disease. As people congregate, the disease will spread.
I fear that we are trading short term gains for long-term pains. Yes, it will likely help local businesses in the near-term to be open now. However, if anything we are doing now leads to Winter being canceled, we will have committed a grave mistake. If Vail, Alterra, and Sundance do not generate revenue this season our local governments will be the ones standing in the bread line, alongside us.
I think the Governor is making a huge gamble by going game-on so quickly. Frankly, we need to keep the fear of God in people through November. People don’t get nuance.
I think that’s the only way we stand a chance of making it to the Winter without a spike in cases. It’s the only thing that will keep the whole thing from being shut down.
If you want to see what that’s like, I would schedule a trip to The Park City Musem (once it’s open) and pay attention to what happened to Park city in the 1950s. It wasn’t pretty.
It’s been a weird couple of months. But I have to ask the question…
Do you want to get back to what Park City was before?
Traffic. People. Crowds. Anger.
I know that many people made a business off of what it was.
However, the question I have is whether we collectively want to go back if we could.
Do you want 10,000+ people from SLC coming up for July 4th? Do you want the Silly Market if it crowds our town? Do you want both winters and summers packed wall to wall?
Yes, I understand that the concept of “the Park City Lifestyle” is thanks to others.
Yet, as a local, I am not sure I want to go back to it. There are plusses and minuses but we don’t have to go back. It’s our choice. It’s our future.
It may be time for Park City’s next phase.
And like a light-switch, it turned back on. It’s as if people had forgotten why they spent the last six weeks in quarantine.
It’s crazy out there today.
Parking lots crowded. No social distancing.
Trailheads packed. No social distancing.
Herds of teenagers walking together three inches apart. No social distancing.
Soccer practices going on. I’d like to say ‘no social distancing’, but seriously… WTF?
The nuance appears to be lost on many people. So, let’s write down a date three to four weeks from now. Let’s go with May 24th to June 1. If we see a spike in Covid-19 cases at that point, we can conclude that our leaders screwed-up. Yeah, there are financial pressures, but we’re playing the long game here.
That said, perhaps case numbers won’t accelerate at that point. If so, maybe social distancing isn’t so important anymore, and we can go back to licking the handrails at Redstone 8.
If I had to bet, I’d bet on the former. Just like the Powder Buoy in the winter, seeing what happened today tells me a storm is coming in a few weeks.
Ding-dong the Witch is dead.
Which old Witch?
The Covid Witch
Let’s open up and ring the bells out
Let them know the Covid witch is dead!
How exciting. First, the Governor told me everything was OK and I didn’t need to worry about that pesky corona virus, and now the Summit County Council has voted unanimously to tell me that I need to get out and congregate, shop, and spend money again.
I was really feeling bad for Summit County. They were in the hole for like $10 million dollars. Was that round-about at Jeremy Ranch actually going to get finished this decade? Now my prayers have been answered. With Summit County’s new order, it frees up people from Utah County to come to Park City and tourists from around the world to bring their money and everything else into our fair corner of the world.
Better yet, Thursday the county released a 56-page health order telling local businesses on how to act when they open up less than 18 hours later. I mean, usually, I would recommend some sort of forethought and planning, but I know we need the money. So, bring ’em in.
Just to be clear, I have watched a lot of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey and the number one criticism by Gordon is that a restaurant shouldn’t stack the raw bacon on top of the lettuce (who knew?). I totally get that given the health order that every restaurant in town will be able to guarantee the following:
- Cleaning supplies must be single use (paper towels, disposable mop heads, etc.) or laundered between every use (dishtowels, mop heads, etc.).
- Hand sanitizer will be available immediately outside of bathrooms.
- Restaurants, Food Service, Food Trucks, Coffee Shops, Bars, C-stores, and Taverns, including lobbies and waiting areas, must close for cleaning in the morning, between shifts (or every four (4) hours), and evening. Cleaning and disinfecting includes all high-traffic areas, tables, chairs, door handles, phones, floors, restrooms, and any high-touch surfaces.
- Staff who handle cash payments will not be involved in the preparation, handling, or delivery of food.
- Staff must clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. More specifically, staff must ensure that surfaces, table tops, and areas that are used and touched often are cleaned and sanitized between use by members, guest, patrons and customers.
- Employee Screening will include taking the temperatures of all employees.
- Limit tables to groups of six (6) (unless members of the same household). Adjacent booths can be occupied if there is a minimum 5-foot (measured from the seat) effective barrier between booths. If a 5-foot barrier is absent, booths may be occupied if every other booth is skipped.
- Small private events of twenty (20) people or less with reservations can only be accommodated by establishing a minimum 10-foot distance (or physical barrier) between the group and general public.
- Maintain at least six (6) feet between seated customer groups, whether indoors or outdoors. Either move tables or mark off tables not to be used.
- In waiting areas, a 6-foot distance must be maintained between parties or household groups, whether indoor or outdoor. Waiting areas will have floor markers to indicate proper spacing. Where 6-foot distance cannot be maintained, indoor group waiting areas are prohibited. Weather permitting, food establishments may use outdoor waiting areas with signs and other reminders for groups to maintain 6-foot social distancing. Consider using call-ahead or reservation systems to minimize wait times and stagger arrivals.
- Upon entry, hosts point customers to signage that includes the following information: Remind individuals from separate parties to stand at least six (6) feet apart.
- When possible, hosts should open doors for customers to help prevent congregating of customers at the entrance, show required signage, and explain operating practices.
- Employees who interact with customers or ready- to-eat foods must wear nonsurgical masks or face coverings at all times and perform hand hygiene between interactions with each table.
- Do not place utensils on table until customer is seated.
- Staff will avoid touching items that have been placed on the table (menus, plates, utensils, pens, cups, etc.).
- All customer tables and chairs must be disinfected between each customer or group. A dedicated staff member (not a server or other food handler) must clear and disinfect tables. Do not place tableware until customers are seated. Disposable single-use menus are strongly encouraged. If used, permanent menus must be disinfected after each use.oClose restaurant for cleaning and disinfecting in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Cleaning and disinfecting includes all tables, chairs, door handles, floors, bathrooms, and any high-touch surfaces.
- Staff must use gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods (including ice). Gloves are not required when handling foods that have yet to be cooked.
- Playgrounds inside or outside of restaurants will remain closed.
- Buffet and self-serve restaurants will provide utensils, cups, plates and other service items only from the counter where food is ordered. None of these items will be accessible to the public. Buffet style restaurants will provide servers who will serve the meals from buffet to limit exposure. Customers will not be allowed within six (6) feet of the food serving area. Floor must be marked or barriers provided.
- All shared outside dining areas will remain closed.
- Customers at a restaurant bar must not be seated within six ( 6) feet of other customers, nor any taps, food, clean glasses, or the bartender work area (“the well”). Seats and stools in this area must be removed or unoccupied at all times if this 6-foot requirement cannot be met.
- Condiments must not be kept on tables, but rather given to guests upon request. Condiment containers must be disinfected after each use. Self-serve condiment stations must be monitored and disinfected at least every thirty (30) minutes.
- Self-serve drink stations must be monitored and sanitized at least every thirty (30) minutes, especially surfaces where customers touch. Cups, lids, and straws must be given to customers by food employees. Individuals may not bring their own reusable items (mugs, cups). Single-use items (including to-go boxes, pizza boxes, paper cups, and any other paper product that touches food) should be treated like ready-to-eat food and therefore should not be handled with bare hands by employees.
- Disinfectants/sanitizers effective against SARS-CoV-2 virus must be available. Chlorine bleach at 100-200ppm is recommended. Use disposable cleaning supplies if possible (towels, mop heads, etc.). Other supplies must be laundered for use each day.
- Employees in kitchen areas should practice social distancing whenever possible. Workstations should be arranged so that employees do not face one another. Non-surgical masks or face coverings are encouraged and training provided on the how to appropriately wear them. Whenever possible, staff should be separated into cohorts to minimize interaction between groups. All existing food regulations still apply.
- Hand sanitizer must be available at all customer entrances and outside of public restrooms. Hand sanitizer must not replace hand washing by food handlers.oRestaurants will not operate if PPE, EPA- approved disinfectants and sanitizer, soaps, and other necessary cleaning supplies are not available.
Even if your favorite restaurant doesn’t understand the nuance of stacking raw pork on lettuce, the restaurant who is preparing your food is definitely going to incorporate those 34 tenants into their business practices by tomorrow. Dine-assured. Hell, they’ve had 18 hours.
Don’t worry though. There is strict enforcement coming tomorrow. According to the county, “The County Sheriff and Chiefs of Police within the County are directed to ensure compliance with and enforce this Order. Notwithstanding such, the purpose of this Order is to protect individuals’ health and not to hold them criminally liable. Discretion will be used in the citing and prosecution of violations of this Order.” Nothing gives me more faith in the law than when we have some good “Discretions” and “notwithstandings” in the order.
Restaurants are one thing, but what I’m really looking forward to is all the people from the Salt Lake Valley coming up to use our trails. While our Corona-counts started out big, we are having many fewer cases here. We can change that! I welcome all the people from Utah county who have not been practicing social distancing into our community. There’s nothing like a unanimous vote from your county’s leaders to say, “We welcome you and your money, even if you have Ebola.”
All that said, what I am looking forward to even more than Ebola is the Park City Fourth of July Parade. Where else can I get sweat on by strangers who are standing less than 1/2 inch away from me? Even better, most of those people are from Utah county!!! MMMM. Money.
Given the likely increases in Covid-19 (or is it 20 by now?) from these actions, my kids won’t be able to go to school next fall. What a blessing. I’ll be able to part-time teach them at home far better than any professional who went to 4-8 years of college and/or grad school, and who has taught for 10 years, ever could.
Finally, I am thankful for Sundance, or the lack-there-of. It’s a great idea to open our county up in the shoulder season. That way, this summer we can bring in all sorts of infections. Then right about November, the Sundance Institute can conclude that it’s too dangerous to hold a film festival in Park City in January. Just think about how little traffic we will have and how empty the wine store will be!
Good times indeed! I’m am just so excited to see how this all works out and how much money we can make! What could possibly go wrong?
PSA: All the above joking aside, nothing has changed with the corona virus because five members of the Summit County Council had a vote. There is no cure. There is no vaccine. You’ve heard about “flattening the curve.” That is just an attempt to make sure we have enough hospital beds and ventilators available for those that get sick. It has little to do with your chance of getting the disease — or its impacts.
I believe announcing that we are opening the county is a mistake. I do understand that the pandemic has negatively impacted friends and local businesses. It sucks. How do they survive without customers? My fear is that opening too soon is the death knell. If Christmas and then Sundance is canceled, it will be far worse. My fear is that our actions today will contribute to that outcome, negatively.
Here’s hoping we get lucky.
I was perusing Park Record’s online version. They are now providing a daily update about Covid-19 cases. In the comments, someone needed clarification about hospitalization numbers.
The Editor of the Park Record, Bubba Brown, responded and provided clarity.
It’s what the Park Record should be doing. Having hung around city and county politics for a while, I’ll often see Park Record reporters at most meetings, trying to discern the most important parts of the meeting. If they are paying attention, they will be able to provide superb context for discussions.
I’d love to see more of the Park Record’s journalists on their site answering questions. It definitely builds community.
One of Billy Joel’s best albums is Turnstiles. On that album, there is a track called Summer Highland Falls. One of these days I will analyze it line by line in relation to PC. However, trust me. It speaks to Park City in these times.
They say that these are not the best of times
But they’re the only times I’ve ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover’s eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It’s either sadness or euphoria
So we’ll argue and we’ll compromise
And realize that nothing’s ever changed
For all our mutual experience
Our separate conclusions are the same
Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity
Our reason coexists with our insanity
But we choose between reality and madness
It’s either sadness or euphoria
How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies
Perhaps we don’t fulfill each other’s fantasies
And as we stand upon the ledges of our lives
With our respective similarities
It’s either sadness or euphoria
Stay strong. We can make it through this.
UDOT posted its top-10 road projects for the year and you are not included. I suppose that’s a bit presumptuous. Better stated, if you are in Summit County and reading this then you are not included. Sorry.
if you are waiting for UDOT to fix traffic in Summit County, you can keep waiting. The only thing that seems to fix traffic is a pandemic, which doesn’t seem to be the right solution.
If you are interested to see who is getting love, check it out here.
Statistics on the coronavirus show that the elderly are the most likely to die from the virus. However, that doesn’t mean that younger people don’t get the virus and become sick or pass it on to those that might.
Each day the state of Utah provides updated stats on the impacts. Two of the most interesting are the demographics table and the chart of number of cases versus those tested.
The demographics table below shows that the 25-44 year-old Utahns have the highest percentage of known-infections in the state. That’s followed by 45-64 year-olds. It also shows the rate per 100,000 people in Utah. That allows us to account for the percentage of people by age group. In that case, 45-64 are the most afflicted age group.
The other chart I find interesting is the number of people testing positive and negative each day for coronavirus. For instance today I read that the state of Utah only had 75 people test positive for the virus (compared to the mid 100’s days before). Hooray. Then I looked at the number of people tested. Why is it down so much? Do fewer people get tests on Sunday? Did people leave for Spring Break (even though they are not supposed to)? Are fewer people feeling bad, so they don’t get tested? What I hope to see someday is a huge umber of people tested and a very few number of people testing positive.
If you enjoy this data, it is available at coronavirus.utah.gov. It is updated at around 1 PM each day.