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Should Park City school quarantines be shortened?

Today I received an email from the Park City School District asking whether quarantines should be shortened. Currently, if your kid (or a teacher) is in close proximity to a person who has tested positive for Covid-19, then they can’t return to school for 14 days. According to the school district, there are about 200 students at PCHS who are in quarantine.

According to the email from the district, “The Summit County Health Department (SCHD) has stated, at this time, it is appropriate for school districts in Summit County to consider moving to a shortened quarantine if COVID-19 cases are not prevalent or increasing in the district.” So, likely due to pressure from parents, the district is asking whether the public wants the quarantine shortened.

To me, this question seems political in nature. If Rich Bullough at the Sumit County Health Department says its Ok, then do it. If not, then don’t. Trust the science. Put it on the Summit County Health Department to stake their reputation on it. Don’t send a survey.

But, since the school district seems to want to go down the Survey Monkey route, I’ll go there. Let’s think about whether we should allow students to return to school, after seven days, if they take a Covid-19 test, and it is negative.

I get it. Imagine your kid’s been in contact with someone who tested positive for the CoronaVirus, your child shows no symptoms, and she has to stay home. It has to be frustrating.

The district is proposing that if after 7 days, your quarantined-kid tests negative for the virus, then they can come back to school. At face value, it makes sense to me. They tested negative, so why not let them back in. Trust me, I would be preaching from that hymnal if/when my kid comes down with this. However, there are three problems, no matter how much I want to want this.

  1. The CDC still says that it can take up to 14 days for the virus to be detectable. I tried to find research that says if someone was infected, you were in close proximity to them, and then you tested negative after 7 days, everything was fine. I couldn’t. If you, the intrepid Park Rag reader, can point me to a study saying 7 days is cool, then that may make me think this is an OK idea.
  2. Summit County still requires a quarantine of 14 days across the board. I have not seen a rule change on this. Therefore, if you work in a restaurant, and are in the same predicament, why should a kid be able to go to school and you can’t go to work. It doesn’t make sense. It needs to be aligned. It needs to be concrete. If a student can go back after seven days, everyone can go back after seven days (with the appropriate test).
  3. I, as a middle-class Parkite, whose wife works in the medical industry, will be able to get this “7-day” test through insurance or we’ll be able to afford it. Can everyone? If someone is not as fortunate as me, is the health department (or school district) guaranteeing a free test for re-admittance to school? If not, is it fair that kids with more money can go back to school and the less fortunate can’t? No, it is not. It has to be equitable.

Fourteen days is a long time off of school. That not only hurts the student but also his or her family that may have to take off work to take care of them. So, an approach that shortens that time makes sense. However, that approach needs to be universal to everyone in our community (not just students). It needs to be backed by scientific research saying that a test after seven days guarantees the student doesn’t have the virus. It also needs to be available for free to all students and all individuals who work in our community.

Perhaps, all of those things are in place and the research backs this up. Great. Let’s go for it.

If not, this idea is a non-starter.

If you want to participate, here is a link to the survey. If you received the survey via email, keep in mind that the link they sent you has an email tracker in it. So, while I’m not certain of it, it is likely someone at the district would know how you voted. So, be careful out there. The link above has that removed and therefore, the vote won’t be associated with your email address.

Park City School District Covid-19 numbers are no longer available from the district

Update: It looks like as of 10:50 AM the numbers are back online.

We heard from the Superintendent’s office that they were editing the spreadsheet for a couple of hours and that can take it offline.

Thanks, PCSD for getting this back up and running. Many people in our community find this information extremely useful.

A number of people seem to be coming to the Park Rag for our easy to access PCSD Covid numbers. Unfortunately this morning the Google Docs Spreadsheet that we link to is no longer accessible.

We’ve reached out to the district to understand whether this is intentional or whether they may be updating their systems. It could be because the state is now reporting them. That would be unfortunate because the state’s numbers are incorrect. The state reports less than 5 active cases and we know from yesterday’s number (13 total on PCSD website versus <5 on the state’s).

We’ll update when/if we hear back from the Superintendent’s office.

Vail season pass sales volume is up 18%. What time will I have to get to the PCMR lot by?

Today, Vail announced its quarterly earnings. They did worse than expected. So, if you own the stock, you aren’t happy right now.

However, if you are a Parkite with an Epic pass, you may be even unhappier. Season pass sales, by the number of passes, was UP 18% over last year through September 18th. By straight dollars, sales were down 4%. However, if you account for the credits from last year, sales were up 24%.

So, 18% more passes were sold. Maybe those purchases were by people in Colorado. Maybe Vail’s slope in Kansas City has become a hot commodity. They don’t announce sales by region, so we don’t know the regions driving the sales. However, my bet is a healthy number of those sales were in Utah. If the levels seen on our trails this summer are any indication, it’s likely people are itching to hit the slopes come December.

Well, an old adage is “if it’s good for Vail, it’s good for Park City.” Or at least I imagine someone has said that. We’ll see.

I’ll look forward to seeing you at the PCMR parking lot at 7:30 AM — so we both can vie for the last spot.

Park City poop says we are doing OK with Covid-19

That may be the strangest headline we’ve written at the Park Rag.

A friend suggested we check out the Utah Department of Environmental Quality website. They monitor “observed infection rates in each corresponding sewershed” or put differently they look for Coronavirus in poop.

Why this matters is that if a person has the Coronavirus, it will show up in his or her sewage. It doesn’t depend on a person showing symptoms or getting tested. It is a more complete picture, since, as the children’s book says, “Everyone Poops.”

The website is available here. If interested, you’ll want to click on the East Canyon or Silver Creek icons on the map. Historically, the amount of gene copies per person, per day, in the sewage seems to correlate with upcoming COVID counts.

If you live in the Basin, outside of Park City proper, you are generally covered by the East Canyon Treatment facility. The top graph below shows the amount of corona gene copies in sewage. The bottom graph shows the number of positive tests per hundred thousand in the area. The top graph of Covid-19 in sewage generally correlates with cases starting in May. The take away from this is that you are looking for spikes in sewage that have not been shown in the lower graph. This indicates more people are infected than currently acknowledged.

Right now, in Summit county we are generally seeing less than ten new COVID cases per day — and often only a handful. Per the sewage monitoring, we sit at about 4 MGC per hundred thousand people. That’s nowhere near the 77 MGC that accompanied our last spike. So, if you are a healthcare worker or teacher wondering what’s hiding beneath your patient or student’s mask, there’s little COVID as of now — at least according to the poop.

We’ll continue to follow this and see if we can find a way to post it along with School COVID counts automatically. If we see a spike, we’ll let you know.

Division of Environmental Quality

A better way to find Park City School District Covid Numbers

The good news is that the Park City School District is publishing the number of students in schools with Covid-19. The bad news is that it is almost impossible to find.

We’ve tried to help people on Next Door and Facebook find the numbers but it isn’t easy. You have to navigate to the district web page, find a link, find another link, go into a PDF, then enter Google Docs.

So, we’ve found an easy way to post them here on the Park Rag. If you are on a laptop/desktop, you can click here:

On a mobile phone, click the “pancake” menu in the upper right and then click on the menu item “Park City School District Covid Numbers.”

We can’t control the content, but hopefully it’s an easier way to find information. It appears the school district updates the info on Friday.

You can click on the menu above or here for this week’s numbers.

Update: The School District’s spreadsheet was updated again today (9/21). Looks like the two previous COVID-cases have dropped off (the date where they can return to school passed). There appears to be another case (likely the third case in our schools) that was reported today at PCHS.

Today’s Kimball Junction car gathering likely spread Covid further into Summit County

People don’t give a crap. That should worry you for this year’s Park City Winter. Today, this was shown by the hundreds of car enthusiasts who gathered, mostly unmasked, in the Visitor Center Parking Lot in Kimball Junction.

As they stood in groups and then moved from car to car, you could see the virus spreading with them. Keep in mind that it is illegal to gather in groups of 50 or more. There were clearly at least two or three times this number at this gathering.

The only positive for Summit County residents is that most of these people were probably from the valley. You know, the same places that have accounted for about 2,100 new coronavirus cases over the past three days. So, hopefully, they came, some probably got infected, and they left.

God help us if they spent time or money at any business here. Sorry Hugo Coffee, you were probably too close to avoid the infected masses.

Outside of today’s impacts, it just bodes horribly for the winter. While car enthusiasts are passionate, they are few. Skiers and boarders from the valley are both passionate and plentiful. If the state reports more Covid-19 cases than New York City during a two-day stretch, and people are still willing to gather in the numbers seen this morning, I wonder what stupidity the ski season will bring.

Some may say we need to levy a fine on the owner of the parking lot where this event occurred. The owner, in this case, would be Summit County. That’s funny. However, the county should pass an emergency ordinance stopping car events in any lots that it owns — punishable by fines. If they don’t, they are complicit going forward — and that’s not the way our Health Department and government have operated since this began. You wish it wouldn’t have to be this way because previous car events seemed like people were having fun. Those were different times, though.

I really can’t believe that a few hundred people would want to gather in close proximity to others, given recent events — even if it was outside. Then again, I’ve never understood the thought process of a lot of people.

So far, since March, we have done pretty well against the coronavirus in Summit County. Except for the lodge party, our daily coronavirus counts are typically in the low, single digits. That’s likely not true for long.

Winter is coming.

Will you take a bus to ski this winter?

As we approach Labor Day, many of our thoughts turn toward skiing. Usually, Parkites make ski-lesson and season pass decisions around the end-of-summer holiday. This year it is more complicated.

If you are an Epic Pass holder from last year, you’d probably get about 20% off on your pass this year due to Vail’s earlier-than-planned closing. Similar things are happening with the Ikon Pass and Deer Valley season passes. However, then you have to consider Vail’s reservation system. What’s that going to look like? Given the backlash to the reservation system, Deer Valley will likely get more visitors than before. That’s almost impossible to fathom, given the what has happened at DV due to Ikoners from SLC.

Yet, I’ve been thinking more and more about the buses. It’s been years since I have parked in a ski resort parking lot. I always take the bus from Kimball Junction (or Ecker) to Deer Valley, PCMR, or Canyons. However, with Covid-19, I can’t imagine there are many worse places than sitting in an enclosed bus with ten other riders (maybe forty other riders at times).

From KJ to Canyons is ten minutes on the White Electric #10 Bus. If I believe the science, then I have little to worry about even if everyone else on that bus is infected, because I am only around them, in an enclosed box, for ten minutes (not fifteen). So, for me, that argues going with an Epic Pass.

If I rode to Deer Valley on the White Electric bus, it would be at least 30 minutes and a transfer to an in-town option that goes to DV (another 10 minutes). Those in town buses to DV are often REALLY packed, but maybe not this year over the same virus concerns. Yet, I’d be spending forty minutes on buses with little airflow. Then, I’d be hoping that the busses to DV won’t be packed.

Do I wager $2500 on a Deer Valley ski pass to the hopes that the buses will be OK? Or do I Wager $700 on an Epic Pass that requires reservations, but the bus ride is shorter? Oh, and will Deer Valley do the reservation thing, too? Perhaps they are just slower than Vail and so they haven’t announced it.

So, I’ll likely do the Epic Pass. It’s funny how committing to public transport, where you can, completely influences decisions. I suppose I could drive to Deer Valley. However, I think parking at any resort this winter is going to be a total nightmare.

Hideout Utah is a hell-hole that no one should be associated with

Hideout, the town on the banks of the Jordanelle Reservoir, on the Wasatch County side of the map, is attempting to annex parts of Summit County near the Richardson Flat parking lot. Summit County is fighting the effort in court.

Basically, the town of Hideout didn’t plan adequately for services for its residents and now it wants to expand into Summit County. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s kid, Josh, and Nate Brockbank want to capitalize on that and build a mixed-use facility around Richardson Flat. Why? Because they want to make money.

The downside to Park City and Summit County is that we won’t be able to exercise planning over any of it. It will only make traffic worse. The shit-show that can be Wasatch County will come within a stone’s throw of Quinn’s Junction. Don’t get me wrong, Wasatch County will still be a problem for Park City in the long run, but this will exacerbate it and accelerate it.

The reason that a city in another county can annex pieces of land in a different county is due to the legislature’s incompetence. It doesn’t make any sense. The Utah Legislature was lobbied to do this a few years ago and the brilliant minds in SLC allowed this. The Legislature may repeal it due to citizen pressure but maybe not in time.

Perhaps Hideout will rule the day and Romney, et. al will get rich(er).

Perhaps not.

I think too often we look to the government for solutions. Maybe the government will find one. Great.

However, if we the people take things into our own hands we can influence things. If real estate agents put the community above their commissions they can influence buying decisions. Perhaps, you don’t show houses in Hideout. It’s your choice.

If you, as an average person, are asked about living in Hideout, you can tell them that everyone hates Hideout. You can tell them that buying a property there is the worst decision that they could ever make. If they live there, they will be a pariah.

If you are out at a bar and someone tells you that they live in Hideout, you can respond, “I’m sorry” and walk away.

To those that have a property in Hideout and say, “This is not fair. It’s not our fault.” I respond with a simple statement:

Control your f****ing government.

There has not been an increase in students at Park City schools this year

Coming into this year’s school year, rumors were rampant about the number of new kids coming to Park City. The narrative was that people were fleeing their Coronavirus-infused hellholes to come to idyllic Park City – and they were bringing their kids with them.

At one point I heard there were going to be 700 additional students in our district. I could have believed it. The only problem is that it wasn’t true. Maybe the parents came here for the summer and are planning to stay for the winter, but it looks like they left the kids home with their nannies.

On Thursday, during Leslie Thatcher‘s Local News Hour on KPCW, Ms. Thatcher asked Park City School District Business Administrator Todd Hauber about the number of students the district is seeing so far. Mr. Hauber replied that official numbers would come out in October, but the district did an unofficial headcount (on Tuesday) like they do every year. According to Mr. Hauber, “There were around 3600 in-person students and around 835 online learners” as part of the count. He noted that the total is between 4400-4500 students and is usually about 95% to 96% of the number of students that are presented as part of the official count in October. He said the numbers are in line with what they were expecting.

I’ll point out that last year‘s official Park City enrollment was 4,757. If the headcount turns out to be 95% of the final numbers, our student population this year will be around 4,735 — down a bit from last year. That would be similar to last year, where we saw a 0.5% decrease in students.

In this Coronavirus-crazed world who know what could eventually happen with the numbers, but as of today, it appears the fears of our schools being jammed due to new students were unfounded.

Park City bus ridership has not returned to pre-covid levels yet

One of the signs that Park City “is back” will be bus ridership. We aren’t there yet and are barely above the complete-COVID days of April. For the last 30 days, we are averaging about 1.8 people on each bus. Around 8 AM and 5 PM we may get up to 5-6 people per bus, which makes sense with people going to and from work.

However, keep in mind, we need about 9 people per diesel bus to make it more environmentally friendly than driving a car.

At some point, we may need to discuss options other than large buses. Should we be running those yellow vans that run around Kimball instead of the large buses until ski season (if it happens)?

As of now, people either don’t want to ride the buses or don’t need to. We’ll keep you updated on this as changes happen.

Average number of bus riders per hour, per bus on each day