Community Center reopens Monday

Facility closed for two weeks with employees quarantined

The Glenwood Springs Community Center closed temporarily after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Glenwood Springs Community Center is reopening, again, on Monday, July 20.

Just three weeks after reopening for the first time since the pandemic began, The facility shut down July 6 because an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on July 5.

The employee worked downstairs checking in guests at the pool.

Garfield County Public Health required the other three pool employees to self-quarantine as well.

“The city and the county were working together since the very beginning on the rec center case,” said Carrie Godes, public information officer for Garfield County Public Health. “We only required that four employees self-isolate.” 

With skeleton-crew staffing levels during the pandemic, the Community Center could not stay open with four employees away from work. While the remaining employees could have been reassigned during the closure, the city opted to ask them to self-quarantine as well.

“With the four that the county had asked to self-isolate we had to shut down the Community Center anyway, so we asked the other five to self-isolate as well during that time as an extra precaution,” said Brian Smith, city Parks and Recreation director. “It was as much a staffing issue as a health issue. The county didn’t require us to shut down the Community Center.”

The job of the employee who tested positive was making sure that guests were on the center’s reservation system, which proved useful for COVID-19 contact tracing.

“We know who was in our facility, when they were in the facility, and who else they interacted with or could have come in contact with, so we were able to identify all the people that were checked in by this employee and give that information to Garfield County so that they could then do their contact tracing,” Cristi Newton, Community Center manager, said.

The members of the public who came into contact with the employee were not required to self-quarantine.

“Garfield County determined them to have minimal risk based on the fact that he sits at a table behind plexiglas, he was wearing his mask, and there was social distancing. Each person who comes in is six feet from his table when they check in, so it’s really limited interaction,” Newton said.

Newton said the Community Center has and will continue to take all the safety precautions necessary for the duration of the pandemic.

“My staff just is extremely careful. They’re following every protocol that could possibly be followed, they’re sanitizing between groups, they’re wearing their masks, the people coming in and out are wearing masks, they’re doing all their social distancing, and I think just by the fact that [the employee who tested positive] was the only one who was positive and we’re 90% positive he did not contract it from the Community Center, I think we’re confident in reopening,” Newton said.

The most-exposed employees will be tested again before Monday.

“The four the county had asked to self-isolate we had tested and will be tested before they return to work,” Smith said.

The Community Center also used the incident as an opportunity sure to examine its protocols. 

“We did have a review of our policies and procedures and safety guidelines with Gary Tillotson, the [Glenwood Springs] fire chief … as well as our HR director just to review everything and to make sure there wasn’t anything that we were lacking in safety guidelines that may have led to exposure, and everyone felt pretty good that we were doing everything correctly,” Smith said.

The only safety upgrade at the Community Center is the result of a state mandate.

“We really haven’t made any additional changes other than the governor’s mask order that just came out, so we will be requiring and enforcing masks in the facility even while patrons are exercising, unless they’re swimming,” Smith said.

In terms of recreation, the Community Center will have more available to guests when it reopens.

“In addition to opening the fitness area and the pool, this time we are also going to open a gymnasium by reservation. People will be able to reserve half of the basketball gym for an hour and 45 minutes starting on Monday. They will have to provide their own equipment; we won’t be providing any basketballs or volleyballs,” Newton said.

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