Park City leaders express deepening concern about coronavirus cases, mask talk expected |

Park City leaders express deepening concern about coronavirus cases, mask talk expected

Mayor and City Council will likely hold a rare special meeting shortly about the pandemic

The Marsac Building.
Park Record file photo

Park City leaders on Thursday expressed renewed concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus, touching on issues like the rate of transmission, mask mandates and the efforts undertaken by the County Courthouse and the Statehouse to combat recent increases in case numbers.

Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council held an unscheduled discussion about the coronavirus and were not set to make decisions at the meeting. It appears they want to reconvene shortly, possibly early in the coming week, in a special meeting about the topic. Special meetings are uncommon and the talk of such a gathering signals deepening concern.

City Councilor Steve Joyce was especially vocal on Thursday, saying special events like the Park Silly Sunday Market and the Park City Follies performances are drawing crowds. Approximately 40% of the crowd at a recent Follies performance wore masks, according to Joyce’s estimate.

Joyce noted state health officials classify Summit County as a place with a high level of coronavirus transmission. He said if the same numbers were tallied in 2020 as those of recent weeks there would be calls for masking and social distancing.

“Now, it’s just kind of like we’re just going to kind of chill,” he said, noting the case increases in recent months and the number of people in intensive-care units.

Joyce, speaking broadly about local governments and the wider community, expressed concern about what he sees as a lack of recent steps.

“By all measures we should be taking big action and, honestly, we’re doing nothing, really, and it’s beginning to worry me,” he said.

He said the transmission level climbed between June and July and then again between July and August.

“They haven’t done anything as we’ve gone from low to medium to high to react to it and to change behaviors and apply new restrictions or try to dial it back and keep us from going to super-uber high, which of course there’s no such thing,” he said. “But COVID doesn’t know that. And so I don’t think they’ve done anything, and that worries the hell out of me.”

Another member of the City Council, Becca Gerber, said cases among youngsters have increased to a level matching last winter. She said it is “terrifying” as the winter approaches. Gerber said businesses have approached her asking for the government to institute a mask requirement.

“They’re trying to mandate it for their employees and for people coming into their stores. And without someone at a higher level mandating that mask, it makes it really hard. Our businesses are put in a tough position. I think it’s time for someone to step in and provide some guidance,” she said, adding, “It’s time for somebody to step in and say we’re at a high level of transmission, we need to change our behaviors again.”

The mayor and City Council also spoke about the collaboration between City Hall and the County Courthouse throughout the pandemic. There was a mention of the potential of a patchwork of rules in the area if City Hall takes additional steps on its own.

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