86 Killington Resort employees test positive, Dec. 30
By Polly Mikula
On Sunday and Monday, Jan. 2-3, hundreds lined up in to be tested in their vehicles at the former Killington Fire Station on Killington Road — 642 to be exact, according to Police Chief Whit Montgomery who was covering the event. An additional 250 tried to sign up but were unable to get appointments. Another opportunity is planned this Thursday and Friday, Jan. 6-7, from 2-6 p.m. he added.
Results were back fast — 24 hours for Montgomery and fellow workers, he said.
The pop-up PCR testing site was added to the state’s schedule after 86 employees of Killington Resort tested positive for Covid-19 on Dec. 30. Another 22 employees were reportedly symptomatic were awaiting the results of testing, according to the state Dept.of Health.
In cooperation with the resort, the state also held three employee testing clinics at the resort, Sunday through Tuesday, Jan. 4. The clinics also offered employees the opportunity to get vaccinated. “We became aware of the situation that there were a number of cases there on Monday,” health department spokesperson Ben Truman reported. “It’s being considered an outbreak as of today.”
Killington’s was the largest known outbreak affecting a Vermont business, according to Truman. There were a total of 1,352 new cases reported Thursday, Dec. 30. Killington Resort employs over 1,000 employees.
“Like many businesses, especially those who are customer facing, we have seen an increase in positive Covid cases given the highly contagious Omicron variant and at this time a small percentage of our staff has tested positive,” Michael Solimano, president and general manager of Killington and Pico, said via email.
Mandatory masking was reinstated at both Killington and Pico resorts Monday, Dec. 27. “This policy requires all guests and employees, vaccinated or not, to wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth while indoors or riding our gondolas,” according to an announcement on the resort’s website.
Both Killington and Pico instituted a vaccine and mask mandate for all staff and volunteers before opening for the season, offered weekly testing on site throughout November and December, and provided paid time off and rides to employees so that they could obtain booster shots.
“We also canceled base lodge music and closed indoor bars where we cannot control capacity and shifted focus to outdoor bars and dining locations encouraging guests to treat their car as their base lodge and of course staying home if they feel sick,” Solimano wrote.
Additionally, the resort made the decision to cancel the New Years’ Party at The Wobbly Barn.
Killington has taken all the appropriate prevention and precautionary measures, Truman said, as well as steps to support employees. “Obviously the outbreak is, in a word, unfortunate, but it is not unexpected,” he said, given the wide reach of the virus and the rising statewide count. “It’s present in the workforce and it’s circulating,” Truman said. “There’s no patient zero situation. It’s out there with the folks who have it and it’s circulating around the community.” Auditi Guha/VTDigger contributed to this reporting.