Cook County Public Health advice to businesses on coping with the Omicron surge
Grace Grinager, Cook County Public Health Supervisor, wishes to alert business owners and managers that the COVID-19 surge resulting from the Omicron variant will affect us here in Cook County, likely for the next few months. It is so highly contagious that it is spreading at three-to-five times as fast as the original strain of COVID-19.
Grinager said the main impact on businesses will be staff shortages when employees call in ill. Here are a few pieces of advice for local business owners:
- Please support your employees in staying home when they are sick!!! While challenging, this is the most important thing you can do to help prevent COVID from spreading rapidly in your workforce
- Please encourage your employees to get vaccinated AND boosted if they are eligible (2 months after J&J, 5 months after Pfizer series, or 6 months after Moderna series). Weekly opportunities continue to be advertised on the county’s hub site (http://cookcountycovid19.org). The booster dose is particularly important at preventing infection.
- Re-visit and strengthen your COVID mitigation strategies. With this new variant spreading, this is more important than ever in order to minimize disruption to your business. Encourage masking with a KN-95 level mask (one clearinghouse for vetted masks is https://shop.projectn95.org/masks/). Consider staggering staffing, and distancing staff to the extent possible when on-site. Make sure that staff who have been feeling ill or have been exposed to COVID-19 test (5 days post-exposure). Consider having test kits (antigen or mail-in saliva test kits) available on-site at your business to facilitate testing.
The nature of the pandemic is changing. Due to the highly contagious nature of the new variant, the sheer number of people becoming sick will rise. While we do expect more breakthrough cases, this doesn’t mean the vaccines aren’t working. With more people in the community vaccinated and boosted, the chances of the vaccinated segment of the population becoming seriously ill is much lower than it has been in the past. The segment of the population that remains unvaccinated remains at higher risk for both infection as well as serious outcomes due to COVID-19. This is worrisome as our medical system as a local, regional, and state level are extremely stressed. It continues to be very challenging to transfer local patients out when they require a more intensive level of care (please see attached media release from 1/4/22 Joint Media Release Healthcare Strain – FINAL).
Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort Announces Purchase of Family Stock of Tom Rider
Purchase ensures continued family ownership of resort
For Immediate Release
January 5, 2022 – Lutsen, Minnesota – Lutsen Mountains today announced the purchase of the 50% ownership interest of Co-President Tom Rider. Following the purchase, Charles Skinner will continue as the sole owner and President of Lutsen Mountains, as well as Granite Peak ski resort in Wausau, Wisconsin. The transaction ensures that the iconic North Shore ski resort, that caters to Midwestern families, will continue to be owned and operated by the Skinner family.
The ski resort was founded in 1948 by George Nelson, Jr., which he ran until purchased by Charlie Skinner in 1980. Charlie’s son Charles and son-in-law Tom have run the resort together since joining the business in the early 1990s. “Tom has been a terrific partner over the last 31 years”, said Skinner. “Knowledgeable, smart, extremely skilled, and a superb human being. Tom contributed enormously to this business and I feel very fortunate to have been able to work alongside Tom all of these years”.
“Having devoted three decades of my life to Lutsen Mountains, the decision to sell my interest was difficult and comes with many mixed emotions”, explained Rider. “The main condition to selling was that the business be left in capable hands, and I am confident that with continued family ownership, and the superb team of key staff in place, that the future of Lutsen Mountains is bright.”
“I am very happy that this transaction will enable Lutsen Mountains to continue as a family-run business”, said Charles. “I have long believed that the best model for destination ski areas of our size is multi-generational family ownership. And with both of my daughters, Charlotte and Caroline, having grown up in the ski business, and with MBA degrees, I am grateful that they have the interest and aptitude to lead the family business in the coming years.”
“We also have an amazing team of senior managers”, continued Skinner, “many of whom also are multiple-generation family employees of Lutsen Mountains, including the Vick, Buckman and Plummer families. The family theme is an entrenched part of our business culture, and is something we are very proud of.”
Lutsen Mountains also announced closer collaboration with Granite Peak going forward.
“From combined ticket and season pass products to leveraging the talents of the two businesses’ key managers across the combined enterprise, being able to operate the two resorts as a single operation and with a single vision, will have enormous benefits to employees and to customers”, stated Lutsen’s Operations Manager and Marketing Director, Jim Vick, a 30-year veteran at Lutsen Mountains.
Greg Fisher, General Manager and Marketing Director of Granite Peak, who joined Granite Peak in 2020 after an accomplished career at the 17-resort Peak Resorts following Peak’s acquisition by Vail Resorts, elaborated further. “I have been wanting to sit down with the Lutsen team for quite some time to see how we can develop more joint products and promotions that I know our customers would love. There are also many operational and administrative functions where closer collaboration would greatly benefit both resorts”.
Lutsen and Granite Peak have both proposed major expansions in terrain and facilities. “The planned expansions are necessary for the ski areas to survive for the next generation of Midwest skiers, and we are counting on the next generation of family ownership and our talented team of managers to realize the full potential of these improvements,” said Skinner.
“Lutsen Mountains is the winter anchor of our county’s tourism-based economy, and the expansion is necessary for Lutsen Mountains to continue to draw the large number of winter visitors to Cook County that many of our other businesses depend on”, noted Linda Jurek, Executive Director of the Cook County Chamber/Visit Cook County.
Jim Boyd, the Director of Public Policy for the Cook County Chamber, explained further. “As a small, family-owned resort, Lutsen will never be as large as the Western conglomerate resorts, but with the proposed expansion, Lutsen will be able to offer varied terrain and up-to-date facilities that can lure substantial numbers of families to take a five-hour road trip rather than boarding a plane and heading west. We are grateful that Lutsen Mountains has accepted the challenge to survive through growth, and to take on the debt load to make that growth possible. Our economy depends on this expansion because, without the winter revenue from downhill skiers that visit Lutsen Mountains, many or most of the businesses in our county would not be viable.”
The stock purchase was made under a process initiated by Rider pursuant to a longstanding buy-sell agreement between the parties. The specific terms of the transaction are considered a private family matter and were not released.
Jim Vick, Director of Operations and Marketing, Lutsen Mountains | email: firstname.lastname@example.org | ph# (218) 406-1300
Amanda Plummer, Assistant Director of Operations and Marketing, Lutsen Mountains | email: email@example.com | ph# (218) 406-1377
Gregory Fisher, General Manager and Marketing Director, Granite Peak | email: firstname.lastname@example.org | ph# (715) 845-2846