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Kottkamp sparks Twitter backlash over Vail Resorts closure

Former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp tweeted his displeasure Saturday after industry giants Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company said they would close dozens of resorts. Then Twitter reacted.
Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp at a bill signing Thursday at the Florida Capitol.   SCOTT KEELER  | Times
Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp at a bill signing Thursday at the Florida Capitol. SCOTT KEELER | Times [ KEELER, SCOTT | St. Petersburg Times ]
Published Mar. 16, 2020
Updated Mar. 16, 2020

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DENVER — Colorado’s governor and a state lawmaker criticized a former Florida lieutenant governor who complained that his vacation was ruined when Vail closed its ski resort due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp tweeted his displeasure Saturday after industry giants Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company said they would close dozens of North America’s most well-known resorts, including the iconic Vail resort in Colorado.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also ordered the state’s downhill resorts to close for a week to mitigate the virus’s spread.

“Thank you for making this announcement as we are driving in to Vail,” Kottkamp tweeted after Vail announced its closure. “Came all the way from Florida only to have our family’s vacation destroyed.”

The Denver Post reports that Polis and Democratic state Sen. Kerry Donovan were quick to react.

“Thank you for your deep concerns regarding the health of our residents in the face of a global pandemic, as well as your heartfelt sympathy for the difficulties faced by those who work in the ski industry and hospitality,” Polis said.

Donovan, whose district includes Vail, said, “We should be commending (Vail’s decision), not complaining. But, please keep thinking of yourself.”

Sage Naumann, spokesman for Colorado Senate Republicans, joined in Sunday.

“‘Came all the way from Florida only to realize Colorado is actually stepping up to prevent the spread of a global pandemic,’” Naumann tweeted. “Fixed it for you, Lieutenant Governor. Colorado is united in beating this.”

Kottkamp said Sunday he had “no quarrel” with Vail’s decision. But he criticized the resort for insisting it was open for business until it suddenly announced otherwise — something he said was “very unfair to thousands of visitors to the state.”

Had Vail Resorts given advance notice “before their closure, as was done by Disney World and Universal Studios in my home state, lots of heartaches, inconvenience, and financial loss could have been avoided,” Kottkamp said in an email to The Associated Press.

Kottkamp, an attorney, was lieutenant governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011. The Republican also served in that state’s House of Representatives.

Later Sunday, Colorado health authorities urged residents of and visitors to four counties in Ski Country over the past week to limit their contact with others and watch for virus symptoms that include cough, fever and shortness of breath.

The Department of Public Health and Environment said the region is seeing “high rates of community transition” of the virus. Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties saw at least 40 of the state’s 131 cases by mid-day Sunday, the department said. The region includes Vail, Aspen and other ski resorts.

Polis has banned public gatherings of more than 250 people and taken other measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has deemed a pandemic.

The disease for most people causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority recover.

In the U.S., at least 61 people have died, including one in Colorado.

Other regional ski resorts suspended operations Sunday, including Alta and Snowbird in Utah and Big Sky in Montana. Wyoming’s Jackson Hole closed for the season, as did Montana’s Whitefish Mountain Resort and Utah’s Snowbasin.

Powder Mountain in Utah limited visitors to 1,000 per day and said it was taking other measures, including not grouping strangers on its chairlifts.

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