Racing In The Shadows of The Coronavirus
From the Start Line to the Labor Lines
“I have no choice but to put probably about 90 percent of my 40,000 people on furlough,” stated Life Time CEO and owner of the Leadville Race Series (LRS) Bahram Akradi after reviewing the stimulus plans that came out of the nation’s capital last week. “We’ve committed to pay our team members through Friday, March 27.”
As of today, that furlough is in place, including LRS employees, with Akradi committing to bringing them back immediately if the situation changes. Readers can see his full interview with Laura Ingraham on “The Ingraham Angle.”
But the racing series’ batting average began to decline more than two weeks ago when owner Life Time took a hard curve ball having to close all of its fitness clubs across the country on Monday, March 16. The healthy-way-of-life-company cited “recent orders and advisories from federal, state and local governmental authorities regarding COVID-19,” in a letter to club members, but failed to mention the confirmed reports that “a person who visited a Life Time Fitness gym on March 7 in Houston was diagnosed with a presumptive case of the coronavirus COVID-19.”
The fitness giant did respond and eventually took action with the closing of more than 150 locations across America and Canada amid the growing COVID-19 health crisis. No doubt, it’s been a month of tough decisions for the company which purchased the Leadville Race Series with great fanfare in 2010.
“The economic damage is monumental,” wrote Hank Rearden on one of the Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) group Facebook pages.
Then came the second strike on March 17 when the first of the LT100 qualifiers, The Austin Rattler was canceled. The volume was turned up in the chat rooms as racers saw what was likely to be a compromised race season, at best. The requests for deferrals (postponing until 2021) and outright refunds filled up the inbox at the LT100 race headquarters. By March 29, instead of posting the winners of the Austin race along with the entries into the iconic LT100 MTB race in August, event producers made the best out of the situation by randomly selecting 10 lucky entries for the bike and run events in Leadville.
At this point, Akradi’s furlough announcement hadn’t quite reached the news feeds but when it did earlier this week, it was the third swing-and-miss, leaving the LRS game in delay with plenty of storm clouds in sight.
- Rick J Nooft Maybe Leadville could buy the Race Series back, that would free up some cash for him
- Zach Long Yeah doubtful at best. Just Leadville brings in millions for them. Pretty much a 1/3 of their race $
But for main street Leadville, the CEO’s statement is significant and – so far – the only one made by the fitness company regarding the Leadville Race Series and its viability this summer. It’s certainly a weight on the scales of the low-interest and forgiveness loans being considered by small businesses and promoted by local agencies. After all, navigating staff and inventory decisions without knowing whether Lake County’s weighty economic anchor will bring the guaranteed visitors and fans could leave small businesses out in leftfield for many seasons to come.
UPDATE: Leadville Today received a response from Life Time regarding this report.
“Dig Deep” – If You’re a Miner
While the Coronavirus spread has its finger over the pause button for the LRS start lines, it’s off to the races for another big Lake County employer: The Climax Mine, or more specifically it’s parent company, Freeport-McMoRan (FCX). According to a market report issued by Seeking Alpha on April 1. “Investors’ indiscriminate dumping of mining stocks since the proliferation of COVID-19 has resulted in a gift for buyers of Freeport-McMoRan (FCX). We believe that FCX is a unique beneficiary of recent developments in the copper market that have ensued in recent weeks. FCX’s long-awaited Grasberg (in Indonesia) open pit transition underground is on schedule for completion next year, enabling the company to grow its copper and gold volumes by 30% – 40%, reduce its net unit cash costs of copper by 25% to $1.30/lb and generate run-rate EBITDA of $7 billion at $3/lb copper prices.”
But be sure to read the entire market analysis, because a quick sprint out of the gates could turn into a marathon as “the probability of a large deficit in the copper market has increased….While the media has focused on the spread of COVID-19 in North America, Europe and Asia, incidences of the virus have been increasing exponentially in Latin America, which produces over 40% of the world’s copper. The Peruvian government imposed a quarantine on March 19 to stall the spread of the pandemic, and Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, declared a “state of catastrophe” on the same day.”
At present, employees at the Climax Mine are considered “essential,” even under the newly updated Public Health order and guidance for determining essential and nonessential businesses, released this morning April 2 from Jackie Littlepage, the Lake County Public Health Agency Director of Environmental Health/Health Inspector.
Even among the Coronavirus concerns, pushback from the mine’s employees has been slight (“Oh good, I have an “essential” job,” wrote one) as most understand that mining is considered essential simply based on its relationship to “critical manufacturing.” The global giant has been responsive, as noted by FXC’s CEO Richard C. Adkerson, outlining the company’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 in a March 22 letter to Stakeholders.
“We have established a dedicated global task force to closely monitor developments and assist in our business continuity planning we have implemented multiple actions to limit workforce exposure to the virus ranging from travel and visitor restrictions adjustment to our operating practices and requiring that our employees follow guidelines to prevent its spread those employees who can work from home or doing so.”
A Tale of Two Cities at 10,200′
While the heavy hitters figure it out in the big leagues of international markets, Leadville’s Harrison Avenue businesses find themselves in a competitive game of Survival of the Fittest. From the anchor retailer Melanzana which transitioned into the medical mask business last week to the Tennessee Pass Café who has reconfigured its dining operations to a take-out and delivery model (like all local eateries!) and is hanging on, but for how long? Others have already thrown in the dish towel citing reasons from employee safety to not being able to pay the bills after another 30-day Stay-At-Home message was impressed at the end of March.
The one industry that has continued is construction. But there are violators of social distancing measures which is leading to enhanced monitoring and restrictions. Just this morning the Director of Environmental Programs for the state, John E. Putnam issued new COVID-19 guidelines for the construction industry, although there’s no word on how this will likely be enforced.
For healthcare workers on the frontline, the anxiety is managed moment-to-moment as they wait for the anticipated COVID-19 surge forecasted for Colorado in the coming week(s). Fortunately, there was a welcome sign(s) of relief as community volunteers made Thank You signs, ready to greet the staff at Rocky Mountain Family Practice early Wednesday morning.
It seems a #spoonfulofsugar and gratitude really does help the medicine go down! Stay strong!
- Jessica Eger wrote: “Thank you!! I am nervous for work every single day. This morning, these signs made me that more brave to walk through the door.
Stay healthy, stay home and stay strong!
- Claudia Robles: “Thank you we loved it! It made our day!”
- Lori Patton “Thank you to whoever did this for us!! It definitely brought a smile to our faces this morning!!”
The signs have been one of many acts of kindness that have been socially shared from a distance in support of the entire Team 80461. Reports of High Mountain Pies keeping the Leadville Police Department in good pizza really does make you powerful. And The Treeline Kitchen on more than one occasion has sent meals to healthcare workers. Keep up the good works! Feel free to share your stories and photos with LT at email@example.com or on one of our social media platforms.
Hospital Board Election on May 5
In other than COVID-19 hospital news, there is a board election scheduled for May 5 for St. Vincent Hospital in Leadville. As is the case with all elections being held in the shadow of Coronavirus, “We’re mindful of minimizing the number of in-person voters for the St. Vincent General Hospital District election that will take place on May 5,” stated Karen Onderdonk SVH Director of Outreach and Development. Therefore the hospital is encouraging voters to utilize the absentee ballot because at this point there is no option to conduct a mail-in only election.
Leadville Today encourages every voice to be heard and every vote to be counted, as the hospital board seats three new members this May.
- Jonathan Burk for Three-Year Term (unopposed)
- Aleta Louise Bezzic for Three-Year Term (unopposed)
- Craig A. Stuller for Two-Year Term (Incumbent)
- Challenger Candidate – Saige Bertolas
- Challenger Candidate – Whittney M. Smythe-Smith.
Third Positive in Lake County Reported
This morning, April 2, the Lake County Public Health Agency (LCPHA) reported the third positive case of COVID-19 (Corona Virus) in Lake County in a press release distributed to media outlets. “The patient is a 54 year-old-male from Lake County likely exposed through community transmission. Public Heath is investigating. ”
That brings the total Coronavirus tests administered in Lake County to nine (9) with six being returned with negative results and three positives.
COVID Reports from Leadville Today
Meanwhile, Leadville Today will continue to bring readers the latest news concerning the virus and its impact on Lake County. Here is a list of stories covered thus far about COVID – 19.
- Ready or Not? Preparedness in Pbville – March 10
- The Closures. The Plan. The Truth. – March 15
- Shelter (Food & Water) from the Storm – March 17
- The 411 on the 911 in the 80461 – March 19
- Mountain Medicine: Wisdom From Above – March 21
- Paper or Plastic: On the Frontlines – March 26
- Melly Masks: Made in Leadville – March 27
- Close Quarters: Cloud City Quarantine – March 29
Support Independent News In Leadville Today
LT remains committed to pushing for the answers, in getting to the truth. That kind of dedication and resources also takes money. So here’s an opportunity to support independent news in Leadville Today by making a financial contribution of any amount. Thank You for your continued support. Until then, stay well, and as always please feel free to reach out to Leadville Today via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on any of LT’s social media platforms. You are invited to share your opinions, suggestions and comments, as always in a thoughtful, respectful manner.