Colorado tightens COVID-19 restrictions in 12 more counties

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Colorado is moving 12 more counties to the second-highest level of COVID-19 restrictions in the coming days, meaning at least 27 counties will be one step away from lockdown if they don’t slow the growing transmission of the new coronavirus .The pandemic continues to worsen in Colorado, with the state again reporting a record number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations on Thursday.

State public health officials – reluctant to issue another stay-at-home order – continued to urge the Coloradans to only interact with those in their household, wear masks and stay away. six feet from others when in the community.

“Our hope with all of this is the types of local interventions that will help control the spread of this pandemic in these local communities,” said Dr Eric France, chief medical officer at the State Department of Public Health and of the Environment, about moving more counties to the orange level on the state’s color-coded numbering system. This level reduces the capacity of most companies to 25%.

“While we can have an impact on the pandemic through these local interventions, and potentially state interventions, we must remember that it all starts with us,” he said at a press briefing. “It starts with us as individuals.”

All 10 counties will move to Level Orange on Friday: Douglas, El Paso, La Plata, Phillips, Prowers, Sedgwick, Otero, Crowley, Gilpin and Clear Creek. Two other counties – Pueblo and Conejos – will move to that level on Saturday, according to the state’s health department.

Boulder County, already at Level Orange, took additional local action Thursday, announcing it was limiting capacity for indoor events to 25% and no more than 25 people. The county previously allowed indoor events to have multiple venues with each at the 25% limit, health department spokeswoman Chana Goussetis said in an email.

Pueblo on Thursday also extended the city’s curfew from 10 p.m. until November 27. The county released 11 citations for people breaking the curfew, according to a press release.

“Most of our businesses, communities and schools are doing exactly what we need to do to reduce the spread of this disease,” Jeff Zayach, Boulder County director of public health, said in a statement. “But when we don’t all take this seriously, it impacts everyone – from those who have lost loved ones to the ability to keep children in school, to the ability of our businesses to continue to function, and certainly to our emotional, physical and mental activities. health. ”

He warned the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment could lock the county down if transmission of the novel coronavirus continues

The state health department on Wednesday reported 4,591 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This is the highest daily number of cases reported since the start of the pandemic, even though testing was insufficient in the first few months.

Colorado’s percentage of tests coming back positive in the past seven days is 11.68% – well above the recommended target of 5%. The high positivity, associated with hospitalizations, means that transmission of the disease is increasing and the increase in the number of new cases is not simply due to more tests.

“This means that there are people who are not identified through testing and therefore could be on the move and not isolated or quarantined as we would like,” France said.

On Thursday, 1,183 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of the virus, the day after the total number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations – now 1,322 confirmed and suspected – first passed the April peak. So far, 85 percent of the state’s intensive care unit beds are in use, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

Local public health officials have called on state leaders to implement more stringent interventions to curb the rise of COVID-19. They said the surge in new infections is beyond their ability to perform contact tracing and that the state’s numbering system is working the way it was built.

The numbering system assigns counties a level based on new cases, the percentage of positive tests and the evolution of hospitalizations over a two-week period. The highest step is red, and a county that reaches it would be placed under a stay at home order.

Of Level Orange counties, at least 25, including most of the Denver metro area, have case incidences high enough to qualify for Level Red. Four counties – Adams, Morgan, Prowers and Summit – also have test positivity rates in the red. Pueblo has hospital numbers that also qualify for the red level, according to the state’s health department.

The state Department of Public Health and Environment is giving counties time to work on a plan to reduce the number of cases, positivity testing and hospitalizations before taking them to the next level. It takes about two weeks for the data to show if there have been any changes in the transmission of the disease due to the additional restrictions put in place when counties move from a lower level to a higher level.

The Colorado Department of Health hopes to begin to see the effects of the state’s order limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people from two households in the counties in the Safer Home phase – blue, yellow and yellow levels. orange – next week, France said. .

Still, France said it was not sure Colorado would see a drop in COVID-19 cases due to the interventions currently in place.

“If cases continue to increase in these two weeks, it’s clear that counties will need to do more to slow things down,” he said.

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