In response to Gov. Jared Polis’s announcement today revealing COVID-19 Dial 2.0, Chaffee County will be moving to the Yellow Level effective at 9 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 6, according to a press release issued Friday afternoon by Chaffee County Public Health.
The county has been operating at the more restrictive Orange Level for several months.
The statewide COVID-19 dial was originally created to base restrictions on local metrics including 14-day incidence of the virus, percent positivity of testing, and hospitalizations.
The next iteration of the dial provides the ability to better balance disease suppression with economic hardships due to increasing vaccinations and decreasing disease rates.
It also makes the dial framework more responsive to local conditions. As we vaccinate our county’s highest risk individuals, the dial takes this lowered risk into account. The new changes include:
• An increased range of incidence for all colors to better reflect a balance between disease suppression and economic activity, given the level of vaccinations occurring and the overall decreasing trend of disease.
• A 7-day metric of incidence rate, percent positivity of testing, and resident hospitalizations.
• Testing positivity rates are proposed to become lower to meet the yellow and orange levels to 7.5% (from 10%) and 10% (from 15%) respectively.
• When county cases are increasing, mitigation plans will not be required but are still encouraged. Once a county hits the metrics, there will be a consultation with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) regarding swiftly moving the county to the more restrictive level.
There are no changes to school settings in Dial 2.0. Similarly, there are no changes to the capacity levels in Dial 2.0 with the exception that the Level Yellow restaurant capacity is 50% up to 50 people or up to 150 with the distancing calculator. This used to be up to 100 with the calculator.
Counties can always be more restrictive in a level, especially with mitigation plans, and can move to a more restrictive level through their own public health order and do not need to wait for the state. Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) and local leaders have no intention of doing that at this time and are planning for a full transition to the Yellow Level on Saturday morning. Many counties are remaining in the Orange Level.
While the move to Level Yellow is a welcome one, it is imperative that in Chaffee County, we remain diligent in continuing to follow the 5 Commitments to Containment:
• Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance
• Wash hands often
• Properly wear face coverings in public
• Get tested if symptomatic
• Stay home when sick
“Chaffee County has worked so hard to move to a less restrictive level on the dial, and we hope this gives our local businesses more opportunities to operate. However, now is not the time to let our guard down. While we have earned this shift in restrictions, this is the time to protect our investment. The new dial gives us hope that we are truly getting ahead of the pandemic. It is important to know that this process is a simpler and swifter mechanism to move to a less or more restrictive level. There is a good chance that we might find ourselves moving in and out of levels on a frequent basis due to disease transmission trends. For the past few weeks, we have been very close to the 7 day incidence threshold. We are grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding as we embark upon a new chapter in our pandemic response,” states Andrea Carlstrom, Chaffee County Public Health Director.
As more people are vaccinated over the upcoming weeks, the state will be revisiting and revising the dial in hopes that some restrictions are lifted.
Information on statewide Dial 2.0 can be found at: https://covid19.colorado.gov/covid-19-dial.
CCPH has amended and extended its Public Health Order effective today, February 5th. The local order and other COVID-19 information can be found at: http://www.chaffeecounty.org/Public-Health-Coronavirus.