Summit County could move to level yellow as soon as Thursday
Summit County could be operating under level yellow restrictions as soon as Thursday, Feb. 25, if current COVID-19 metrics remain in place.
At a Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23, Dan Hendershott, Summit County’s environmental health manager, said the county will be able to petition the state to move to level yellow if all three of the COVID-19 metrics remain in that level or lower when the state updates the data dashboard at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
County officials heard back from state officials on Tuesday that the change could be effective as soon as Thursday. Under the state’s new COVID-19 dial, which is referred to as Dial 2.0, data is looked at on a seven-day average as opposed to the old dial’s 14-day average.
Because of that change, counties only have to show metrics within a desired level or lower for seven days to move on the dial. Since Thursday, Feb. 18, the county has been showing all three metrics in level yellow.
As of Tuesday, the county’s incidence rate was at 232.4 new cases per 100,000 people, according to the state’s dial dashboard. The positivity rate — the percentage of positive tests out of total tests — was at 5.1%, which also falls within level yellow. The hospitalization data was within level blue on the dial with 12 days of stable or declining hospitalizations.
“I feel like our community deserves a reward, folks have worked incredibly hard,” Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue said about the change.
The change means most activities can go on at 50% capacity and outdoor venues can apply for variances to host events. The current limit on personal gatherings of no more than 10 people or up to two households remains under level yellow and won’t be able to change until the county reaches the protect-our-neighbors phase of reopening.
The new level also allows an 11 p.m. last call on alcohol for restaurants, but county officials are wary of making that change. In the current level orange, restaurants are able to have a 10 p.m. last call on the consumption and sales of alcohol, with five-star restaurants able to have alcohol on tables until 10:30 p.m.
“Public health is a little concerned about this going into winter break this week and then spring break,” Hendershott said. “That may have a negative impact that we’re not quite ready for with our progress and success.”
If the metrics meet level yellow on Wednesday, officials will issue an amended public health order to reflect the change, County Manager Scott Vargo said.
The only difference between the state’s restrictions and the local public health order would have to do with the alcohol rule. The county plans to keep the current last call in place and revisit the issue at the Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, March 2, after gathering more feedback from business owners.
5 Star Business Certification Program
Businesses that are part of the state’s 5 Star Business Certification Program won’t be able to operate under level blue on the dial for the time being, Hendershott said.
When the state announced Dial 2.0, Gov. Jared Polis said that five-star businesses in a level yellow county are prohibited from operating under looser restrictions until 70% of the state’s 70-and-up population have received their first dose of the vaccine.
Hendershott said state officials were unable to give him a clear answer on how close it is to reaching that metric, however, they believed it was somewhere around 60% to 65%.
“I do hope that we will see that opportunity within a very short time frame,” Vargo said. “The state had originally targeted the end of the month of February to get to that 70% threshold. So we’re almost there.”
Level blue would mean that restaurants could operate under 50% capacity with up to 175 people indoors. Under level yellow restrictions, which five-star restaurants are currently using, they can have up to 50 people indoors.
The only other way five-star businesses could operate in level blue is if the county moves to level blue on the dial. In order to do that, the county would need to show numbers in level blue for seven consecutive days.
Level blue requires a one-week average incidence rate that is fewer than 100 new cases per 100,000 people, a positivity rate less than 5% and hospitalizations that are stable or declining.
Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence will be hosting a town hall at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the county’s Facebook page, facebook.com/SummitCountyGov.
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