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Summit County given one week to improve virus case numbers

Taylor Griffith, a paramedic for Stadium Medical, tests a patient for coronavirus at a mobile testing site in Dillon Valley on April 29. Summit County is increasing its testing efforts with the goal of dropping the county’s incidence and positivity rates.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Summit Daily archives

KEYSTONE — Summit County released its third amended public health order in the span of one week Thursday, Oct. 29, implementing further restrictions to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Under the new order, outdoor events are capped at 75 people with indoor events being capped at 25 people. An event is different than a gathering, which is currently capped at six people from no more than two households.

People who want to host an in-person event — such as a wedding reception, concert or fundraiser — have to use the state’s physical distancing calculator to determine how many people can fit in the venue space. Previously, outdoor events were capped at 175 people, with indoor events limited to 100 people.

The new event capacity limitation is in addition to the measures the county has already taken to mitigate the spread of the virus, which include limiting gatherings to six people, prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol at restaurants past 10 p.m. and limiting in-office capacity to 25%.

At a Summit County Board of Health meeting Thursday, Oct. 29, Public Health Director Amy Wineland gave an update on the county’s consultation with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In that meeting, state officials gave the county one week to improve case numbers or risk moving into safer-at-home Level 3, which is labeled “high risk.”

“Their initial recommendation was for us to move to that Level 3 and all the restrictions therein,” Wineland said. “After conversations and identifying that we really are putting in some targeted mitigation strategies … they’re giving us one more week for our community to turn this around.”

If the county does move backward into Level 3, restaurants, places of worship and retail stores will be restricted to 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer.

Wineland said the county’s numbers will have to reflect a plateau or decline in both the incidence and positivity rates by Wednesday, Nov. 4, to avoid moving to Level 3.

Summit County is currently in the safer-at-home Level 2 phase of reopening.
Graphic from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

As of Thursday, the county was reporting a two-week incidence rate of 539 new cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 10.8%, according to the state’s dial dashboard.

The positivity rate, which is the percentage of tests that return positive, reflects a lack of people getting tested for the virus, Wineland said.

“When we have a high percentage of positivity, that means we’re not doing enough testing to capture the true spread of the virus in our community,” she said.

The county is working to provide more testing to the community by partnering with Vail Health to open a community testing site in Frisco. Centura Health is also increasing its testing capacity at its clinic in Frisco.

In addition, the state is working with the county to bring in a mobile testing unit that likely will be staged at the Silverthorne Recreation Center, County Manager Scott Vargo said.

While the details of that testing option aren’t fully ironed out, it’s likely to help improve the positivity rate in the county, Wineland said.

Wineland said the goal of the mitigation strategies is to target an area where most cases are occurring: parties.

On Wednesday, the county reported 22 positive cases among students at Summit High School, primarily the result of gatherings and parties.

“This (restriction) goes along with where we’re seeing our increases in regard to gathering sizes,” Wineland said. “We felt that this was a great compromise to give us one more week so that we can see if our county can step up.”

State COVID-19 dial framework explained

There are five levels of reopening in Colorado. Here’s what they are and what’s allowed:

Protect-our-neighbors

  • Metrics: Must exceed safer-at-home Level 1metrics in addition to meeting testing, contact tracing and additional hospital guidelines.
  • Restrictions: Allows any activity at 50% capacity with a limit of 500 people.

Safer-at-home Level 1,  “cautious”

  • Incidence rate: 0-75 cases per 100,000 people
  • Positivity rate: 5% or less
  • Hospitalizations: No more than 2 new COVID-19 admissions per day
  • Restrictions: Allows places of worship, offices, restaurants and stores to operate at 50% capacity with up to 175 people indoors, whichever is fewer. Bars remain closed.

Safer-at-home Level 2,  “concern”

  • Incidence rate: 75-175 cases per 100,000 people
  • Positivity rate: 10% or less
  • Hospitalizations: No more than two new COVID-19 admissions per day
  • Restrictions: Allows places of worship, offices, restaurants and stores to operate at 50% capacity with up to 50 people indoors, whichever is fewer. Bars remain closed.

Safer-at-home Level 3, “high risk”

  • Incidence rate: 175-350 cases per 100,000 people
  • Positivity rate: 15% or less
  • Hospitalizations: Greater than two new COVID-19 admissions per day
  • Restrictions: Allows places of worship, offices, restaurants and stores to operate at 25% capacity with up to 50 people indoors, whichever is fewer. Bars remain closed.

Stay-at-home

  • Incidence rate: Greater than 350 cases per 100,000 people
  • Positivity rate: 15% or higher
  • Hospitalizations: Greater than two new COVID-19 admissions per day
  • Restrictions: Places of worship and offices are closed. Schools are remote. Restaurants and stores are restricted to to-go and curbside pickup only.

Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 dial webpage.


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